Last week, the Microsoft Build team announced the dates of the conference as well as announced that there is a Call for Speakers. Yes, that’s right, the premier MIcrosoft-provided developer event is asking the public to be a part of the show!
I was pretty excited about this as one who has been involved in the Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC), the previous name for this conference, and Build for the past number of years. I shared on Twitter to get excited too!
The Build conference is announced. And notice the link in the header -- OPEN CALL FOR SPEAKERS. Please join us! And join us as a speaker as well...get your well-thought out ideas formulated and submitted! https://t.co/GDdkXOs60P pic.twitter.com/p8qfchZWkN— Tim Heuer (@timheuer) February 6, 2019
After that I got a few questions about the process. I should be clear that I don’t own the process, have no influence over your submission, probably don’t even have a say in the selection of sessions, but generally want to see people try and get excited about the conference and sharing your passion to others on a broader scale opportunity than usual. A few on my team have discussed some of this topic of ‘what’ should people submit as well. I’ll try to change your mind and share my opinion and some thoughts from some colleagues.
First and foremost: TELL A STORY!
I’ve been too guilty myself of being the one to share just all the ‘stuff’ my team did over time. Sometimes these can be fun sharing all the hard work the team put in to releasing a product. These ‘lap around my features’ sessions work well for presenters, but I’ve learned over time may not be the best for the audience. When all I’m doing is telling you about a cool tech feature I’m doing a disservice to your time and the product capabilities usually. I should be telling you how to solve a problem, how to innovate in your project/process, or how to make you more productive. To do this I need to think of you, dear reader/attendee, and not me/my team/my product. So to me, this is the best advice I can give you…put yourself in an attendee perspective and think about what you can share that will help them get to their ‘next,’ whatever that may be.
Some thoughts on how to do this…
- How does your title read? Is it “New network settings for Azure Virtual Machines” or could it be “Be smart and secure your cloud networks” – both probably end up showing a similar tech aspect, but the second focuses more on the problem, putting yourself in the audience shoes. Think of titles as the problem question. And hey, I often give advice as well to ‘think clickbait’ – some people hate that but it puts you in a mindset to entice the reader/user. “Migrating your APIs to serverless infrastructure will save you time and money, I’ll prove it!"
- Brief but specific abstract. Your abstract shouldn’t be full of buzzwords and non-sentences. If it reads like an analyst brochure, re-think it. Start with leading off your title. Someone is reading the abstract because the title grabbed them. Get more practical in the first 1-2 sentences. Keep it brief between there explaining what you’ll show, then end with what THEY will get out of it. Some call this a ‘call to action’ but think about it in those terms like When you leave you’ll know how to save time deploying your containers to the cloud and have more time for code!
- Think of the audience. I said this already but sincerely think of them. Most of the time I’ve seen conference sessions think of the speaker. *I* want to show you something. *I* know better than you so listen to me. Flip that. Put yourself in the other seat and tell them how you are going to help them. If you tell me you’re going to help me in my job in a way that entices me in your language, you’re speaking to me…I’m relating more. I may not know I need to figure out my container clusters in a specific node configuration…but I do know that I have a problem managing my apps at scale, for example.
These aspects speak both to the inevitable session but also to the Call for Speakers selection team. The Build team (and other conferences) will receive lots of submissions. Your title will be the first thing that needs to grab attention. Then your first 2 sentences. Telling a story through those helps be unique and specific to help someone learn and not come across as you wanting to ‘tell them stuff.’ Niall Merrigan has a good post about the process that he has been a part of that touches on some of these. It’s a helpful read from a different perspective. And different perspectives matter! So another pro-tip…run your idea by a few that might be your target audience. That will help!
So with all that said, good luck and submit an idea. We’ve already got a LOT of submissions. I have no idea how many will be chosen from the public group, but force the team to be in a hard place to choose the best and maybe expand the number of them…submit well thought out sessions! Best of luck to you and I look forward to seeing you at Build 2019!
I hope this helps!