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Author Topic: How to turn down a proposal?  (Read 4170 times)

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How to turn down a proposal?
« on: March 05, 2014, 05:04:16 PM »
Hello e-Hellions - I'm hoping you can help me with some polite language!

I am co-chairing a local Symposium, geared towards project managers.  We elicited proposals for presentations and luckily we received more than we need!

This means we need to turn a few down.  Any suggestions on how to politely turn them down w/o alienating them?  These are all members of our community and I want this to be a positive experience.  I'd like to keep it phrased along the lines of 'we can't fit you in' because I'd rather not get into specifics as to why they weren't right for our event.  I'm terrible at this kind of thing. 



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Re: How to turn down a proposal?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 05:22:12 PM »
Thank you so much for taking the time yadda yadda. We appreciate your enthusiasm and commitment to our cause.

Unfortunately, we had so many submissions that we couldn't include them all. We won't have room for your presentation. It was genuinely hard to choose. [if you can, insert something here about their presentation]

We hope that you will be interested in working with us in the future, and again--thank you for your time and energy.


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Re: How to turn down a proposal?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2014, 05:27:51 PM »
I don't think you need to molly-coddle the people too much.  Most of us know what it's like to submit a presentation or application or manuscript or something and be rejected.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose!.  I'd keep it short and simple, something like:

Hi Proposer,

Thank you for taking the time to put together your presentation for our Symposium.

We received <dozens/hundreds/thousands> of submissions, which means that unfortunately we cannot accept all of them.

On this occasion, we will not have adequate time on the agenda to include your presentation, however we encourage you to come along and enjoy the evening.



  • Grammando and Cupcake Lady
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Re: How to turn down a proposal?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 01:39:43 AM »
Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your interest in presenting at Symposium. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming response this year, we are unable to accept all proposals and will not be able to accept yours at this time.

We do hope that you enjoy attending this year's symposium and that you consider submitting a proposal next year.

Thank you again for your submission,
You have just begun reading the sentence you have just finished reading.


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Re: How to turn down a proposal?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 07:31:31 AM »
Good suggestions from PPs on wording, just wanted to add a different thought.

Would any of the proposals you received cover something which could be offered as supplemental materials for distribution at the symposium, without being included in presentation time?

Say someone proposed presenting on "the top 10 factors which derail critical paths in managing projects" - there may not be time to present the subject, but if the symposium material budget would cover additional print materials, or there is a website where attendees can download materials - you could say "While the symposium schedule as planned does not allow time for a presentation on your proposed subject, we appreciate the value of your thoughts on the topic.  If you care to submit an article or white paper, or other materials (subject to applicable size/format restrictions), we would be pleased to make that available to symposium attendees, with author attribution for you."
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
Mark Twain