Speaking at The Email Design Conference in 2016 was the first time I'd ever given a professional presentation, outside of work...and it absolutely terrified me. But once I got up and actually gave the talk, I found it to be one of the most rewarding – and addicting – things I've ever done. The next year, I was honored and excited to speak as the opening session at all three Litmus Live 2017 conferences. The connections I made and the experiences I had during that conference tour were (at the risk of sounding overdramatic) truly life-changing. I absolutely believe that anyone at any experience level can be a speaker, and that everyone has something worth sharing.
I've done two different types of proposals. My first year, I did the video and provided a general outline of what I intended to talk about, with details added in where I felt they might not be immediately clear. My second year, I had a crystal clear vision of what I wanted to talk about – I didn't intend to, but when I sat down to make my outline, I ended up getting carried away and writing out an entire first draft...so that's what I sent in. Both got me accepted as a speaker, which I take to mean that there's no wrong way to do a proposal, as long as you're (1) clear, (2) knowledgable, and (3) passionate about your topic.
The biggest tip I have is to focus on what things that the audience will be able take away from your talk. Lots of attendees come to Litmus as representatives of larger departments – they want to bring knowledge or ideas back to their team at home. After they listen to your talk, what things they can take back with them? This sounds silly, but LitmusLive attendees are VERY active on Twitter – sometimes it can be helpful to think "What parts of my talk would people tweet?" That forces you to boil your big ideas down into concise, memorable pieces – which (for me, at least) helped a lot when narrowing down and structuring my proposal / presentation.
And, of course, reach out! The #emailgeeks community has a reputation for being one of the kindest, most welcoming groups. If having someone to look over a proposal or watch your video before you send it in would make you feel more confident, then you should absolutely ask! Personally, I'd be more happy to do so for anyone who would like that feedback – and I know I'm not the only one in this thread :)
For us, we've found that we need hard numbers to get buy in on almost anything. We get a lot further if we can dig in and present some relevant data (even if it's just a good estimation), rather than just having someone further up take us on our word. For example, when we wanted to add preview text to our email templates, we were getting pushback because it was just one more thing for the copywriters to come up with and one more thing for legal to approve. When we were able to come back with some data from reliable sources that showed increased open rates with preview text, we got the go ahead.