If you know me at all, you know that I speak at approximately 15-20 events per year. Sometimes, at small local conferences. Other times, at larger national conferences. And still at other times, I'm lucky enough to be invited to international events.

The reason I do it is much less about marketing or exposure, and much more about sharing my ideas in what I view as the "agile community". Even though I'm a strong introvert, I enjoy getting out there and meeting people. Getting the opportunity to share, debate, network, argue, and simply chat about all things agile (and the occasional other topic ;-)

One of the things I've noticed in these efforts is the wide differences in how conferences "handle" speakers.

Some are incredibly thoughtful. They:

  • Reach out to you and invite you to speak;
  • Explain the conference theme and help you target your talks;
  • Help you with the submission process;
  • Help you with the registration & travel plans;
  • Greet you at the conference, helping you find your way around to your sessions;
  • Make sure your room is setup properly and introduce you;
  • Say "Thank you" in some fashion; perhaps offsetting your travel and other costs.

While others frankly treat you like a piece of meat. They:

  • Leave it up to you to get your room ready;
  • Don't provide any expense offset;
  • During the presentation proposal process, you get no feedback other than accept or reject;
  • Often they don't even say "thank you" at the end of the event;
  • Expect you to "fend for yourself" in finding your way around;
  • View things as if they're doing you a big favor by allowing you to speak.

I wanted to write this post to shine a light on the "good ones" and encourage many of the challenging conferences to step their game up a bit.

Here's a blog post by Katrina Clokie who shared how she had "cared for" speakers at a conference in New Zealand. I thought it was a wonderful example:


And here's a blog post by Troy Hunt who shared a "Top 10" of insights related to how best to treat your speakers at conference:


And finally, here's another Open Letter from Michelle Mazur that I wanted to share:


Wrapping Up

I hope conferences in general "up their game" when it comes to their speakers. Yes, attendees are of major importance at conferences. As are the volunteer committee members. But the speakers are why the attendees are coming and you ought to treat them as valuable participants and with respect too. Otherwise, they might not come back...

Stay agile my friends!


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