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-7
How do you handle backup speakers?
For meetups, organizers either have someone (usually someone who regularly attends) or the organizer themselves has a prepared “just in case” talk. If it’s truly a last minute backup scenario, most meetup attendees go with the flow. Not usually high stakes.
For a conference, the stakes are usually higher because it takes more preparation. You definitely should have a list of (1) speakers and (2) the talks they are ready to give if you literally have to approach them the morning of (or the night before, adjust your expectations). Preferably people on the list have ALREADY have proven experience as speakers, and might even have experience in giving last minute talks. Some people also can literally speak for a subject at a last-minute (they don’t need slides or much prep work) and those can be on the list as well.
How do you get the backup speaker list populated? Two big ways in my book: (1) those that applied to speaker for the conference but for whatever reason weren’t accepted (perhaps they already spoke the year before). This means you have a backup list in mind as you are selecting the PRIMARY speakers. Use the “sorry email” to offer them a spot on the backup list, thus preventing the work later to put a list together from scratch. (2) a couple of weeks prior to the conference you can look through the attendee/ticket list and see if there are any names that stand out, or share the list with organizers and/or a private list of friends for names that would be good to add to a backup list.
Remember that backups (when possible) SHOULD try to be diverse just like your primary lineup. Ask for multiple talk topics per speaker (in case you are need of a development talk vs. a marketing talk, this gives you options depending on what talk you need to replace) if possible.
Conferences love marketing, so make sure you use social media and your own blog to thank conferences before and after for accepting you as a speaker. Use your medium (not the site, although if that’s where your blog lives then go for it) to share the “speaker experience”. Unless it was a disaster, try to put a fair and friendly positive spin. Even if you don’t plan on applying to speak at the conference again, conference organizers DO ACTUALLY REMEMBER who thanks them. I’ve seen some reliable speakers be considered for a backup speaker list (see above) for their personality in addition to speaking experience.
In a related note, always try to encourage people to speak at a conference that you had good experiences with. If possible, volunteer to be a “mentor” or just a “cheerleader”, although don’t put awkward pressure on the conference or the organizers in public to accept such a person.
Bottom line… be friendly and supportive. So many speakers and potential speakers out there need the help.
Next newsletter I have a nice JUICY bit of advise for speakers. Stay tuned.
Networking is difficult. The debate that doesn’t seem to die: business cards – are they outdated in today’s modern world?
In my opinion, no. But use them sparingly and get a feel for the moment. Usually if you are not asked by someone for a business card, don’t hand them out to a group. One-on-one your odds of a non-prompted giving of your card can be improved. Although many tech conferences do handle networking via QR codes on badges or simply two smartphones “touching” (via whatever software supports that).
I still get business cards at tech conferences. Honestly most go to the bottom of my tech bag and never again see the light of day. But a few survive. How the card looks makes no difference to me – it’s the person or reason associated with the card at makes all the difference. When I had a business card (I don’t really have a use for them) they were very plain and straight forward.
In terms of getting someone’s information, I take a photo of their badge (along with their face if they are ok with that) which usually holds enough information for me to find them on the Internet if I need to. That’s better than a physical card in my opinon because a photo practically stays in my phone (and my cloud service) forever.
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.