Issue #18

Welcome to the 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”.

Feedback: (1) ping me on Twitter (2) email me (3) i’m going to leave comments open for now for approximately a week on the website posts if you want to leave your own feedback/$0.02.

Thank you!

You can find this issue on the website:

Organizers 😊

Frankly if your conference doesn’t send an acknowledgement to rejected speakers, then you aren’t a professional conference. Yep, I said it.

While it’s important to focus on accepting the right kind of speakers for your event, you need to give proper time and respect to those who DID submit and were not accepted.

When should you send such letters? There are two schools of thought and you are free to mix either of them up. You can either send rejection letters at the very end after speakers have been announced or send letters a “comfortable time” after the speaker call / CFP has been closed. Either way, you should be sending rejection letters once it’s clear that you are not accepting and announcing additional speakers.

Some tips for the letter that you are sending:

  • Speakers will likely figure out when you send the email that they weren’t selected, so you don’t have to go into deeply about “how you wish you could have picked everyone”. I find briefly acknowledging and appreciating the time they took to submit an application works best.
  • Try to make the email slightly personal – meaning try to avoid sending a copied/pasted or mass blind carbon copy. For example, note how many submissions they had and what they submitted.
  • A brief sentence or two on feedback of their applications if possible. A speaker might not get from you an in-depth analysis in this email why they were not selected (although they might reach out to your conference and request that), but pointing out perhaps any particular helpful comments (perhaps they needed more background for the talks, or the talks didn’t fit the conference theme) might help them in the future.
  • Recommend other conferences in the area or in the industry the speaker can also apply to. I found this to be especially helpful and shows the speaker you care enough to encourage them to apply elsewhere.
  • After making sure you sent out ALL letters, make a note on the website and/or social media that all emails (confirmed and non-confirmed) went out and if anyone didn’t get one, provide a way to reach out. Sometimes emails fall into spam boxes, get missed, etc.

Speakers fill slightly better if they knew you put 60+ seconds into the letter to them – remember you want them to apply in the future. But sending something is better than nothing. No communication from a conference is a measure of disrespect to speakers. Don’t be that conference.

Speakers 🎤

Since we are on the subject of speaker rejections, here is a reminder for speakers about dealing with rejections (“local speaking” and “realizing the odds” are ones i especially take to heart).

But what happens if a conference doesn’t send any communication to you? You wait and see the conference finish the speaker announcements, and just hoping at this point you just get a rejection email so you don’t have to keep watching (although you would get an email if you were accepted).

Some speakers will simply shake their heads and move on. That’s your right, although personally I think if you tactfully let the conference know privately about your lack of response… that would do two things:

  • Everybody makes mistakes. Conference organizers do too.
  • Maybe an email was sent and yours got lost. It happens.

So don’t make a stink about it on social media, especially if this is a first time offense. That’s my $0.02. Although note if others report the same thing from the same conference. Kind reminders in general for organizers to send rejections on Twitter is fine. Yes it’s a subtweet – but other organizers would benefit from such reminders. 😃

Attendees 🙋🏽‍♀️

Three areas that conferences should be asking about but if they don’t, ping them enough time in advance for them to assist your needs:

Food allergy – If the conference doesn’t specify what they are serving for breakfast, lunch, and snacks AND you have a life threatening food allergy send a message to them letting them know about it. Most conference today are careful about nut allergies but other allergies exist. Try not to give PREFERENCES unless you make that clear – we are talking about serious and life-threatening categories here.

Breast Feeding – For new mothers – even if they do not bring their children – there might need to be a place for mothers to nurse or provide/store milk. If you request such a space ahead of time, conferences might be able to find a private out-of-the-way place (which would hopefully be better than a public restroom).

First Aid – If you have any other serious medical condition, it might be good to ping conference organizers ahead of time on where someone might go if medical services (that don’t require high enough urgency hopefully to immediately require emergency services) are located ahead of time.

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.