Aginext Community

How to speak at more industry events

Your team has gone through or is going through a transformation. We all are right now.

You’ve learned some things. You’ve figured things out. You feel ready to share those lessons with the greater agile and lean community. It sounds like you’re ready to apply to speak at an industry conference or Meetup. The strange side effect of the pandemic we are all experiencing is that anyone can apply to speak at just about any conference as they will be online for at least the next couple months.

This piece will help you learn how to speak and share at more industry events.

Think about Your Audience

It’s tempting to put an idea into the context of your experience, which is all well and good, but you also want to think about framing it so your audience can relate as well. Try tweeting out or polling your audience ahead, and networking between talks to listen to what people are struggling with. And while your talk should share your own story, don’t forget to include other stories, even opposing opinions and approaches.

Find the Right Conferences to Speak at

You can’t apply to speak at all conferences — and chances are you wouldn’t have time or teleporting capability to go speak at all of them anyway. As you look toward the new year, get organised. Try creating a spreadsheet (or having an eager intern do it) including the following information:

  • Call for speakers deadline + link
  • Date of conference
  • Name of conference + link
  • Location of talk
  • Topic of conference
  • Target audience
  • What you would get out of speaking at that conference
  • Hashtags and Twitter handles (if you’re attending a conference, they come really handy!)

Decide which Conferences to Apply to

We all have limited time. And unless you’re a developer advocate, speaking at conferences probably isn’t your job. Once you’ve made your spreadsheet, you can either think about the story you’d like to share OR think of a conference you’d like to speak at and then see if you have something to contribute this year. Then organise your list by order of priority for your next career move.

A conference will be good for you and your business if:

  • It gets you in front of an audience you’re interested in. This can be for recruitment, clients, customers, beta testers, or perhaps something else.
  • It’s the kind of event that gets people thinking differently about something or actually doing something differently. If you can offer a solution to a problem or offer a way to help people work better, you can become part of that story.

If you feel you can achieve either — or both — of these two goals by speaking at a conference and it fits your schedule, then applying to speak looks even better.

Test the Waters

A big room of eager faces and a camera may be too much for you. Perhaps you want to test your topic on a smaller audience. Maybe you just want to get over a bit of stage fright or imposter syndrome first. Testing out a talk at a Meetup or at a conference lightning round is a good way to get a feel for your audience and to feel more confident.

Respond Thoughtfully to the Call for Speakers

Approach responding to a CFP like you would offering an investor’s pitch. It’s just an outline, but you should be always answering your background experience in the matter, why you want to share your story, a bit about your story, and why it’ll help the target audience.

  • 3-5 sentences describing the problem
  • Including the magnitude of problem
  • Proposing a particular solution (which shouldn’t just be for your company)
  • Adding a bio that includes links to your entire public persona (GitHub, blog) and social media

And remember we work in tech, but we work with people! People are at the heart of everything we do!

What other tips can you offer to help people be successful in apply to and speaking at industry events?

After eight years hosting a one-day in person generalist local conference, this year’s Agile Tour London is experimenting. After our sister conference Aginext became suddenly remote, we realized both the capability and desire to host an interactive online experience — not a stilted webinar! With that in mind we will be hosting three days:

  • October 21-22, 2020 Online
  • October 23, 2020 In Canary Wharf, London

Want to apply to give a talk or workshop at the hybrid Agile Tour London 2020? You have from today until June 22, 2020!