Our SDinGov Call for Speakers is now closed for 2024.

The information below is for reference only.


We are looking for session proposals for SDinGov (in person) on the 18-20 September 2024

We encourage submissions from anyone with relevant skills, experience or knowledge to share with our community of user-centred design professionals.

We particularly welcome and support first-time speakers. If you would like to discuss a session proposal with us, please contact us. Even if you just have a vague idea, we can offer guidance on whether it might work and how best to put together a proposal. Due to the number of requests, we can only accept requests for support up until two weeks before closing.

The Call for Speakers' deadline was 09:00 (GMT) Monday 25 March 2024.

Spoken at SDinGov before? Got a session in mind already?

Themes and topics of interest

Our audience value practical sessions and case studies, peppered with inspiration and thought-leadership that really gets the brain matter working. While many participants are experienced service designers and senior leaders looking to push forward their practice, we also have early-career professionals and people from adjacent disciplines keen to learn the basics. All are after practical skills and techniques they can apply in their day-to-day work transforming public services.

Design & service leadership

How to get the seat at the table, and what to do with it once you’ve got it. Think leadership, psychological safety, building teams, design and research ops. Think budgets, business cases, governance, org design, operating models. How do we create the conditions necessary for design to have impact? What does user-centred governance look like? How do we move from managing outputs, costs and deadlines, to managing quality, flow and value? How do we work with the invisible ‘dark matter’ of power and decision-making - whether to reform it, or to get good work done in spite of it? Practical case studies, hands-on workshops and tutorials, and inspiring thought leadership all needed.

Policy design

Practical case studies on using design methods as part of policy making, and how to bring policy and delivery closer together. We’ve had quite a lot on the theory in previous years, and are now keen to have more case studies from people who are putting this into practice, hands-on workshops teaching methods and frameworks that people can put into action; and case studies and tutorials on using participatory design to shift the power-dynamics of policymaking and the role of the public in that process. Bonus points for speakers from the policy side of the house.

Data, Big Data, AI, Machine Learning

Are these the new materials of service design - if so what skills and knowledge do we need to develop to help public institutions apply them to best effect? How can we work better with data - to make the case for change and to embed a culture of continuous service improvement? What is our role in the ‘back end’ of data platforms, and how might we (re)imagine new services and service models based on data-driven insights into citizens and their needs? Where can Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning transform experiences? And how do we navigate the ethical minefield involved in all this? Or is ChatGP just going to make all of us redundant? Bonus points for speakers from the data and technology side of the house.

Beginners guides and workshops

Yes, many of our participants are seasoned service designers, but many are also just starting out on their journey. We welcome sessions that are unashamedly about teaching core techniques of user-centred design. And our seasoned-pros always love a session that gives them a new technique or framework to try out in their work.


Additional themes

This year we were helped by our advisory panel to create a list of themes they wanted to explore for 2024. These are by no means exhaustive, but they will give you an idea of what our audience wants to hear about at this year’s event.


  • How to prepare for AI
  • How do we make sure we don’t design ourselves into a corner?
  • Ethics. How do we use AI proactively and progressively
  • How to use AI to design services
  • Are humans still necessary?
  • Case studies with real impact – what were the contributing factors to demonstrable/scalable/sustainable impact?


  • What is coming with a potentially new government?
  • Design in society
  • Political JFDI’s and how to deal with them
  • Political influence over design. Who's in power? and how / does it affect our practice?

Public Design Report

  • How we get more budget for research
  • Telling the service design narrative to support decision-makers
  • Talking to non-designers
  • Impact of design
  • How design has made an impact in different dimensions 


Imaginative/imagined futures

  • Creating space in delivery to "think" "innovate" "pivot"
  • Play, imagination, experimentation
  • Learning by failing
  • Designing for a radically different future (ideally positive!)
  • Shift from permacrisis to hope, via speculative design and hopeful creativity
  • Speculative futures

Crisis + "permacrisis"

  • How do we gear ourselves up to design for extreme situations
  • Designing for the next crisis
  • Design in slow motion crisis (and change)
  • Doing more with less
  • Designing services with no money 
  • Have we come out of crisis mode yet?
  • The shift from reactive to proactive positive design
  • Designing to create efficiencies
  • Designing when the driver is budget cuts
  • Post-pandemic recovery

Equity and ethics

  • Diversity in design
  • Language and inclusion
  • Equity & Inclusion - of both services and teams
  • How to foster neurodiversity in teams
  • Designing for trust
  • Trauma-informed services

Types of session

SDinGov has a strong practical focus. Our participants want to learn about actions or approaches they can take away and use in their own organisations.

We encourage interactive sessions that involve the audience in the discussion or give them hands-on experience. You are also welcome to present a session about something specific you've done, but you should try to structure it so people can participate and not simply sit and listen.

Our most common types of session are:

  • case studies
  • talks
  • workshops
  • informal or format-based discussions

You can read about these in more detail in our guidelines for submitting a proposal.

We also welcome novel session formats and are very supportive of experimental sessions that may never have been tried before. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss it before you submit your proposal.

