Version 1: The letter I received
(The text in italics is what I was thinking as I read it.)
They meant well; I know they did. This is a really well-run conference with hundreds of speakers and probably thousands of proposals. The problem as I see it: they fell prey to the two big traps that so many of us do (myself included) when we have to deliver bad news:
(1) Take way too long to say what needs to be said, and
(2) Say it overly politely, and formally, when a little humanity would do a world of good.
Version 2: The letter I wish I had received
(The text in italics is what I would be thinking as I read it.)
I wish I had better news. (Uh oh. Not good.) I’m sorry to say your proposal for ABC Topic was not selected this year for the XYZ Annual Conference being held June ##-##, 2014 in City, State. (Well, bummer.)
I know proposal submissions take time and I realize you may be disappointed. (They do … and I am!) At the risk of sounding formulaic, I can tell you with the utmost confidence that each proposal was given careful and deliberate consideration. (I hope so!) We work hard to design a balanced program of educational sessions at the conference and choose the proposals that best fit the overall programming framework of the conference. (That makes sense.) We receive between #### and #### proposals each year, often with several on the same topic. (I bet choosing is a really tough job.) As a result, exceptional proposals are turned away each year for one simple reason: limited speaking slots. (I get it.)
Although your proposal was not selected this year, rest assured your interest in offering your skills, background and knowledge is greatly appreciated and I appreciate your interest in making our conference a success. (Thank you!) I hope you’ll consider us again next year. (I think I will!)
Once again, thank you. (You’re welcome.)
There’s a lot of the same text in Version 2.
And a world of difference.