Guides Blog Posts

While running CFP Land I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and learn from dozens of speakers around the world. The community has been amazingly welcoming and helpful, so I wanted to give some of this knowledge back by releasing a comprehensive guide to speaking at technology conferences.

Because everyone reading this will start at a different level of speaking experience, you can either jump straight to the section you find most relevant using the Table of Contents below or read all the sections sequentially by looking for the “Next” link at the bottom of each page.

Hundreds of technology conferences take place around the world every year. We catalog over 400 per year at CFP Land, but there are even more that we don’t find. If you’re new to the field, you might be surprised that there could be that many events, but as this post elaborates, no two tech conferences are alike. These conferences range in size, topic focus, cost, and competitiveness for speakers.

Most technology conference attendees never dream of speaking at an event, so they probably don’t even realize what goes into the speaker selection process. In this section, we’ll take a look at common forms of the “CFP” (Call for Proposals) process, and some of the factors that make technology conference speakers stand out.

Once you’re very well established as a technology conference speaker, you might start getting invited to speak, but for most speakers, this takes a long time if it happens at all. The reality is that conferences typically get many more speakers interested than they have slots, so they almost always hold an open Call for Proposals or “CFP”.

Before you can submit any CFPs though, you’ll need to find them. In this section, we’ll look at various methods for finding conferences with open calls for proposals and selecting those that are worth your time.

If you’re considering submitting a conference talk, but you’re not sure if it’s worth it, read on. In this section, I’ve collected the most common reasons people cite for wanting to speak at conferences. Even experienced speakers are constantly finding new reasons to take the stage, so maybe you’ll find a new reason to apply to speak at more conferences.

Speaking is a lot like applying for jobs in that most of the time, you’re going to be rejected no matter how good you are. Knowing what to expect when you are accepted or rejected from a conference can help soften the blow, but it still hurts.

In this section, we’ll cover some of the reasons your talk might have been rejected, what to do when you do get a talk accepted, and how to respectfully decline giving a talk when you can no longer commit to it.

As the day of your conference talk gets closer, there are some logistical considerations that many new speakers probably wouldn’t think about. In this section, we’ll cover all the things you should know before and up to the moment you deliver your presentation.

After being accepted to give your conference talk, the next big step is to create your presentation. Even if you’ve given the talk before, you should revisit it each time you deliver it to make sure it’s appropriate for the specific audience and time allotted.

While your presentation should fulfill the expectations you set forth in your abstract, there’s a big difference between writing a one-paragraph outline and creating a 60-slide deck to fill an hour of stage time! In this section, I’ll cover some tips for creating a great presentation for a technology conference.

Writing and submitting an abstract for a conference CFP (Call for Proposals) is a skill just like actually getting up on stage to speak is a skill. In fact, some great speakers struggle with abstracts more than they do with actually delivering their talk.

Composing a great abstract takes practice, writing skills, and attention to detail that may or may not come naturally to you, but hopefully, this section will help you on your journey. But, before we get to writing an abstract for your talk, you’ll need to pick a topic.

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