Our participants

SDinGov is a practical public sector design conference that allows participants to connect and learn from their peers and leaders in the industry. Participants will include Government employees, consultants and design agencies.

The event is aimed primarily at professionals who either manage, design or develop public services including within:

  • central & local government
  • the 3rd sector, Arts
  • Education sector services
  • Health sector services
  • Emergency sector services
  • civic technologies

We also welcome participants who want to learn from the public sector and apply those learnings in a different setting.

Inclusivity and diversity

We aim to be inclusive and diverse, both in terms of our speakers and our participants.

We want to ensure participants can take part in all aspects of the event in a positive environment. We provide a safe place to share ideas and try new things. 

Our Code of Conduct describes the behaviour we expect from every SDinGov participant

How to submit a proposal

Our review panel will use your proposal to decide whether to accept your session onto the programme. They need a clear picture of what your session will offer participants and how you will deliver that.

What to include in your proposal

Your proposal should include:

  • a descriptive and engaging title
  • a short summary, which will be included on the event website to help participants decide whether to go to your session
  • a longer description that lets the panel make an informed decision about your session but won’t be available to participants
  • between 3 and 5 key points, or takeaways, for participants
  • the type or format of session you are planning to run
  • the duration of your session
  • any costs you want us to cover, such as accommodation

There is more information about what to include in our guidelines for submitting a proposal.

What not to include in your proposal

Your proposal should not include:

  • information that could identify any of the speakers, as our review and selection process is anonymous
  • content that does not focus on the audience’s needs, for example, a hard sell about you or your organisation, or a set of opinions not backed up with evidence
  • links to video, audio, websites or blog posts - we will not consider these when reviewing the proposal

Want more information on session submission?

Our review and selection process

After the deadline closes, our selection panel will review all submissions. This usually takes around 4 weeks and we will contact you once the panel has completed the review. 

The review process is anonymous - all speaker names, biographies and other details are removed - to ensure the panel selects sessions on their merit and not on how well a speaker is known. 

Our programme chair and review panel are all respected members of the design community.

Factors that are considered when reviewing a proposal include whether:

  • the session will align with the conference themes and complement other sessions
  • the subject to be covered is clearly defined
  • the subject will be of interest to the audience
  • the content is of high quality
  • the session will be well organised and well delivered

We’ll let you know the result of our panel’s review, even if you’re not successful this time. If you are interested in receiving any feedback our reviewers have about your proposal, let us know. 

How we support our speakers

SDinGov is organised by Software Acumen, professional conference organisers since 2007.  Our experienced, full-time team is there to ensure you get the most out of participating in the event.

Free speaker tickets

We offer at least 1 free ticket to the whole event for every session in the programme. The number of free tickets will depend on the number of named speakers and the session’s duration. 

We give:
• 1 free ticket for a session between 45 and 60 minutes
• up to 2 free tickets for a 90 minute session
• up to 3 free tickets for a 120+ minute session 
We allocate free tickets to speakers in the order they are named on the proposal, unless you tell us otherwise. We also offer a discounted ticket for any named speaker who does not qualify for a free ticket.

Your speaker ticket includes:
• participation in the full event programme, including social activities
• lunch and refreshments at scheduled breaks

 If you have any questions about speaker tickets, contact us


We cover speakers’ travel and accommodation expenses in line with our speaker expenses policy. 

We will consider the financial cost of a session as part of our decision on whether to select it for the programme.

If we accept your session, we’ll suggest a financial amount to cover expenses, depending on your location. 

 Read our expenses policy here

Mentoring for new speakers

We like to help develop speakers and provide a platform for a range of backgrounds, experience and perspectives. 

If you’ve not spoken at SDinGov before, we can suggest someone suitable to act as a sounding board or provide mentoring to help you:
• prepare your proposal
• develop your session if it is accepted on the programme

 If you’re interested in being mentored, contact us as soon as possible.


We provide standard supplies for sessions, like sticky notes, markers, pens and paper. We’ll cover the cost of, or supply directly, any additional materials you need to run your session, for example printing. Just tell us what you need when you submit your proposal.

Audiovisual equipment

We provide screens and connections to display material from speakers’ own laptops.

Local knowledge

We’ve run SDinGov for several years and know the local area well. Contact us if you have any questions about travel or accommodation, or if you want to know more about what to do or see in and around Edinburgh when you visit.

 Find out more about Edinburgh

What we expect from our speakers

If your session is included in our programme, there are a few things we need you to agree to as a speaker at SDinGov. Do not submit a proposal if you feel you cannot agree to these.

As a speaker you will:

  • abide by our Code of Conduct 
  • promote your session in the build-up to the event
  • deliver your session and otherwise participate in the event
  • respond to any requests we make to ensure your session is ready, such as making sure the review panel’s feedback has been addressed, or reviewing the programme or your slides 
  • avoid any activity before the event that would bring it into disrepute or violate the code of conduct
  • ensure you have the correct visa if you are traveling from outside the UK

Our full terms and conditions are set out in the submission form.

Are you ready to speak at SDinGov?