Much digital ink has been spilled on the subject of diversifying the speaker pool at tech events, and in particular, getting more women to give presentations. (I won’t rehash that conversation here, and if you don’t think diversity at tech conferences is important, this post isn’t for you.)
I want to share a simple technique I use to try to get more awesome women speaking at events I care about. And it’s pretty simple. I contact all the women I know who have expertise in the subject at hand – often WordPress – and encourage them to speak.
It’s so simple, but it works. Very often women let self-doubt take over, and need that extra nudge to submit a talk. A friendly word or two of encouragement is often all it takes.
Behold: The Flatter-Nag
One of my friends who I recently prodded to submit a talk to a local conference gave my technique a name I think is quite apt:
Flatter-nagging: Asking someone to do something while simultaneously complimenting them.
Sometimes, they respond that they’d been thinking of applying, but weren’t sure what to pitch. So I help them brainstorm ideas – starting with the simple question “What are you most passionate about when it comes to WordPress” – and that usually helps to narrow down the topic pretty quickly.
Sometimes, the reaction is more like, “Who, me?” They don’t feel like they know enough to speak publicly about WordPress. What I find fascinating is this response has come from people who help users troubleshoot WordPress issues all day! (It’s amazing how we take our knowledge for granted, myself included.)
I gently remind them that they surely know more than they think, and that people love hearing speakers share what they’re passionate about.
If this is an issue you care about, try out my technique sometime – or share it with others. I hope you’ll find it simple, but effective.