Speaking & Events

Using your status as a speaker to promote others

Being invited to speak at an event confers some benefits. For newer speakers, the most obvious benefit of speaking is to advance your career. Speaking at an event confers a certain amount of legitimacy and status. The fact that you’re on stage and other people are listening to you implies that you’re somebody who deserves to be listened to; that your ideas hold value that the other people in the audience will benefit from them. This is a great thing to have in your back pocket at interviews, and is sure to impress the person doing the interviewing.

Breaking into the speaker circuit

As somebody who both organises and speaks at events, I’ve got a good insight into the workings of the conference circuit. This is probably why I regularly get emails from people looking for advice on breaking into the speaking circuit. So rather than repeating the same advice via email, I thought I’d write a quick article I could point people to.

Talk Tropes and Conference Cliches

Over that last 12 years of attending, speaking and organising conferences, I’ve seen a lot of talks. Probably upwards of a thousand. I’ve seen talks that have inspired me, talks that have challenged me, and talks that left me welling up. During that time I’ve seen themes start to emerge; topics our industry find fascinating and love to revisit time and time again.

Paying Speakers is Better for Everybody

When I attend a conference I'm not there for the food or the venue, I'm there for the content (and occasionally the after parties). So it amazes me that conference organisers typically pay for everything but the thing people are there to see. That's right, despite the often high ticket costs, very few events pay for speakers for their time. I think this is bad for conference goers, event organisers, speakers and the industry as a whole. I'll explain.

Why The Same Old Faces?

In an earlier post I discussed one reason why some people may perceive a lack of new faces on the speaker circuit — namely that by the time you reach the point in your career where you're being asked to speak at conferences, you will most likely have had so much exposure already that you'll no longer feel like a new voice.

The Same Old Faces

I occasionally hear people grumbling on Twitter about the "same old faces" appearing in web design magazines and at conferences. As somebody who takes an active interest in nurturing new talent, I'd hate to think that a deliberate "glass ceiling" had been erected to prevented new people from progressing in our industry.