How to Become a Conference Speaker, and Why You Should

In any week somewhere in the world, you’ll find a pack of programmers, product managers and startup founders hitting their choice of conferences, expos, trade shows, summits, or talks. There are more than a few people who, like professional Hackathon competitors, spend a good part of each calendar year carrying a souvenir tote bag and wearing a lanyard at a convention centre. So much so, in fact, that their life becomes a blur of venues, after-parties, long lunch lines, and darkened rooms where a speaker on stage shares their wisdom — all on someone else’s dime. But while you’ve probably attended a least a few events so far this year, have you ever thought of speaking at one? Let’s take a look at how you can become a conference speaking and how it might benefit you.

Why Do You Want to Be a Speaker?

Why do it? Unless you’re in a job where your role explicitly requires public speaking such as working an evangelist, it might not be something you’ve thought of before. Speaking at a conference or event is a way to share your ideas, stories, and experiences with others, invite debate, and build connections. DZone Leader Chris Ward is an experienced conference speaker and has presented talks in Berlin, Brussels, Croatia and other far-flung places this year. He commented:

Choose Your Conference

If you’re looking for speaker opportunities as a newbie it’s worth not limited your gaze to more famous events like Web Summit, Oscal, or Devoxx. It’s likely that your first presentation isn’t going to be for Ted (although one of their independently planned and organized TedX events in your neighborhood may be an option).

Create a Really Good Call for Proposal

Before you even start writing your talk, you’ll be asked to submit a Call for Proposal (CFP) detailing what you are planning to speak about and why your experience and passions about this particular topic suits the conference you’re applying to.

Build Your Brand

Yes, it sounds a bit tacky but the reality is that conferences are looking to use you to draw people in. Do you have a brand? Maybe you’re active on social media, Medium, in your local tech, open source, or code-specific community or in other volunteering capacities. These are all great ways to build your presence digitally before you try your hand at reaching out to conference speakers. They’ll probably ask for your social media ID. If you haven’t been on Facebook since 2012 and the only account you’re following on Twitter is someone else’s dog, you might want to get to work.

Face the Fear

The art of public speaking is a skill that’s beyond the reach of this article. But I did ask a number of conference speakers about nerves and dealing with the fear of being up on stage. Coraline commented:

Tech journo and writer, based in Berlin, Germany.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store