Find Your Voice: Presentation from Blogworld NY

Jill Foster of Live Your Talk and I presented at Blogworld NY last month, and the topic was a bit different for Blogworld fare. Our session title was Speak Up: Empowering Women to Find Their Voices.

This session was the culmination of a brainstorm with Deb Ng and Rick Calvert of Blogworld after I shared with them the vision for Chain of Daisies: To empower more women to pitch to speak at major tech, business and venture conferences and be a pipeline for conferences looking to diversify their speaker lineups.

The session was packed with mostly women (one or two men did attend), and the interactions were high energy and dynamic.

Here are the slides we started out with to get the dialogue rolling:

The rest of the workshop was very interactive with Jill presenting on how to develop your speaking and presenting “practice” followed by working with the women in the room to develop a list of their speaking topics, titles for proposed presentations and the key takeaways for those sessions.

The overall goal? Submit a proposal to Blogworld West or a conference of their choice. Just. Do. It. And some of the women are doing just that.

You can read a brief writeup of the#BWEVoice session in a post on Huffington Post by Marcia G. Yerman. Stay tuned for details about a West Coast version of the #BWEVoice session. Yes, we hope to be in LA. Will we see you there?

What conferences will you be speaking at this year, and how can we support you in your efforts to speak at more?

A Conference With a Diversity Statement: Web 2.0 Summit

Wow, just saw this (brought to my attention by Lucretia Pruitt). The Web 2.0 Summit has a very explicit statement about diversity on it’s website:

Federated Media, O’Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb believe in spreading the knowledge of innovators. We believe that innovation is enhanced by a variety of perspectives, and our goal is to create an inclusive, respectful conference environment that invites participation from people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations.

We’re actively seeking to increase the diversity of our attendees, speakers, and sponsors through our calls for proposals, other open submission processes, and through dialogue with the larger communities we serve.

This is an ongoing process. We are talking to our program chairs, program committees, and various innovators, experts, and organizations about this goal and about ways they can help us achieve it.

Check out the actual steps they suggest to achieve this aim.

This is phenomenal.

I know that there was a verbally spoken diversity statement last year (I believe Shireen Mitchell was part of that conversation) made by O’Reilly and rumor had it, the directive came from Tim O’Reilly himself. Yet when I had a heated discussion with someone from Web 2.0 Expo, I was given the usual excuse of “we just couldn’t find any women qualified to speak” when I pointed out the continued lack of diversity at Web 2.0 Expo (even as I was totally grateful to be given my first opportunity to speak there).

It is amazing to watch the folks at Blogworld take actions toward diversity and then see O’Reilly put it into words. What next? Actual diversity in the presenters at these influential tech conferences and other conferences following suit?

Wow! What a concept.

What other conferences are you aware of that are actively paying attention to their speaker diversity?

Nice to See Gender Diversity in a Speaker List

Am really pleased to see the mix of speakers coming to Blogworld East in New York City. Men…AND women. It just feels balanced and representative of the population at large.

Not to diminish this incredible progress – AND a very active effort on the part of the folks at Blogworld – but there is another next step to take:

More diversity of color.

Keep on keeping on.

Do you feel represented when you look at speaker lists at top business, technology and venture conferences? If not, what are you doing about it?

I’ll Take Chris Brogan’s Cast Offs

Chris Brogan recently announced that he’s cutting back on speaking engagements. He blogged:

In 2011, I’m cutting back my amount of time on the road. My family has been lovely at letting me get out there as often as I have been, but with new company obligations and with my family wanting me home a little more often, I’m going to pull back some of my availability on the road. Here’s how that will work.

Every month, I will be available for a total of three (3) paid speaking engagements, and (1) industry event (meaning something that pertains to my industry – like BlogWorld Expo). Thus, if you’re holding an event in January, and you’re interested in getting me there, I currently have 2 slots left, as I’ve booked one already. These will be handled first-come, first serve. My fees aren’t very negotiable.

I sent in a comment that I know many speakers – especially female ones – who would gladly take his speaking engagement cast-offs (including me).

Chris has been speaking publicly since 2006 and gets primo engagements, and not just the tech industry events but business and corporate as well. Many female speakers with comparable or even longer speaking resumes still struggle to get booked. I’ve been speaking professionally – and represented by agencies such as Greater Talent Network and more recently The Speakers Group (although I just noticed I’m still not listed on their site. Hmmm…)- since 1995.

In the 90s, I was blessed to be invited to speak globally including for an NGO gathering at De Haag; at an educational technology conference in Stockholm; at a women’s leadership conference in Wellington; and a women’s business summit in Buenos Aires. That was on top of corporate appearances such as symposiums at Arthur Anderson (now called Accenture), internal events at Kraft, and an array of national conferences for organizations such as the Association of Small Business Development Centers and the University Continuing Education Association.

I continue to work diligently to build my professional profile, publish widely (including my 8th book coming out Spring 2011 about crowdsourcing), social network with the best of them, and try to translate that into more paid speaking engagements. But the engagements that are well-suited to my background – and especially those that pay – are predominantly covered by male speakers.

This is not an attack on male speakers – and certainly not on Chris Brogan who is a lovely human being and an engaging presenter. This is just to state a reality that many female speakers face: even after years presentation experience at the keynote level with high ratings and reviews, we still have to fight tooth and nail to get a gig, and most often are offered a fraction of our male counterparts. I’ve had speaking agents tell me flat out that there are very few women on the professional speaking circuit today who can “break $10,000,” but getting $10,000 or more for even a novice male speaker is an easier sell than a seasoned female one. I kid you not.

In the spirit of full disclaimer, I haven’t yet broken $10,000, but I’m close. However, speaking gigs at that level are rarely found in the social or new media industries so my main focus of opportunities are outside of technology. There are many verticals where an expertise like mine in Internet marketing that spans 20 years can bring valuable insights to anyone regardless of if they are selling widgets, booking travel, building green buildings, or manufacturing toilets. (Yes, I’d be honored to speak at the Japan Toilet Association‘s annual conference or the World Toilet Summit in Philadelphia.)

So I’m willing to put myself out there and say to Chris Brogan “I will take your speaking cast-offs,” and if I am not qualified or available, I will gladly share the opportunities with other dynamic, experienced speakers. And yes, I’ll probably refer a lot of awesome female speakers I know who are in the same boat as me. Because we have to stick together. And if I have something to share, I will share the wealth. That’s just the way I roll.

What have been your experiences getting booked as a speaker or finding and booking speakers?

What Can Chain of Daisies Project Do?

As I continue to brainstorm the form Chain of Daisies Project can take, I started doodling diagrams to illustrate the vision. The main idea is to serve both women who are seeking speaking opportunities at business, tech and venture conferences and providing the organizers of these conferences with a pipeline of qualified women speakers.

Here is what this might look like:

What would you add to this picture?

Welcome to Chain of Daisies Project

Help create a pipeline for tech, business and venture events of qualified women who can speak or present at a high level.

This can be an “overlay” to the many tech, biz & venture conferences that have a dearth of women represented as keynoters and workshop leaders, and yet they are very cognizant of this fact and want to change it for the better.

Let’s work together to make positive change!

Are you game?

If so, please get in touch.