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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.

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.