This is an extract from Maaret’s blog post 
Speak Easy, why did I join?
With the two points above, I’m still cautionary on submitting to conferences. Speak Easy promotes talking at CAST2015 as of now, and is particularly seeking for women, and I would not submit myself, so I feel a bit odd promoting the idea that you should. However, I think you should.

1. CAST is an experience worth experiencing

I’ve spoken at CAST once, and participated it once before I delivered a talk there. CAST is fun. The open-season style of discussions makes the sessions special, in-depth and high energy. It has been a great place to meet people.  

2. Great conferences deserve great contents

Everyone of us has great contents, practical and relevant experiences to share, things that help others forward. Great conferences are a good place to bring out the best of contents there is. There’s messages we repeat, with different ways of telling the story bound to one’s practical experiences. There’s new messages we should hear, based on the different experiences we have.

Context-driven leaves open an endless selection of contexts. We should share how we do things in different contexts, to learn how what our options are, to become better at what we do.

I believe the world is full of great stories waiting to be heard. I know from experience working with great people delivering wonderful content in Finland, that many people don’t recognize that their personal, hands-on experiences are just the kind of content that we’d like to see. Many people dismiss their experiences as nothing special.

Conferences like CAST cannot go around the world personally inviting people to submit. But with programs like Speak Easy, there’s people like me who can go and ask some people personally to submit.

3. There is work to do in changing the dynamics, meanwhile we need to meet and mingle to talk about this. 

I volunteered for Speak Easy because people will need support finding the thing they should talk about, and can use support in preparing their presentations. I’ve received help, still continuously receive help and would be happy to give back in return.

But the main dynamic that I would like to see changed is financial. I’d like to see work on raising funds on supporting travel costs for diverse speakers – not women, but people from companies that cannot afford to pay for the travel even if people would be willing to share their great contents. This is something particularly dear to me in Finland, something I already had written as one form of action for a testing non-profit we started in 2014 (Software Testing Finland, specializing in context-driven / skilled testing). I see Speak Easy as an opportunity to collaborate in long run in changing this too.

While I’d love to be already able to offer a “scholarship” for people who travel to CAST from Finland, I will need more work on the financing before that is possible. But I will get there. Finland first.

We need to meet and talk about changes we like to see. We need to talk about what is actually stopping us from submitting to conferences, and how we can help in the community. Being in a conference is a great chance for these talks.

Get ready to submit and take mentoring from Speak Easy?

There’s plenty of organizations that have reasons to promote their existence by paying their employees to speak at conferences, yet those organizations have same people submitting. I’d like to encourage new voices where the financial framework already would support it.

There’s people who are willing to invest financially into their career and visibility, but feel they could use help in getting their message out. I really like the concept of finding your voice with Speak Easy – helping you discover what you could share that is extraordinary. And then following through preparations to practice of delivery.
Speak Easy can help when you’re interested in talking. And talking in conferences opens discussions that lead to professional growth I believe would otherwise would not be possible. If you won’t go to CAST 2015, use Speak Easy to do a talk in your local user group. Use Speak Easy to do a talk in a conference that pays for travel. Use it for the conference you have always wanted to attend, to lower the bar of your company sending you there or paying for the time you are there. Get out there and share. Everyone of us has great experiences that will benefit the others when well delivered.

A personal note to end this with
Before I started public speaking, I was horrified of public speaking. I believe that the decision I made to actively work on my fears on public speaking have been the best investment I have made on my career. The transformation from someone who would faint at introducing herself to an audience to someone who gets energy from addressing a crowd of 500 people is almost unbelievable. But, it is what I’ve been through. I got help. I practiced a lot. I still practice a lot. But most importantly, I decided that was a change I wanted to see happen. I wanted to face my fears – and I did.

Speak Easy is a great idea for making finding the help you need easier, all you need to do is say that you want help. How about asking for help today?

You can read the full content here at Visible Quality