Finding the Right Conferences to Pitch
Regardless to your speaking aspirations there are many benefits to attending industry conferences, from learning new technologies, meeting people (both new and old acquaintances) and getting feedback on your projects.
If you are thinking of speaking, I’d suggest making sure to first attend some conferences. You’ll want to know what formats you prefer and observe other presentations. In addition to taking notes on the topics at hand, take notes on the performances as well. In time you’ll have a list of behaviors you want to emulate in your own talks.
Research and Build a Conference List
To get started, make a list of all of the tech conferences in your industry. Google can be helpful here but there are also dedicated sites like Lanyard as well as open source lists on GitHub.
For each you want to document:
- Website URL
- Attendee Count
- Session Format and Length
- When is the call for papers/talk submissions?
- What is the format for these submissions?
- Does the conference help pay for speakers costs?
- Personal Notes
For your personal notes, you’ll want to speak with your friends and peers. Google for blog posts from people who attended last year. Watch some videos from their archives. Try to understand the good and bad of each conference. Hopefully this will help you match up these conferences with your own goals and time availabilty.
Contact the Organizers
You won’t be able to get all the details you need for your list online. You’ll need to contact the organizers and that’s good. Be social!
Introduce yourself and explain how you are interested in the conference and would like info on the presentation submission process. Try to find a balance of giving some background info about yourself and respecting the time of those you are cold contacting.
The sooner you contact people the better. Speakers are often chosen months ahead of time so if your goal is an October conference it’s not unheard of to send an email inquiry as early as January.
Write and Submit Your Pitch
We’ll go deep on the writing process in a future article but suffice to say, spend time crafting your proposal, get it proofread by friends and treat the whole process with professionalism. Be careful doing multiple proposals for a single conference. You may be chosen to do more than one unless you request otherwise.
If you do not get picked be sure to thank the organizers for their consideration. There is also nothing wrong in asking them how you might improve future proposals. Many of these people are more than happy to help you with some professional criticism. Take it well.
If you do get picked, be sure to thank the organizers and promise them your support and dedication to delivering a great talk. Mark off some time on your calendar for talk prep time. There is a lot of work to do, and I’ll continue to document the process in future articles.
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