Thursday, January 08, 2015

Basic Rules on Conference Speaking Requests ...

I (like everyone else) submits talks via CfPs to conferences that I'm particularly interested in - sometimes I'm lucky, sometimes I'm not. I also get invited to speak at many conferences around the world and whilst it is pleasing to be invited, the majority of these I turn down. There are some basic reasons why I turn down conferences. So, I thought I'd put together a checklist for conference speaking requests. This, of course, excludes LEF & LEF member events, O'Reilly Media, London Cloud Camp and requests from friends which are dealt with differently.

The basic rules are ...

Q1) Is this a specific request or a vague enquiry? If "vague" then I'm busy - even if you haven't told me when your mystery event is.

Q2) Are you paying my expenses? If "no" then I'm busy. I wasn't planning on being at your event, I expect you to compensate any costs.

Q3) Am I travelling business class for any long haul travel? If "no" then I'm busy. If I didn't submit via CfP then I certainly don't want to add discomfort to an event I wasn't planning on attending.

Q4) Are you paying my expenses including flights and hotels directly or do you expect me to pay and then claim them back? If "pay and claim back" then I'm busy. By asking me to pay and then submit a claim, you're asking me to either personally loan you the money or invoke internal company expense and travel policies as the company will need to invoice.  Both circumstances are a quick route to "I'm busy". Make my life easy or I won't attend.

Q5) Is this relevant to my research on competition? If "no" then I'm busy. I'm not going to put the work into speaking if I don't see any value in attending.

Q6) Do I need to fill in lots of forms? If "yes" then I'm busy. Make my life easy.

Please note, the following things don't count as alternatives to direct payment of business expenses and avoidance of form filling …

1) A prestigious event  [please note, everyone claims this]
2) A great opportunity [ditto above]
3) A large number of CxOs attending [ditto above]
4) Potential for marketing [ditto above]

If you pass this list AND if I'm free then I'm happy to consider speaking. However, save yourself the time of asking me if you don't.