So, you want to be a speaker?

Over the last year or so the topic of conference speaker selection and questions surrounding getting new speakers seem to have come up a lot. As someone who organizes two conferences I tend to have a lot of opinions on these topics. While I could probably go on about these things forever, I thought I’d start by offering some advice for folks who want to start speaking.

One point I want to clear up at the start: Every event & conference organizer I know does make a conscious effort to find new speakers. They follow the community online; they attend conferences of other industries; they ask around and stay involved in the industry. They are looking and they are happy to give someone new a chance.

I hear from a lot of people they want to to be a speaker but they just don’t know where to start. If you break it down there are two or three things that organizers look for in new speakers: a relevant topic, speaking experience, and community involvement.

Gain Speaking Experience

The easiest way to gain speaking experience is to speak at a local user group. Trust me, this is a win-win. There’s a lot of user groups out there — Adobe affiliated groups, Refresh groups and more — and they’re pretty much always looking for speakers.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback when you’re done, both from the audience and the group organizers. Find out what they thought you did best, what they thought you missed. Feedback is valuable.

Submit Your Topic

Once you’ve got some experience under your belt, contact the organizers of the event(s) you want to speak at, let them know you’re interested. You don’t have to have a talk already 100% prepared. A well written title and description are enough to get you started.

Get Involved in the Community

Getting out and getting involved in the community is a huge help. There are so many benefits to being involved. You’ll find out so much more from attending user groups and conferences than you can just reading blogs and such online.

Being involved can help you pick a topic or gauge potential interest in one you have in mind. It’s also a great way to get to find out about speaking opportunities you would otherwise have never known about.

The word “networking” has some negative connotations, but it’s so easy to do in our community. There are so many wonderful folks, it’s really more like making new friends.

There You Have It…

So there you have it, a short list of things you can do to get started as a speaker. Hopefully that helps some of you that weren’t sure where to start. This is just one way that I’ve seen work for people, there’s plenty of others, too.

If there’s something specific to speaking you want to hear about, let me know. I’m always happy to share.