“Do you want to join the speaker’s committee for Leetspeak?”. Just the bare thought of it was frightening when I first heard the words. Leetspeak, which has been sold out in only a couple of hours previous years, needs the absolute best speakers to become the success that it actually is. Without any experience of being part of speaker’s committees I decided – “heck, of course I will rise to the challenge!”.
I had no idea what I was getting into.
So, what does the speaker’s committee really do? In contrary to some popular beliefs, we don’t meet up and have “fika” all the time. Instead, we gather about once a week and discuss which speakers we would like to invite to the conference and what kind of sessions we want. Pretty simple, huh? Well, since the committee consists of Andreas, Emy, Justin, Madeleine and Michał – five people with five different minds and varying interests, it’s a hard task to solve – but it also enables variation amongst speakers and topics. For example Michał is conference junkie and loves F#, Andreas and Justin have a soft spot for hardware hacking, while Emy and Madde are passionate about creating a more equal tech environment.
The first thing we did was to start brainstorming for people that we wanted to invite to the conference and to connect them to the subjects they were speaking about. We knew we had six slots to fill and that we needed a theme that could run as a silver thread through the conference. With that in mind, we chose six different subjects that we found interesting and thought that the community would like.
Thereafter the speculations regarding a possible theme began. Based upon our vision about sessions ideas started forming, one crazier than the other, until we realized the essence of what we were doing – we were bringing a conference to life. Life is something that surrounds us all the time – our code base is alive (and sometimes even has a life of its own…) as our teams are alive and – hopefully – evolving over time. But it’s not always simple to keep something alive, it takes both passion and commitment, which is also the feeling we want the audience to have when they leave Leetspeak.
After deciding that “It’s Alive” was a good theme (especially since that permits us to do something cool like having robots on stage) we begun to map our list of possible speakers to the topics of our choice. This was a pretty simple and straightforward process. But then the fun part began – contacting the speakers and asking if they were interested in speaking at Leetspeak!
I was actually overwhelmed by the positive response we got, because most of the speakers that had to decline did it because they were already fully booked, and asked us to return in coming years. From this we learnt that it’s better to start contacting speakers in good time, perhaps to even as early as a year in advance. This is definitely something we will take into consideration. Since we know that Leetspeak is always taking place in October, creating preliminary plans shouldn’t be too difficult.
The process of contacting speakers was probably the longest, and was carried out in batches until we had a long list of people to choose between, and also a solid list of abstracts for interesting talks. Choosing six people, when we had so many awesome and worthy candidates, was probably the most challenging task we had to face. In moments like that, I really wished that Leetspeak would be a multi-track conference so we could just invite them all.
When that process was over, we simply handed the rest over to our awesome service delivery, who handles everything that has to do with booking flight tickets and accommodations. Though it’s not really really over for us yet – we are still waiting to release the three final speakers as well as all abstracts. It’s a bit nervous but also super fun to hear the feedback we get from the community and to see all the excited people that are waiting as much as us for the 10th of October. Time can’t fly fast enough!
- Number of people contacted: 45
- Amount of fika had: 0…
- Craziest theme idea: “Something, something, something… code.”