No More Conference Talks

TLDR; I’m going to make video presentations rather than spending time writing talk abstracts and here is a video explaining why.

Spot the JS bin sticker

Over the past few years I have been applying to speak at conferences and whilst in the middle of doing it last week I came to realize just how much effort it was filling these things out. Maybe I go over the top with my applications, maybe I am putting too much effort into these things, but I took a mental note of the 2 hours I had thought about how to attract the attention of the people who would be choosing the talk and thought that maybe this time could be better spent elsewhere.

Its not that I didn’t love speaking at conferences, but out of maybe the 60+ ones that I have applied to speak at, I think I’ve spoken at around 4. I had to decline 2 offers from other conference, but still, that’s a pretty small percentage.

I also recognize that I am sure there are people who applied to many more and spoken at many less and I appreciate all the conferences that have asked me to speak, I guess in some way I might show a trail that others can do a bit of public speaking/presenting that is beyond a regular conference. Its not exactly the same thing, but it can be pretty close.

Local Meetups

I’m not stopping from speaking at local meetups at all, in fact I will be at Front End London this month spreading the Metaverse love and am even co-organizing the Web-VR London meetup too. I see meetups as a place to test your material at, much like Stand Up comics will do with small comedy clubs before they go on to do their big special. Local meetups are important for the smaller community that can’t get out to more expensive conferences.

I DID HAVE ONE BAD EXPERIENCE

This is by no means a representation of all conferences, but there was a single experience of a talk submission that really lead me to the path that got me here today. I submitted a talk on WebVR, a subject that I am passionate about, so passionate that I am pretty much betting my company on it.

The talk was ultimately rejected ( no biggie ) and as per usual I just shoot the organizers an email to just ask why — feedback is the most valuable thing that you can get out of this situation. I expect sometimes that there are two or more talks submitted on similar subjects and they had to pick one, or that they didn’t feel the subject would fit the flow of the conference, or maybe my abstract and description were shit and that I need to improve that for next time. All of these are great and can help me when submitting in the future.

They got back to me and the gist of the email was that WebVR wasn’t fitting within the lineup — cool, totally understandable — maybe next year.

A few weeks later when looking at the lineup for the conference, because it was a conference I attend every year and would possibly look to go, I see a talk on WebVR. Now, I don’t care that they picked a different WebVR talk, I’m more than happy to see as many different talks out there on the subject — the thing that bothers me was that in the feedback they could have said that my talk didn’t stand out as the better WebVR talk and that I could improve X or Y.

It bugged me for a while and ultimately lead me here.


  • I will still send my annual CFP to Remy Sharp to speak at Full Frontal. He was once kind enough to let me speak at a side-conference of his always excellent FullFrontalConf — but FFConf was my first ever tech conference in 2011 and I consider it the only way for me to come full circle. So that’s the one exception to the rule.

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