"The first rule of Conference Club is to talk about talking at conferences"

Presenting at conferences is a great experience where you get to consolidate your knowledge and connect with other people passionate about the same things. But speaking in front of your peers can be a scary prospect for developers and they often underestimate the value to others of what they know. For instance in our teams, we have lots of experience with XP, Continuous Delivering, UX and JS testing frameworks. Does that mean we're all experts? Not necessarily but we can share practitioner experiences and that's a valuable to people who're only just getting started with new approaches.

Back in January, I started a lunchtime meeting called "Conference Club" for anyone in our team who wanted to learn more about the steps they need to take to present at industry conferences. Five months later, I'm pleased to see that several of the people who came along have submitted sessions to calls for participation and been accepted as speakers.

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We only had a few meetings of Conference Club but it was enough to explore people's worries and share some practical tips on how to get over them.

Basic Steps

  1. TOPIC: Identify topics you are interested in and know something about
  2. BIO: Update your profile on LinkedIn / GitHub / blog / Twitter to reflect your interest/experience
  3. WHERE: Find meetups / conferences that might people go along to discuss that topic which have open space or CFP (call for participation)
  4. DATES: When do you need to submit a proposal by, these can be upto 6 months before the conference date
  5. FORMAT: consider what format is best fit for you and conference (workshop, talk, experience report, etc)
  6. PREPARE: design material slides or exercise to lead session participants through subject of interest.
  7. PROPOSE: put forward your idea to organisers
  8. PRACTICE: do a run thru of session with small group to work out any glitches

One basic thing that speakers need to do is practice so we have a fortnightly lightning talks forum that can be used to build confidence speaking to an audience. Unconference events are also great places to explore a topic as you figure out what you want to present to a wider audience.

Homework Assignments

1) Write a bio for someone else at the meeting using Scott Berkun's tips on how to write a good bio

2) Prepare an answer to one of the following questions from Noel Rappin's blog 

3) Write an abstract for a new session you'd like to propose for a user group or conference.

Useful Blogs

 I also recommend following Callback Women to pick up upcoming call for participation.