For our upcoming SearchLove conference in London in October on the 15th and 16th, we are introducing a new kind of session: we plan to have up to four shorter (20 minute) sessions presented by newcomers. We anticipate that this will be perfect for people who’ve got some speaking experience on smaller stages / at meet-ups but who haven’t yet had a big-stage opportunity in front of hundreds of people.
When you’ve had a read of everything that follows, swing by our form and apply for a space. You’ve got 3 weeks to apply (deadline: 18th July 2018).
What’s in it for us and our audience?
Every time we put on a SearchLove show, we (led by our head of events, Lynsey) scour the industry for the best speakers we can find. We often invite back people who blow us away and wow our audience, but we also want to find speakers no-one has seen before. Sometimes we find great speakers who have deep experience in related fields who are underexposed to the search industry, but sometimes we want to be the ones who help people break out for the first time.
In addition to the long game of building partnerships with the great speakers of tomorrow, we believe that these shorter sessions with a little less pressure could end up bringing perspectives and viewpoints we can’t get from our more experienced speakers. Speaking experience often comes with general experience, and that often accompanies moves to management or the growth of the speakers’ own companies. One of the things we also want to see is hands-on advanced and actionable advice from practitioners who are doing the work every day.
We’re also hopeful that we can access a more diverse pool of speakers with different backgrounds and experiences. There are unfortunate barriers in place to getting some of the experience that we typically require and while we put a lot of effort into broadening our intake, we hope that this initiative can play a key role in building the pipeline. (You can tell we’re serious about building a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for our speakers and delegates through the way we bake our code of conduct into our events, and our recent progress: in an industry with too many manels, SearchLove Boston 2018 was our first conference with >50% women speakers and had women appearing as the top-rated speaker and 3 of the top 5 speakers by overall rating.
We know that we will get a bunch of overconfident white men applying (yes, I see the irony in my writing that) but if that doesn’t describe you, I’d really encourage you to throw your hat in the ring.
What’s in it for you?
This should be the shortest path from knowing what you’re talking about to getting full speaking opportunities on the industry’s biggest stages. We have seen first hand the speed that you can move from presenting at a meet-up to local conferences to SearchLove, MozCon or Inbound. But up until now, most of the non-Distilled speakers who made it to the SearchLove stage did so after proving themselves at another conference.
Here’s the full package you’ll receive if you are successful (along with your 20 minutes on stage!):
- 1/2 day speaker training session at the Distilled London office with our team
- Deck review and content call to bounce around your session ideas with me
- VIP ticket to attend SearchLove London including attending the VIP dinner with all the other speakers the night before the conference
- A nice bunch of Distilled and SearchLove swag
Although we hope to roll the scheme out to our US events if it’s successful, we want to give this opportunity to local folks, and so we'll only be accepting pitches from applicants willing to travel to London for this particular conference. If successful, you will be responsible for your own travel and accommodation.
A note on the video requirement
You will note that the application form asks for a video. We debated whether to include this as a requirement and ultimately came down on the side of including it because by far the biggest limitation we typically have with less experienced speakers’ pitches is an inability to judge how they’ll perform on stage when they don’t have a ton of speaking experience and professional on-stage video. We hope that this is the most inclusive way of achieving this. We’re trying to avoid the too-high hurdle of requiring professional footage or big-event experience and this is something everyone can put together.
We are not expecting you to put together a professionally-lit and shot promo video. We want to see your enthusiasm, public speaking capability, and maybe a bit of your depth of knowledge. A selfie video shot on a mobile phone can totally do the job, but think about how you are going to stand out from the crowd and show us what we need to see. Once you have recorded the video upload it to a hosting platform such as Google Drive, Wistia, YouTube or Vimeo and share the URL in your application form.
In order to avoid asking you to do something I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself, I’ve recorded a short pitch myself. You can see that it’s shot on a phone, and didn’t use any editing:
A personal note
I’ve seen in my own career how powerful it has been to get better at public speaking and also the benefits of appearing on bigger stages. I’ve been lucky enough to get enough of a start at our own events to bootstrap my way to bigger opportunities. I remember the 20 or so people who paid about a tenner each to come to our first meet-up, but now we have built up a support and coaching capability within Distilled that has helped members of our team go from their first speaking opportunity to highly-rated SearchLove sessions in a matter of months. Now I want to find ways to get more people access to the same opportunities.
I would strongly encourage you to think about the actual requirements. Don’t fall prey to imposter syndrome: are there things you are passionate about, where you have deep hands-on knowledge, and where you can teach even an experienced audience new things? If so, don’t sweat your speaking experience - let us be the judge of potential and get your application in.
How to apply
You’ll need to tell us:
- Why you’d like to speak at SearchLove
- What your speaking experience looks like so far (remember we are specifically not looking for super-experienced speakers)
- What topic you’d like to talk about - the more specific and actionable a topic you can describe, the better
- Remember, the closing date for applications is 18th July 2018
And you’ll need to send us a short video as I described above!