Christian Heilmann

⚡️So you want me to talk?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

"Do You Expect Me To Talk?"

Conference organisers: I also made a shorter cheatsheet with all this info for you.

Hi, I am Chris,

I love public speaking – so much that I spent most of the last three years on the road (with an average of 37 conferences a year in over 30 countries).

I am also a very busy man (yes, my Twitter stream might make you think otherwise, but I am not kidding) and I am getting roughly 200-300 emails a day and about an offer to speak each day. This is not boasting, I am happy that people want me to speak, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

You can see where I will be speaking here and if you see a gap where your event fits in, send me an email with the subject [Speaking opportunity]. Please include:

  • The dates and location of your conference
  • The nature of your conference (who do you target, how many people you expect, how many talks will be there)
  • The nature of the talk (keynote, workshop, panel…)
  • If there are any travel arrangements or not (more on that later)

Speaking Terms

I am a professional presenter with lots of experience. Therefore I want to make sure that there is no misconception about what I expect and deliver.

If I speak at your event I will:

  • Prepare a fitting, bespoke talk for the intended audience. I am happy to discuss content with you but I will not send slides for review and change by conference organisers. I deliver a unique talk every time I can and it will be an up-to-date talk. This can not be achieved if I need to send in the deck weeks in advance. I will not use a conference “slide template” (I tend to switch tools), but I am happy to add a cover slide. Slides to me are wallpaper of a presentation and I treat them as such.
  • Deliver the talk on time and sticking to the defined format and duration. I need to know what time frame you expect and what format you want it to be in. I will show up at the times you need me to be there and set up on stage with enough time for AV people to wire up microphones and other equipment. I tend not to need any dry-run or setup, but I am happy to do so if that is your conference policy.
  • Use my own computer to deliver my talk. Many times I will go beyond slide decks and show live code and examples. My setup is a Macbook Air and I will bring my own VGA dongle and remote control.
  • Attend your event to mingle with attendees. I do speak because I want people to learn something. Therefore I will take part in your conference to be able to answer people’s questions before and after my presentation or workshop. I consider parachuting in and out of conferences and only mingling with other speakers a waste and unprofessional demeanor for a conference presenter. We’re not rockstars or actors who deliver a concert or play and leave.
  • Promote my presence at your event. I will tweet and blog before, during and after the event about what I will do at your event and interesting things I encounter.
  • Publish my slides and screen recording after my talk. If there is a good enough connection, this normally happens right after the presentation. Everything I create at your event will be licensed Creative Commons unless otherwise agreed.

All this is a lot of work, and beyond what is generally considered practice for presenters. Therefore I expect professional treatment by the conference organisers. In essence, here is what I expect you to deliver:

  • I expect a prime speaking slot. I’ve proven to be a good keynote speaker and find interesting topics to open or close conferences. I also work well as a moderator or on-stage interviewer. I don’t feel I am used to the best of my abilities for your event when I speak to a half-empty room in a side track. I am happy to promote and remind people of side-track activities though.
  • A professional stage setup. I bring my own laptop and connectors, but I expect at least a power plug and a microphone. I am very good with audio engineers (having been one myself) but I am not there to fix audio issues or set up projectors. I expect this to work and be available. I normally don’t need an internet connection, but would love to have one.
  • I want to have a recording of my talk. As each of my talks are unique there is no danger that people can attend one they already have seen on the web. Recordings are a great advertisement for your conference.
  • If possible, I’d like you to cover my travel and hotel. I am on stage and need to be able to concentrate on that. I can not do so if I need to find lodgings and organise travel to your event in addition to presenting. I don’t expect first class or business class flights, but I do expect to arrive a day before the event and leave the day after with lodging organised in between. I do not want to book and pay myself and get reimbursed. International payments are a mess and I don’t have time to deal with paper work in between events seeing that I am presenting almost every two weeks. I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but I want to concentrate on my talks, not try to explain to the tax department what all these invoices are about.

Some of these are negotiable and depend on the nature of your event. For example I am fine to cover my own travel expenses for a single track, independent, not-for-profit event, but I don’t see a point in doing the same for a commercial multi-track conference with a high price tag on the ticket. If you make money, it is just fair to share the load. I go above and beyond my call of duty as a presenter and I’d like to see this being appreciated.

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