Frequently, I’ve been getting requests about how to start speaking at conferences. Aside from the information within a submission, specifically for Agile2017, there are some general tips that I recommend:
- Topics: This is probably the trickiest part of starting…what are you going to speak about? Personally, I struggled with “am I really the expert to share about something” so my place to start was sharing personal journey/experiences. They are mine – not source issues. They are valuable to others. They may conflict with others but that doesn’t make them right or wrong. Another trick I will often use to help someone is to write a list of “advice” they gave over the week. Chances are there is a topic in there because people are going to you for that advice.
- Research: Review previous conference programs…what were the topics? what are the topics that they are targeting to cover now?
- Prepare Materials: You will need a bio. You will need a picture that is not a selfie in the kitchen (lol…I have no idea why that came to my mind. This is something that I would never do – be in the kitchen).
- Practice: National larger conferences want history of speaking. Volunteer to speak at a local user group, at your company, at another company, etc to gain experience with your content and your delivery.
- List of conferences: Compile a list of conferences that you want to consider speaking at in 2017. I’m not sure if Yves keeps this calendar up to date but I used this when I was starting.
- Timing: Call for submissions are often 6+ months ahead of the conference. For example, Agile2017 is in Aug but the call for submissions is open in Dec.
- Consider alternate approaches to learning: I am not a natural writer, submission writing was very difficult. I ended up volunteering to review submissions, which dramatically helped me to understand what should be in a submission to increase the odds of acceptance.
- Don’t give up: If you want to speak, then you have something to be heard. There are a finite number of slots in a conference and typically more submissions than spots. Getting selected is not a guarantee for anyone.
When you started speaking, what did you find helped during the submission process?