6

I am co-organizing a conference that will take place virtually on Mar 13, 2023. We invited the speakers and they confirmed their participation in Nov, 2022. Now, we sent them a form that collects their talk info + bios + photos, and a consent form to sign in Jan. and some of them have not submitted their info yet nor emailed us the signed consent form until now.

We sent a reminder on Feb 2 and they have not submitted the data yet! - I know that professors are busy but also this is putting a lot of stress on us, "the organizers", the registration for the event ends on Mar 9!

It is a volunteer conference so we offer no honorarium to the speakers and maybe that is why they are not taking it seriously but we (the organizers) are taking our volunteering work seriously and we care about the details!

I am uncomfortable asking them again to submit their info. What advice do you have for me?

Those who are late on submission are old professors and probably busy, and I am a graduate student.

And also, how to write an effective but gentle reminder email to the professors who are late on submission?

Here is what I came up with:

Hello all,

Hope this email finds you well. We are very excited that (conference name) is approaching and we cannot wait to meet you all!

Could you please fill out these forms and email us the consent form if you have not done so at your earliest convenience ideally before the end of Feb? - Registration closes Mar 9.

Thank you.

BR, xxx

11
  • 16
    You didn't really give a deadline.
    – Buffy
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:24
  • 1
    I am trying to tell them that the deadline is Feb 28 in a polite way. I am uncomfortable telling them the deadline is Feb 28.
    – Nadine
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:26
  • 28
    "Ideally" is just a suggestion, not a deadline. Be Bold.
    – Buffy
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:27
  • 5
    What is the relation between them providing this info and registration closing?
    – TimRias
    Feb 23, 2023 at 21:48
  • Why do they need to consent to talking? Feb 23, 2023 at 23:02

5 Answers 5

32

As many reminders as it takes to get the information! I would keep a few things in mind. Decide on a firm deadline. Put it in the subject line. “Deadline 2/28: Submit program info for Name of Conference” Then send this to each person by name. When the email goes to many people (“Dear All”), it seems that many people are late. If I get a personal note, I get the impression that everyone else has submitted. Good luck.

2
  • 5
    I put something like [Action required] at the start of the subject. And +1 for personal emails, not 'dear all'. Feb 24, 2023 at 13:02
  • 8
    If it’s an international conference, I’d avoid writing “Deadline 2/28” – non-Americans are likely to read that as ‘deadline 2 of 28’. Better to avoid ambiguity and write, “Deadline 28 Feb[ruary]” (or “28th Feb[ruary]” or whichever style of writing it out you prefer). Feb 25, 2023 at 17:09
11

Send one more and give a deadline (firm). "If we don't have your material by -firm date- you won't appear in the program."

If the recipients don't see the consequences of being later then there is little incentive (from their standpoint) to be "ideal". Make it clear.

3
  • 1
    I agree with providing a firm deadline, but the wording ("you won't appear in the program") seems a bit too strong (even if true), given that the speakers are volunteering their time and effort.
    – GoodDeeds
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:36
  • 7
    @GoodDeeds, how about "can't appear"? The volunteers can't just make stuff up.
    – Buffy
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:44
  • 9
    There's some tuning, I'd be partial to: "We need your material by end of day Feb 28 to prepare the program, after which speakers whose information we're missing won't appear in the program." But that's all small quibbling, the most important part is to put a firm deadline. Also, bold it in the email.
    – user137975
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:53
10

The way busy people read email is often a triage system. People make a quick decision on whether the email requires a response immediately, requires a response later, or doesn't require a response. For busy people with a lot of emails, the "requires a response later" category can quickly slide into "never going to get around to it."

So your strategy should be to make it extremely clear that your email does require a response immediately. Don't worry about being overly polite -- often including additional extraneous words beyond your request simply makes it harder for the person to determine what you need, which makes them more likely to decide that the email is not something they need to respond to right away. Just state what you need simply firmly and make it clear there is time pressure. Furthermore, personalizing emails adds pressure to respond.

Dear Prof X,

We are excited for your upcoming talk at the Y conference.

The deadline for title/abstract/bio submission is Z. Please make sure to submit your material by the deadline so that we can include your information on the website.

Thank you,

Nadine

1
  • 1
    +1 "often including additional extraneous words beyond your request simply makes it harder for the person to determine what you need,"
    – Carol
    Feb 25, 2023 at 22:49
4

It seems you think it is rude to tell them about a deadline. What is ten times ruder is not telling them about the deadline, they miss it, and as a result can't speak on the conference.

So tell them. Using words that are hard to ignore.

2

I would suggest being more direct. Explain it as your problem (like the printer of the program being a stickler for a deadline). But make very clear what you need doing and by when. Otherwise many will not even realise the need. If you want additional background put that after the call to action.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .