Tips for Programming Conferences

Organising events is surprisingly difficult. It’s about more than simply booking a space, setting up an Eventbrite page for ticketing and asking some people to stand on a stage. Aside from the logistics of finding your audience and getting everyone into the space to have an enjoyable time, creating the programme for an event can require a lot of thought and preparation.

We’d like to collate a list of tips that will make the experience of being a speaker better for everyone (regardless of gender). A good speaker experience means better talks, which means a better event, which means a better time for the audience and more kudos for the organiser. So it’s all win-win really. If you have any thoughts, recommendations or examples of best practice, then please add them to this Google form and we’ll try and collate them in a useful way.

Here are some of our tips:

> Look for speakers as early in advance as possible

> If you’re doing an open call, then give people an indication of the stuff you want them to think about. The EMF Camp call for proposals is practically a model of how to do that.

>  Once you’ve found your speakers, give them plenty of notice for everything. Unless you’re a professional public speaker, giving talks is all about preparation.

> If you have a brief (regarding timing, topic, technology to use) give it out as early as possible

> Go out of your way to make your speakers feel comfortable. I don’t mean Mariah Carey-style riders of kittens and pink champagne, but they’re going to be performing for you, and you want them to be good. This post from Russell Davies has a few helpful pointers.

> Make sure the person introducing the talks knows who the speakers are and what the talks are about

> Ideally, allow the speakers to have some kind of communication with each other ahead of time, so they’re aware of any overlaps and crossovers

> Make it pleasant. Writing, practising and delivering a talk is a lot of work. Make it worth the speakers’ while.

> And if it’s a paying event, then you should pay your speakers some money

Please add your thoughts and/or examples to this Google form and we’ll collate them.

Wikimedia Diversity Conference, November 2013

Wikimedia have asked us to spread the word about their upcoming Diversity Conference. If you would like to propose a session, registration closes on 20 September.

Have you ever edited Wikipedia or are a regular contributor? Would you like to join us at the Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Berlin on 9-10 November 2013? We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and abilities with a special perspective on Wikipedia that would like to be involved in the upcoming event. You can find more about it here:
We are aware of the worryingly small number of female contributors to Wikipedia. Diversity also has many other aspects alongside gender that may impact the quality and quantity of knowledge that Wikimedia projects aim to share with the world. We are organising this conference to help understand what diversity means for Wikipedia and sister projects, and to further develop our approaches for increasing diversity.
By joining us, you would be able to contribute your experiences and perspectives during the conference, and possibly be involved in the planning process (e.g. discussing the scope of the event). Please do go ahead and register via the link above. Scholarships are available.

Going Public: Launching the directory with Lanyrd.

We’re very close to making the Articulate Speaker Directory public and we want to let everyone who’s signed up know what’s going to happen to their information.

Lanyrd, the social conference directory, has a new speaker directory feature, which highlights interesting speakers and helps event organisers find exciting and relevant talent for their events. We’re really pleased to say that Lanyrd is supporting Articulate, and will soon be hosting the first public version of the Articulate Speaker Directory.

This means that at the end of August, we’re going to import the entire directory into Lanyrd. If you already have a profile there, you will be flagged as a member of the ‘Articulate Network’. If you don’t, a new page will be created for you, and you’ll get the chance to add more information about yourself. Speaker pages look like this; you’re contact information won’t be publicly available and only information about your speaking experience and interests will be listed.

If for any reason you don’t want to be listed, then let us know by emailing by 30 August with the subject line “Remove me from the directory”. After that date, you will able to remove your profile from the live speaker directory or otherwise change or update your details.

Getting the directory out in the open will allow us to concentrate on the next and most important bit: getting conference organisers to widen their net and find more diverse, interesting and relevant speakers. We’re looking for advocacy and engagement partners too, so if you’re interested in getting involved, let us know at the above address.

Call for speakers: EPIC

If your professional practice takes in ethnography in any of its forms, from design research to big data to business innovation, take a look at this call for speakers. There are lots of ways to get involved, from full length talks, to putting forward artifacts for discussion, to short Pecha Kucha talks.

EPIC is an international conference on the current and future practice of ethnography in the business world, and it’s coming to London’s Royal Institution on the 16-18 of September, 2013.

