This is a rant, feel free to skip it. Also, I am talking about myself in this rant. There are a lot of other speakers who fall into this bucket with me, but everything I’m saying here applies to me.
PHP conferences are changing very slowly, and not in a way that I like. I blame myself. As a frequent speaker I am getting lazy. I get caught up in the excitement of the CfP, I write up 5-10 abstracts and shotgun them into the CfP system hoping that something hits the mark. I’ve not actually written these talks. In most cases, I’m pretty sure I can get 45 minutes on the topic, but I don’t know for sure because I’ve not bothered to write it yet. Adam Culp talks about this very thing in his post “Are Conference Talks Getting Too Soft?“.
The problem is that I’ve lost my focus. My focus should be the cool thing am I dying to share with other developers. Instead, I’m chasing that “Airfare and two nights in the hotel”. I know this because my focus is writing abstracts. That and abstracts that don’t get accepted, I never bother to write. This is backwards. I should be so excited about sharing something that I write it up anyhow. I should blog about it, prepare the slides, and contact my local PHP User Group and see if they will allow me to present it. The local PUG is the lifeblood of our great community. It is important to me that I support them first, then conferences.
Being the Change I Want to See
To help me refocus, I have set myself two goals for 2015.
- I want to present at 5 local PHP User Groups in 2015.
- I will not submit to a conference any talk that I have not written and presented at a local event. (The exception I am making is keynotes because some conferences I speak at ask me to write a new keynote.)
I am refocusing my speaking efforts on talking to the local level. There are probably 5-6 PUGs I can reach by car and can speak at. So as I come up with an idea for a talk, I will first submit it to any and all PUGs that will have me. Then, if that talk seems solid and is helping people, I will submit it to conferences.
This is not to say that I won’t be submitting talks to major conferences, but I will not be submitting talks that I’ve not already written and presented at least once locally.
Looking to Others for Help As Well
I am privileged enough to be asked to help score talks for several of different PHP conferences. in 2015, I will start be a lot more picky in the talks for which I vote. I will look for – and up vote – talks where the presenter makes a note that they have given this talk at a local event already.
So next time you are starting at a CfP, don’t brainstorm a lot of talks, submit them all and write the ones that get accepted. Look at the talks you’ve done for your local PUG, and submit them. You know they exist, you know they work, and you know you are supporting your local PUG.
Wouldn’t it be great if PHP User Group leaders had to start scheduling talks 6 months out? I’ll take that problem any day of the week. :)
Until next time,
I <3 |<
p.s. If you are considering writing a talk and need some help with your abstract, let me help.