Lead a session – a great path to self-improvement

As you might know I’m Programme Chair for the SPA Conference. In the past I’ve also done this for XPDay and presented or run sessions at both (and others). I find it a hugely rewarding activity, particularly because it feels like I’m giving back to communities which have helped and inspired me so much in the past. However there are plenty of other reasons why running sessions or presentations at conferences or community events is a good thing:

Free entry
Having a session accepted at SPA means free entry. In some cases like Agile 2012 (submissions close Feb 19th) this also includes travel and hotel expenses.

Use it as an excuse to learn something like a new language or concept
My friend Willem did this at SPA last year – he wanted to learn Puppet so he organised a session about it and went away and learnt it.

Try your ideas out in front of smart people
SPA particularly attracts a wide range of people, most of them very smart and experienced. Running a session around an idea or technology is a great way to exploit their knowledge (people are generally more than happy to do so if it’s an interesting idea).

Improve your self-confidence and communication skills
There’s nothing like standing in front of 15-50 extremely smart people – and being appreciated for doing so – to boost your confidence. Having considered myself deeply inferior to the likes of those who presented at conferences I was tricked into submitting some proposals only to find they all got accepted. Even more amazing was they actually went down really well.

If I see on someone’s CV that they’ve presented sessions at community events they rise up in my estimations greatly and I’m sure that’s the same for pretty much anywhere.

SPA Submissions finish at the end of January. You only need to have the idea formulated now. The conference is in July so you’ve got 6 months to make it sweet. Get it in this by Sunday and you’ll benefit from the feedback process which starts next week.

What are you waiting for?


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