Since its inception, the EPIC conference has brought together a dynamic community of practitioners, scholars and entrepreneurs concerned with how ethnographic thinking and methods for understanding human behavior in the contemporary world are used to transform the worlds of business, innovation, service design, the public sector and beyond.  By understanding people, what they do, how they do it and how these change over time, we can create better business strategies, processes and products, as well as enhance and simplify people’s lives.

Call for submissions – Deadline: March 9th, 2013
We are seeking engagement with social design firms, public policy developers, think tanks, the variety of marketing sciences, business schools, the design sector; in fact anyone using ethnographic research to inform design, business, or innovation. This may take the form of various theories made relevant and useful today, present discussions on technology such as how businesses, cities and communities are using ethnographic ways of knowing to find balance in a time of transition, including:

  • How ethnographers are pushing the boundaries of theory from the social sciences and humanities (i.e., rituals, symbolic interpretation, gift-exchange, kinship, participation, access and agency, etc.);
  • The phenomenon of Big Data and the use of technology to support ethnographic data collection, organization and analysis
  • How ethnographic research and social science thinking inform sectors in transition, such as finance, education and energy

If you are thinking to yourself, ‘I could attend but I couldn’t possibly present’, think again. There are many ways to get involved, we encourage submissions for Papers, Artifacts and Pecha Kucha sessions. You can read the full Call on the EPIC 2013 conference website:
Questions? Email us at

Call for Speakers: Cleanweb

Chris from Cleanweb got in touch, they run a monthly meet up with short talks where people share ideas and experiences around the web and sustainability. They’re really keen to encourage new speakers and working towards a more diverse roster of speakers, either for 15-20 min talks, or 5 minute lightning talks.

Every month, we run a meetup, usually presenting a series of talks at a given venue in London, with a capacity of between 50 and 100 people.

Generally the talks tend to cover the intersection between cloud computing and cleantech, and applying the ideas inherent to the web in aid of sustainability.

These might cover websites to help people network around local food, building energy monitoring systems with internet facing APIs, making the web itself greener, or developing online tools for sustainability.

Inspired somewhat by the O’reilly conference diversity page, we’re actively seeking to increase the diversity of our attendees, speakers, and sponsors through our calls for proposals, and through dialogue with the larger communities our members make up.

That said, we’d appreciate your help in this process, and here are a few ways you can do so:

  • recommend speakers or potential organisers
  • forward our requests for speakers to relevant communities, letting them know we’re after more diverse speaker lineup
  • get in touch to suggest with any other ideas to help make for more diverse meetups

If you’re umming and ahing about volunteering for a talk, or thinking of doing one but don’t feel ready to give a talk yet, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re happy to give pointers on content, or any advice to help get you the point where you can share something you’re interested with a friendly community in a safe atmosphere.

Find out more here

Call for Speakers: Ruby Manor

Ruby Manor have been in touch – they have an open, anonymous submissions process and are really keen to have more submissions from women and other under-represented groups.

Ruby Manor is a one-day, community-driven event based in London, which aims to strengthen the community of Ruby Developers via a generous handful of interesting presentations and lots of informal getting-to-know-each-other. We’re looking for talks that are principally about interesting aspects or uses of the Ruby programming language, or generally anything that might be of interest to an audience of mostly-Ruby but principally-curious developers.

We use a simple tool called Vestibule ( to submit proposals, and strongly encourage the community to help presenters refine and explore their proposals. This way, everyone has the opportunity to really influence the content of the day, and we find that it really helps presenters ensure that their material is as relevant and engaging as possible. Proposals can be as long or as short as you like – if there are aspects that may benefit from clarification, the suggestions process should help us drive that out together. Proposals are also anonymous, and will be selected purely based on interest from the community.

Once the successful proposals have been selected by the community, we’ll also help to develop and polish the presentations, via rehearsals where possible and other mechanisms where otherwise necessary. Presentations will be a maximum of 30 minutes + 10 minutes for questions, although if you have something interesting you’d like to talk about which takes less time, then that’s OK too. We’ll build the schedule around the best proposals, rather than forcing everyone into an equal-sized slot.

