Black Hat is a popular annual cyber event focused on information security. It can be very difficult to make the cut as a presenter – the bar is set high by organizers and attendees expecting to learn about impressive research and developments in the field.
Here are eight tips from Battelle Cyber Scientist Chris Domas about how to successfully get your foot in the door and up to the podium.
1. Do Something Others Aren’t
Find the thing that other people aren’t doing. Stay up-to-date with industry research, who and what was presented last year and what’s being featured at other conferences.
2. Be Passionate
You’ll get a lot farther working on something you find interesting. Not to mention, your presentation will be a lot more engaging. Feel uninspired about your current research? Keep looking until you feel the magic and are losing track of time.
3. Focus on Cool Over Practical
Does your research solve a really important problem in the cyber arena? If so, awesome! But real world application isn’t always the most important factor here. Black Hat conference organizers, application reviewers and attendees always enjoy the coolest, most advanced research, regardless of practicality or future usefulness.
4. Get Support From Your Employer
Once you’ve dug in and uncovered a compelling research topic, share it with your company and request internal R&D funding to pursue it through a presentation at Black Hat or beyond.
5. Know Your Audience
The Black Hat audience is very technical, but comes from lots of different areas of work. What connects them is that they’re passionate about computers and are technically advanced. Like you, they’ll stay up until 3 a.m. tinkering with technology. So you can go deep on the details without worrying whether you’re talking over their heads.
6. Have a Hook
It’s very easy to have novel research that just isn’t spun the right way for the audience. While they have the technical capacity to understand any topic, you have to make them care enough to keep their attention. You need to have a hook. Make sure it’s something that everyone can relate to – maybe not everyone works on finding cyber vulnerabilities in light bulbs every day, but they probably use light bulbs every day. Tap into that, and then dive into what’s unusual and interesting about your
7. Be Succinct
When you submit your application, be succinct. The reviewers are some of the top minds in the field and are aware of the state-of-the-industry. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary information. A 20-page application won’t work when they have 400 to review. Cut to the chaff and quickly articulate how your idea is different from anything that’s been done before.
8. Don’t Procrastinate
Are you a procrastinator? You’re not alone in this industry, but it won’t help you here. Submit your application early. This means reviewers have more time to consider your topic. Wait until the last minute and it’s easy to be lost in the piles of competition.
Chris will be presenting (for the third time) at Black Hat 2017 in July. Check out his topic for this year’s event.
He said each of the times he’s presented, he initially came up with his topic while investigating something that interested him in his free time. And that he appreciates working for a company – Battelle – that supports his interests through R&D funding and gives him the time to participate in events like Black Hat.
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