Call for Papers: Agile on the Beach 2020


The tenth Agile on the Beach conference will be held at Falmouth University on 9th and 10th July 2020.  The organisers would like to invite proposals for sessions. 

Submissions will only be accepted through the online form, which will be available from the 21st November for four weeks only.

Speakers who have bought a ticket before acceptance will be entitled to a refund for their ticket and accommodation. Alternatively they may transfer their ticket to a named colleague at no additional charge.

Below we cover most of the FAQ’s about submitting, but should you have any other questions you can email Allan Kelly (committee member for speaker liaison) at

Register for CfP notifications -> Call for Papers now closed


Submissions should clearly include the following elements:

  • Submission title plus short synopsis (for marketing) and long synopsis (for conference programme), duration (45 or 90 minutes), delivery (e.g. presentation, interactive workshop) and most appropriate track.
  • Speaker name(s) plus biography, headshot photo, contact details and experience.
  • Expense expectations – see below.

Speaker details are collected at the point of submission and biographical details may be considered in round two reviews. 

We aim to create a balanced programme with space for new speakers as well as those who regularly speak on the conference circuit while avoiding an unintentional bias in any direction. Therefore we are ask speakers to indicate whether they consider themselves an experienced conference speaker, regular speaker or a new speaker.


Submission review process

Following the close of submissions the review committee will individually review and vote on all proposals. The votes will then be combined and a shortlist created. The shortlisted submissions will be reviewed and ranked. Final selection will be made from the combined rankings.

In a change for 2020 AOTB round one reviews will be conducted “blind”, that is: only talk synopsis will be considered, reviewers will not be shown biographical details.

If you would like to read more about the review process Allan Kelly describes it in this blog post from 2015.

In 2019 nearly 300 submissions were received for 40 speaking slots. While we endeavour to give feedback to unsuccessful submissions because the voting process involves multiple reviewers it is sometimes difficult to give a single reason why a proposal was not accepted.



  • 21 November: Submissions open
  • 21 December: Submissions close – we do not plan to extend this deadline
  • 17 January: Round 1 reviews end
  • 18-26 January: Shortlisting
  • 27 January – 10 February: Round 2 reviews
  • Final decisions and contact with speakers
  • 10 March: Announce speakers
  • 9 & 10 July: Conference


Conference Themes

Agile on the Beach 2020 will focus on Agile working, software creation and delivery, teams, practice and new business thinking. These themes will be organised as several tracks. Most run on 1-day only:

  • Product Design: e.g. product look and feel, user experience & UXD, front end design.
  • Product Management, e.g. product discovery, business analysis, product ownership, the product manager role
  • Team working, e.g. culture, personnel management, self-organisation, leadership.
  • Agile practices, e.g. agile basics, writing user stories, retrospectives.
  • Agility in business (technology) including public sector, e.g. digital businesses, Agile delivery contracts, Involving business clients in technical discussions.
  • Agility in business (non-tech), application of agile techniques and ideas in more general business and outside of software development.
  • Software delivery (2 days): including engineering programing, testing and operations, e.g. TDD, BDD, continuous delivery, architecture, reliability, scalability.

We encourage submissions in the non-tech business track especially to look outside and beyond software development. Subjects such as strategy, innovation and customer understanding are all of interest. 

Where appropriate the organisers may move submissions to another track.

We like to add some variety to the programme and are also interested in hearing about new technologies in general, approaches to innovation and learning.


Type of sessions

As with previous years the organisers would like to see a mix of session formats.  For example: presentation with slides, interactive workshops and hands-on-keyboard interactive workshop.

The majority of sessions will be 45 minutes in length.  Double sessions (90 or more minutes) are also available – primarily for hands-on and interactive workshops. The committee feel 90 minutes is a long time for audiences to only listen. We would like to include several double hands-on sessions in the delivery software track.



Last years’ was a sell out attended by over 400 people. This included a large number from the local area (Cornwall and Devon) although most attendees come from further afield.

