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Side view of Cassandra speaking in front of the audience at TestBash Philly 2017

Speaking Enquiries

It’s always nice to be contacted with a speaking enquiry.  However, I find myself asking the same questions over and over, due to insufficient information being provided upfront.

 

TL;DR: Before you contact me about speaking at your event, please make sure you have included the following information in your initial request, to increase your chances of a timely and definitive response:

  1. Invitation to speak or submit?
  2. Event details
    1. Event name and website URL
    2. Event organiser(s)
    3. Target audience and estimated size
    4. Date, time, location
  3. Topics of interest
  4. Format and length
  5. Speaker expenses policy
  6. Code of conduct
  7. Remuneration
  8. Deadlines

 

A lot of this is also applicable to, or can be logically adapted to fit, requests to write articles, appear on a podcast, host a webinar, etc.  When you’re sure that you have included all these details, please submit your request via the contact form.  

 

Keep reading for more information about why these points matter.  There’s also a bonus section at the end about what I’d like to see on your website.

 

Items are numbered for reference only and do not imply any difference in importance or priority.

 

 

What to Include in Speaking Enquiries

 

1. Invitation to Speak or Submit?

Are you inviting me to speak without any kind of submission / approval process, or are you just asking me to submit to your call for papers?  For the avoidance of doubt, please explicitly state your intention. I prefer not to receive marketing requests to submit.

 

2. Event Details

Please include the following details about the event:

  1. Event name and website URL
  2. Event organiser(s) (company or individuals, as applicable)
  3. Target audience and estimated size
  4. Date, time, location

Not only is this information essential for me to decide if I can commit to participating in the event, but it will also help me to research it before I make a decision or pick a topic.

 

3. Topics of Interest

With that in mind, please include details of any specific topics that you’d like to see me speak about.  If you have no preference and would be happy with whatever I choose, please state this also.

 

4. Format and Length

Most invites that I receive state whether the invitation is for a talk or a workshop, but most of them don’t say how long the talk or workshop slot is, and even fewer specify if the time given includes questions.  Please provide this information upfront. Some talks are not suitable for shorter or longer slots.

 

5. Speaker Expenses Policy

I’ve made my stance on “pay to speak” quite clear, and you can read about why I don’t pay to speak in another post.  Please share details of your expenses policy for all speakers.  I may consider pay to speak events in exceptional circumstances.  If you feel that this applies to your invitation, please include your reasons why, and make sure that they haven’t already been rejected in the previous post.

 

6. Code of Conduct

Please include a link to your code of conduct.  Again, this helps me with my research in deciding whether I’d like to participate in your event.  If you don’t have one, or it isn’t yet available online, please let me know why.

 

7. Remuneration

Where payment is offered for the service(s) requested (over and above travel and accommodation costs), please include details in your initial request.  Please also state clearly when there is no remuneration offered. Paid work (including revenue sharing) takes priority.

 

8. Deadlines

Please include details of all applicable deadlines, including those for:

  1. Confirmation of participation
  2. Receipt of abstract and biography
  3. Receipt of slides or other materials, if applicable

Since I need time to research the event and properly prepare any presentation, more time is always preferred.  Of course, there may be occasions when an alternative speaker is required at short notice. In these cases, please simply advise that this is the reason for any tight deadlines.

 

 

Bonus: What I Look for on Your Website

 

One of the first places I will look to when researching your event (and the organisers) is your website.  Here are some hints for the kind of thing I’d like to see.

 

1. Diversity in Speakers, Attendees and Organisers

The perception of diversity online is, of course, limited when there is no prior knowledge of the people shown.  However, this includes diversity of gender, race / ethnicity, age, mobility and more. It would be helpful to see statistics about participants from previous events, and the diversity of people who have submitted to speak.  I’d also love to see information about what organisers are doing to improve diversity.

 

2. Event Topics / Themes

I want to know what to expect from the event, and get a feel for the type of people who might want to attend.

 

3. Past and Current Speakers and Programmes

Seeing who else has already (or will be) speaking at the event, and the subjects of talks helps me to decide if it’s a good fit for me.

 

4. Speaker Expenses Policy and Code of Conduct

As stated above, I like to receive information about these in the initial invitation.  However, it’s also good to see these details freely available online, as a sign of transparency.

 

5. Accessibility

I rarely see any information on the accessibility of the event location, any captions offered, special arrangements for dietary requirements, rest rooms, etc.  However, I strongly believe that these aspects should be given more consideration and visibility. The best example I’ve seen of comprehensive and inclusive accessibility measures comes from Levels Conf.  The link goes to a web archive version of their 2018 accessibility page, to control for any future changes as the venue changes for future events.

 

 

How to Submit a Speaking Enquiry

 

Thanks for making it this far!  I hope the information was helpful.  If you’re ready to send me your speaking enquiry, or any other request to collaborate, please do so via the contact form.