I’ve been mentoring people in many ways for many years.

My shortest and best effort so far has been encouraging a person (lets call them B) who nervously volunteered to give a lightning talk at an international conference. I was the talks’ facilitator & I helped edit their talk, and build their confidence (all via email).  At the conference the talk went very well, a mix of an experience report, a new technique and a homegrown tool to support it.  It was a strong story, and I took B around straight away to where I knew the conference convener tended to sit. I introduced him to B, and said how I thought it was a great talk and deserved to be a full session at the conference. The convener was impressed and also recommended B put up a proposal.  B did, and his proposal was accepted. At the conference, it was voted best session by the attendees (but I didn’t know that at the time). At the next conference which I was lucky enough to attend, B gave a keynote with his presentation. I told him afterwards he’d done a great job, and he thanked me for my persistent encouragement. Since then I’m not aware of him presenting beyond local user groups.

I’ve assisted people prepare for dozens of conferences since then, and it’s wonderful seeing people discover their voice and share the things they find important with their peers. I encourage people to make use of the services offered by this site, but I don’t think I’ll ever mentor a lightning/session/keynote again. At the same time I’m hoping someone will prove me wrong!