8.5 Tips To Find Speakers For Your Meetup

As a Tech Evangelist, one of my strategy of choice to make Stylight known in the local tech ecosystem is to organize meetups. A lot of them. During the last 2 years, I created around 15+ meetups, some of them totaling more than 2500 members like the Machine Learning Munich meetup group.

I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, mostly following a  trial and error process. A while ago I published an article on the best tips for meetups organizers – now I’ll go more in details into my process for organizing awesome events.

#1 problem of a Meetup organizers: Finding speakers

One of the consistent challenges I face when organizing a meetup is to find (good) speakers. In order to keep track of potential prospects, it’s generally useful to have a form online ask for the elements you need to confirm a speaker:  title and abstract for the talk, a short biography and to agree on a date. To make this process simpler I have a Typeform ready for each meetup like this one

What makes a good speaker & a good talk?

Not everyone is born as an orator. The good thing is that it can be learned and perfected. A meetup is a perfect platform to fight your fear of public speaking. It’s always hard to gauge in advance the quality of a speaker – especially if he does not have previous talks online. One thing that I’ve noticed is that a good talk (i.e with good content) is more important than the eloquence of the speaker. Sometimes you’ll also find more junior speakers with just ok talks, but I think once in a while it’s worth giving a chance to speak to the ones without the experience.

So now back to our topic: how to find speakers?

  1. Tap into your close network: colleagues, friends, people you connected to at previous events.
  2. Ask your network on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), if they know someone who knows someone. Be as specific as you can in your ask (type of skills you want, date/length of the talk)
  3. Tap into your meetup group: send an email to your group on meetup to ask if anyone would be willing to talk at a next meetup with a direct link to the registration form.
  4. Tap into Linkedin. This is particularly effective if you’d like a speaker from a particular company in mind. Linkedin has pretty powerful search filter and although you won’t be able to search for a particular technology you can still narrow down your research by location, job title, and company. By viewing the profiles you’ll be able to narrow down your search by looking at the skills sections. Add the contact and add a note to explain you’re looking for someone to speak at your meetup. Et voila!
  5. Tap into Github: Using an advanced search you can filter users in your area on a specific topic. Once I found a relevant potential speaker, I generally contact them on LinkedIn referring to their Github profile, mentioning something interesting I found on their repos…
  6. Tap into Twitter Advanced Search: Specify the topic in the Words>Any of these words, your location and then click on the people tab. Below an example for VueJS in Munich.      
  7. Ask the audience at each meetup if they’d like to give a talk at one of the next events. Encourage people to do lightning talks. It’s less intimidating than a full-blown presentation.
  8. Keep track of key speakers potentially traveling to your city. Check your local conferences calendar for a start.

8.5. If nothing works, take your courage into your hands and do the talk yourself! As it turns out, sometimes you won’t find a speaker, or the speaker you have scheduled won’t be able to make it, try to always have a backup talk that you’ll be able to give in case of emergency!

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