Speak Easy


Attend the YOW! technical presentation workshop in Sydney for free!

We’re pleased to offer the chance for you to attend the YOW! Technical Presentation workshop to be held in Sydney on 1st May – for free! We have just one spot available at this women-only workshop – to be in with a chance to take this spot, simply email us at contact@speaking-easy.com and let us know why you should be the one to attend. This competition closes 15th April 2015.

CAST 2015


We are excited to announce we are working with CAST 2015 to help develop diversity in their speaker program. If you are an inexperienced speaker and you wish to be mentored and secure a spot at CAST 2015 submit your details and we will connect you with an experienced mentor who will help you create an abstract, put together your talk (if you get selected) and help you gain experience in speaking. Go on! You know you want to!

Why I chose Speak Easy to develop my talk proposal

I have had the wonderful experience of becoming acquainted with Speak Easy as I prepare a talk proposal for the CAST 2015 conference. As an educator with experience speaking in front of students, people might wonder why I chose Speak Easy to help me prepare my talk.

Speak Easy has paired me with a great mentor (one of many!) to help me streamline my ideas and test them out one-on-one before bringing them to a wider audience. I am excited by the opportunity to work with distinguished professionals to develop a proposal for a talk that I intend to be clear, concise, and informative to my audience of professional colleagues.

This is why I chose Speak Easy!

You can do this. And we need you!

I’m a shy person, but have always been passionate about helping my team do good work. That meant I had to learn to speak up sometimes. It also meant I needed to learn a lot of other things! I saw all these great conferences around, but couldn’t afford to register. So I started submitting proposals.

I met with much rejection, but I kept on. One conference asked for a paper along with the proposal. A tech writer friend offered to edit my paper and proposal. She did such a good job, I was accepted. The conference organizers liked my paper so much, they invited me to present at a conference in Europe. Once I had experience, it was much easier to get accepted at other conferences.

I also volunteered a lot. I helped start a local user group, and was the presenter at our first meeting. I volunteered for conference track review committees (a great way to learn proposal-writing tips!). I volunteered to do grunt work at conferences. I had so many learning and network opportunities. I shared my experiences with others, and learned so much from theirs. I was able to help my teams deliver better products. I kept working on my presenting and facilitating skills. But I found that participants liked that I was a “worker bee” like themselves, we learned together.

You can do this too

We all have experiences, good or bad, to share. Many others run into the same problems we did. What we tried to solve the problem may help someone else.

Speak Easy helps you find that person who can help polish up your proposals, or shepherd your first conference presentation. Those of us with experience can help you find your niche. Perhaps, like me, you are more comfortable facilitating a workshop rather than delivering a lecture. Or maybe you’ve secretly been going to Toastmasters for years and you’re already an amazing speaker, you just need help writing a proposal that will get accepted. If you don’t feel confident, some of us are happy to pair propose and present with you.

Here’s a secret: every time I do a session, I think, “OMG, I’m terrible, I messed that up, I’m never doing this again”. But then participants come up to me afterward, ask questions, and thank me for all they learned. They write nice things in the evaluations, even though I don’t consider myself a good speaker (though I am a decent facilitator). I’ve also learned that it is much more fun to pair on a session, and I do that a lot. I might do it with you!

The software world needs you

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of going to conferences and finding the same consultants and vendors are delivering the same talks as the year before. We need fresh faces and voices. We need new perspectives. We need creativity and innovation! We need to hear about what you and your teams do, so we can steal your good ideas.

Conferences with homogenous speakers who all do the same thing aren’t good learning experiences. We need to see our problems from many perspectives. We need diverse experiences to come up with creative experiments to try. Diversity at conferences could lead to more diversity in software teams. It could help our careers. It could mean better products for our customers.

Your team needs you to come to conferences to learn. We need to learn from you. Everybody wins!


Submitting to Conferences

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

Speaking Easy, Part 1: Why it Matters

An excerpt from Eric Proegler’s blog post on why he became a mentor.

I recently volunteered to be a mentor for the Speak Easy program that Fiona Charlesand Anne-Marie Charrett have started. Being accepted as a mentor is one of the proudest moments of my career. I’d like to talk about why this program matters, why I volunteered, and why this honor means so much to me.

My experience as a conference organizer bears this out. Women are not the only underrepresented group as speakers at most technical conferences; it’s essentially every demographic besides straight white dudes that has a less-than-proportional ratio of conference attendee to conference speaker at most conferences I’ve attended. Try that experiment – assess proportions of the audience relative to the proportions of the speakers – at the next conference you attend (or when looking at a board, executive team, government body, etc). You know, in case constantly being told this is an issue wasn’t enough, and you needed some independent verification.

You can read the full post here on Eric’s Blog

Older Posts