Welcome to the mycamp.rocks newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! 😄
Here’s the deal. I’ll try to be: (1) brief (2) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees. Trying to keep this ad free but I’ve left a spot at the bottom for “misc things”.
You can find this issue on the mycamp.rocks website: https://mycamp.rocks/issue-12
Let’s talk about “reverse speaker calls”. Have you ever done them?
Wait… What Are They?
These go by a few different names. I tend to call them “reverse speak calls” and some conferences just mention them as “nominate a speaker or topic”.
Why Are These Helpful?
Primarily they are a way for organizers to use their existing network to find undiscovered speakers and gauge interest in overlooked topics. Even though organizers shouldn’t rely on “speakers coming to them” when they do a speaker call or CFP, they can’t possibly reach everyone. Just like you would network to find talent as a business, you might need to do this to find new and interesting speakers.
How Do I Do This?
Two recommendations: You can simply setup a form (on your website, Google Forms, whatever) that simply asks for up to three names/emails for potential folks who haven’t already submitted to your call for speakers. Maybe include a field that says why the submitter nominated them. I usually make the person who fills out the form give their name and email. These are required because it helps see who is nominating them (avoid people nominating themselves) and gives the option of letting the nominate know who nominated them (assuming if they don’t want to be anonymous).
Another method is to include these questions in the speaker application form itself. So those applying to be speakers have the chance to nominate others. I personally don’t think these should be required, as those with small networks might be turned away by this.
In any case, consider reverse speaker calls – another way to find more speakers and continue the mission of diversity.
Many apply to conferences without giving consideration to “earning their street cred”. In other words, what talks they have given in the past and that they mention on their applications.
If you are applying to speak at a conference that is more local (small or mid-sized most likely), have you ever spoken in the area at smaller venues before? Maybe a meetup? Have you been a mentor in the space or subject that you’re giving a talk on? Any non-profits or local businesses relevant to the space or subject? Why are we asking these questions? Because it helps your application often if you are applying… say for a marketing talk, to be able to claim you give similar talks at local meetups (important to note that these meetups shouldn’t be ones that you personality organize). This tells organizers that other organizers have hosted you and that it’s not above your ego to do small venues or help organizations.
Feel free to list other similar “large” or “cool” conferences in your application but it shows a nice side if you can project “I can do the smaller stuff too”. If you are new to speaking, use the fact you do your attention to “these seemingly small but just as important” avenues as the foundation of perhaps reaching out to a bigger or different audience, perhaps the one that the conference hosts.
I shared my top ten dongles and electronics to take to conferences. Although many of these are useful to speaker and organizers, I think there’s helpful reminders here for attendees as well.
Misc. Stuff 🤷♂️
These tips were written and/or gathered by David Bisset, someone who’s been helping organizing conferences (such as WordCamp Miami, but others too) and meetups for over a decade. He’s still learning so share any of your tips and it might be included in a future newsletter.