Most attendees are in someway involved with the software industry either at a technical or business level.  Within the technical audience the technology base is wide. From web-developers using PHP on LAMP to embedded C developers programming on the metal. However a significant minority are managers or come from outside the software arena.  One of the aims of the conference is to showcase Agile outside of software.


Speakers package

The organisers are pleased to offer speakers the following:

  • Free entry to both days of the conference.
  • Free entry to the pre-conference Pasty and Pint event with a guest.
  • Free entry to beach party for speaker plus one guest.
  • Free ticket for Friday night boat trip for the speaker.
  • Bed and breakfast in Falmouth University accommodation for up to 3 nights. Each speaker is guaranteed their own en suite room.
  • Lunch both days of the conference
  • Most talks are recorded (speakers may decline) and made available free of charge on public video sharing services.



Agile on the Beach pays a fixed travel allowance based on the self selected band indicated on submission. Receipts and expenses claims are not required, while speakers are free to spend more than their allowance the conference will not pay more than the band selected. The bands are as follows:

  • Local: no travel expenses claimed
  • UK travel: £150 – for travel within the UK
  • Short-haul: £300 – for travel within Europe
  • Mid-haul: £500 – for travel slightly outside Europe, e.g. Western Russia and Israel.
  • Long-haul: £900 – for speakers coming from further afield.

Some speakers choose not to claim any expenses, often because their employer will reimburse them. Other speakers – typically long-haul – choose a lower band, e.g. UK travel, because they combine the conference with a vacation or other business.

The final decisions on selection may include consideration of travel allowances, particularly where long-haul costs are incurred. Financial projections at the time of final speaker selection may constrain choices. 


Multiple submissions

While speakers normally deliver one session during the conference up to three submissions, or joint submissions, may be made per person. If more than one session is chosen the speakers package remains the same. Only one travel allowance is paid per session, speakers must therefore decide between themselves how to allocate the allowance.


Multiple speakers and proxy submissions

If you are proposing to have a co-speaker please name both speakers in the submission, we will consider the first speaker to be the contact point. This speaker is responsible for passing on our communications to the second speaker.

Sessions with multiple speakers may be submitted. Both speakers will be entitled to free entry and accommodation although the committee will expect speakers to share the travel allowance. 

If you are submitting on behalf of another person please enter yourself as a speaker and include the other person as a co-speaker. Note in your own biography that you are acting as a speaker proxy.


Conference preferences

The committee are fully aware that IT can be a male dominated industry and are keen to encourage diversity in speakers. While all submissions will be judged on their merits, we encourage all to submit in the hope the committee will be able to programme a diverse line-up of quality sessions and speakers.

Submissions which are specific to vendor tools (e.g. “Managing branches with Microsoft TFS” or “Stored Procedure Testing on Oracle”) are unlikely to be selected. Such sessions may be submitted and in some cases may be selected. However, historically reviewers prefer sessions which are more generic and not tool specific.

The committee favour sessions about doing Agile rather than sessions about Agile, i.e. “How Agile transformed my business” over “How Agile can transform your business”


Lightning talks

The conference schedule will include time for lightning talks.  Speakers are welcome to submit lightning talks in addition. Lightning talk submission and selection will occur at the conference itself on the day (usually the Thursday.)



Potential speakers who have not previously visited Falmouth are advised to consider their travel arrangements before submitting.

Cornwall is a popular British holiday destination with some stunning coastline. Some speakers – and attendees – choose to combine their attendance at Agile on the Beach with a short holiday or long weekend in Cornwall.  The organisers are happy to provide advice and suggestions should you wish to do so.

Allan Kelly discussed how to travel to Falmouth for Agile on the Beach in this blog post from 2014, although do note that the Newquay flight is now to Heathrow and not Gatwick.


Code of Conduct

In 2014 Agile on the Beach introduced a conference code of conduct for speakers and attendees. For more details of this please see our terms and policies.