As part of our commitment to transparency within the cloud native community, we are providing an inside look into the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon schedule to life. Note that every conference we put together has a post-event conference transparency report that includes a lot of the information we cover below. We are committed to improving the process after every conference.

The schedule is curated by the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Program Committee, a group of volunteers who are subject matter experts in the conference topics and tracks, led by the conference co-chairs. 

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon conferences have become very competitive with a large number of submissions and the average acceptance rate in the low to mid-teens.

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon CFP Averages:

Our latest CFP is no exception with an acceptance rate of 15.3%. 621 submissions were received from 910 proposed speakers at 304 companies. Of those, we were able to accept 95 talks with 133 total speakers. Here’s how the submission data breaks down for KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2021. 

*Other: Individuals without a company affiliation, non-profits, and training organizations

**Does not include talk slots held for SIG groups, of which we have 20 for this event

Previously, KubeCon + Cloud NativeCon NA 2020 had 856 submissions and an acceptance rate of 15%, resulting in 345 total speakers for the event. 

How the Program Committee is chosen 

To create the Program Committee, CNCF invites contributors from the community to participate.

An email is sent to CNCF Maintainers and the CNCF Ambassadors inviting them to fill out the interest form. On occasion, the co-chairs will have specific individuals to invite, but the majority of the program committee comes from CNCF projects and ambassadors. 

There are at least 5 program committee members assigned to each track/topic to review. The co-chairs assign them to each track.

On average, the Program Committee consists of:

Program Committee Responsibilities

Our Program Committee is responsible for giving scores and comments to proposals within their selected topic areas. You can learn more about the scoring guidelines that are used here.

Program Committee members donate a significant amount of time to reviewing talks, and the timeline is very short. They’re only given two weeks to review. We’ve estimated out how long the expected time commitment is: 

After the review period has ended, track chairs will incorporate the feedback to create a list of the top 30% of talks they would recommend to the co-chairs to accept, based on a number of criteria. The co-chairs then review these lists to make the final decisions on proposal acceptance and build out the schedule.

How the program committee is compensated

We offer reviewers a tiered registration discount system:

Responsibilities of Track Chairs

Track chairs are responsible for reviewing the results of the program committee scores to form a list on which top 30% proposals to accept with consideration to speaker, company, and gender diversity as well as experience level balance within their track. Track chairs are also under a two week timeline for this work. 

The final talk selection is made by the conference co-chairs, taking into account the recommendations from all track chairs and the need to balance diversity and that each speaker will give at most one talk.

Track Chair Benefits

As a thank you for their efforts, track chairs receive the following benefits:

Track Chairs have additional constraints to keep in mind:  

Responsibilities of Co-Chairs

Co-chairs finalize the schedule based on the input from the program committee and the track chairs.  They receive scores and feedback from every reviewer per submission, and have access to the full list of submissions. The Co-chairs are chosen by CNCF and are on a rotating basis for each conference and are professionally contracted and compensated for their time.


If your talk was not accepted, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t great! Program Committee members have to make difficult decisions, and there are any number of reasons it might not have made the cut. Many Committee members are more than willing to chat with you to provide feedback on your submission. You can also read more about how to get your talk accepted here, and we even have had outside community conferences established to recycle talk submissions!

Finally, we’re incredibly grateful to the entire global community that comes together to make KubeCon + CloudNativeCon a success every time.