Practice makes perfect:
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Captivating Beginnings: The Art of the Start

The journey of crafting an abstract begins with "a spark of an idea" which grows into "a clear intention of the message to convey" says Daniel Stange, Wir Sind Ohana Co-Organizer, Salesforce MVP and Dreamforce speaker.

In one way, an abstract is a neutral summary of content. In another, its role is pivotal in determining whether your audience will continue reading or move on. Taking inspiration from Daniel Stange, the writing process begins with a kernel of an idea. It's about translating your insights into a story that resonates, guiding your intended audience through the abstract with purpose.

Building Blocks of an Effective Abstract

The Title will Change as Your Abstract Changes

The title is your first handshake with your potential audience but it does not to be perfect from the start. If you ask ChatGPT on abstract writing it says, a title "should be intriguing, promising a journey worth your audience's time" - but the fact remains we are giving talk on business, technical, or organisational topics not telenovelas. Make it a short, memorable working title for a start.

First Sentences and Concise Problem Statements

Your opening sentence is where you hook your audience. It's the doorway into your narrative and sets the tone. Make it inviting and reflective of what follows.
A great abstract addresses a specific problem. A well-defined problem statement clarifies your talk's purpose. You want to avoid false expectations.

Offering Value with a Preview and Takeaways

Next, offer a roadmap of what's in store. Not a sneak peek, a roadmap outlining what visitors can expect. This outline gives orientation, allows readers to check with their expectations and make a better decision if your talk is for them. It's about setting the stage and building anticipation.

What will someone visiting your talk gain from spending their time with you? Highlight the key takeaways to provide a clear value proposition.

Finalizing the Abstract

A person working on their abstract on a laptop in an Alpine setting

The Perfect Title

As your abstract takes shape, revisit your title. Does it still capture the essence of your content? A great title evolves with your narrative, reflecting the depth and nuance of your abstract. It's worth spending extra time here to get it just right.

The Perfect Length

An abstract should be concise yet comprehensive. Aim for 800 to 1000 characters. This allows you to express your key ideas without overwhelming your reader (or reviewer). It's about striking the right balance between brevity and detail.

The Final Touch

Finally, read through your abstract with fresh eyes. Does it flow? Does it resonate? This is your chance to fine-tune your narrative, ensuring it not only informs but also engages and, ideally, inspires a bit, too.