Our Call for Speakers Process

Last night we (Doug, Andy, Sarah and Rick) met at the Duke of York after work to go through this years applicants from our call for speakers.

I thought I’d write a little about our call for speakers selection process, as well as share a few stats about those that applied.

The Process

Last year, I anonymised the process for the Dot York call for speakers. By this, I mean that I redacted the submissions before sharing them with the rest of the team, removing references to the applicants name, gender, expected fee etc. Meaning the only information the team had were the abstract for the talk and a brief bio.

Round One

We each read all of the applications and made some notes. We then went through each talk one by one, comparing notes and sorting them into three categories: those that we all agreed we’d like to hear, those that needed more discussion and those that we all agreed weren’t suitable.

Now is probably a good time to give you some numbers. We received submissions for 26 talks, 4 of those had unrealistic expectations for fees (and were all based in the US—we will pay for travel but can’t afford travel + a few thousand dollars). So that left us with 22 talks to consider.

Where were those people located, I hear no-one ask, well…5 were from York and another 4 from elsewhere in Yorkshire. We had 7 applicants from the rest of England, 1 from Scotland, 3 from Europe and 2 from South America. 6 of the 22 were Female, 16 were Male.

After round one, we had 2 in the yes pile, 5 in the no pile and 15 that needed further discussion.

Round Two

After getting in another round at the bar, it was time to take a look at how and where our 2 yesses fit into our current line-up.

Before the call for speakers, we had 7 confirmed speakers and 3 we were waiting to hear back from. We‘re aiming for 4 speakers per session (4 sessions) so that meant we had 6 slots left to fill.

We sorted our 10 ‘approached’ speakers into sessions and added in our 2 new talks. That left us with some gaps in each of the 4 sessions.

Round Three

Returning to our 15 talks that we set aside for consideration. We ran through them and sorted them into the sessions. Then looked at where the gaps were.

Numbers again: Of the 22 talks, 5 were technical, 5 were design-related, 3 were about business and 9 were around personal development.

This was tough and was the part of the evening that took the longest. We discussed each talk, comparing them to what we already had and looking back at our original notes. Where a talk had a mixed response we let the team member who felt strongest about it try and sell it to the others. Eventually, after much discussion, we settled on our line-up.

Results

We’ve chosen 6 talks to add to the 10 we had already approached. We also have 3 reserves, should those that we are waiting to hear back from not be able to make it.

While now isn’t the time to share who we chose, I will say that applicants this year were of an incredibly high standard, we are thankful to everyone that took the time to apply, and that we’re really excited about our line-up!