Future plans for Articulate

Since the Articulate list was set up, we’ve been working hard to understand how best to harness the groundswell of support into something that grows effectively and builds momentum. We know that the problem of lack of women speakers at events is not simply going to be solved by saying ‘hey, there’s a list of women here you can look at’. This has been done in the past and hasn’t worked. We’re trying to create something much more sustainable and longer term, working with people who programme events and conferences to think, debate and challenge the process of speaker selection and to give people the assistance they need in training to improve their speaking skills.

Over the next three months, we’re looking to do three things:

  • Build a digital tool that makes it easy to search the list, update your details and grows with you as a speaker
  • continue to work with conference organisers to send out calls for speakers via this blog and the mailing list
  • get funding in place for a part-time project manager who can keep building momentum, find training opportunities and manage Articulate’s future

What can you do now?

  • Recommend a friend to the list – the more comprehensive the list is, the more powerful our collective voice will be. Get friends to sign up at
  • sign up to beta test our first version of the digital tool – we’re going to build a little prototype over the next couple of months, and would love your help with research and testing – email
  • pitch conference organisers with your ideas for talks. You don’t have to wait to be asked.

The digital tool will probably involve a searchable, contactable  list of speakers by expertise type, so if you signed up but are now not comfortable with your details being added to a directory of speakers, please let us know by emailing with Unsubscribe as the subject line and we’ll remove you.

Team Caper and Mudlark

Future Everything

Future Everything (Manchester, 21st-24th March) covers topics like these


Data sits at the centre of many debates today, as whole industries and institutions are reshaped by the Big Data revolution. Business, education, culture AND government have the chance, through data driven services and platforms, to create completely new possibilities for engagement with citizens.

In the Data Society, it’s essential that we all understand our relationship with Data: Can we use it? Do we own it? What can we learn about ourselves from the data we produce?


Cities, the natural spaces for innovation, are at the foreground of change today. Technologists and urbanists, grassroots groups and communities of hackers and makers are working with citizens to make our urban environments better. Digital is offering us the chance to rethink infrastructures and services, from transportation to energy, and reinvigorate our public spaces.

Future Everything will showcase how Future Cities are becoming public laboratories to rethink the way we live.


New Media Artists, Interaction Designers and Creative Coders gather at FutureEverything to present how they are transforming the texture and aesthetic of our world. From live 3D scanning installations to rapid prototyping, software art to apps as a medium for creativity, during the festival Manchester becomes one of the premium locations in the world to witness the future of art and design.

If you’re interested in getting involved and participating in the FutureEverything 2013 Summit, please send them a response to one or more of the identified issues below, along with bio information.

  • If open data is what we should be pursuing, why? What are the dangers in pursuit of an open agenda?
  • In the coming data age, what must we do to help to facilitate bottom up innovation and engagement with citizens, rather than just big corporations?
  • What is structurally important to ensure that future cities and engagement with smartphones, tablets and twitter accounts pursues real impact across society, not just the privileged and technologically enabled?
  • In an age of fast innovation and plagiarism, how sacred is the creative idea? For a creative digital business, how do they protect, or capitalise, their ‘IP’ while remaining open, collaborative and accessible?

Send your response to Tom Higham by 21st January. The conference will be held in Manchester, UK on 21st – 24th March.

Call for Speakers: All Your Base

All Your Base 2013 (October 18th, in Oxford) is looking for developers with direct experience of developing systems built with NoSQL, traditional RDMS, or in browser databases who have an interesting story to tell.

They’re keen to hear from first-time speakers and are happy to support you through the process of pitching and writing the talk

John offers:

If selected speakers think they would like to attend a public speaking workshop we’ll fund a workshop with a coach we have used in the past, or put £200 towards a speaking course/workshop of your choosing.

Selected speakers will get plane/train tickets paid for, two nights hotel in a lovely 4* hotel in Oxford and we’ll host a speakers dinner the night before the conference. For those flying in, we’ll pick you up from the airport personally and pay and arrange your taxi back to the airport.

Some example ideas for talks, just examples it is your story!

  • Have you moved to NoSQL from MySQL?
  • Have you moved back to MySQL/Postgres from NoSQL?
  • Do you use NoSQL, MySQL and in browser databases in one stack?
  • You have written an excellent abstraction layer for latest cool NoSQL technology?
  • You work for an amazing company who have a cool open source database technology that you’d like to tell us about?

Please email John with your ideas, or you can give him a ring on +44207 976 4894 if you’d like to talk it through first.