Should All Speakers be Curated from the Community?

If you hang out with enough speakers, you’ll end up hearing this (dreaded) line: “I only go to events I speak at.” To me, this is a selfish and borderline exploitative take on the role played by a speaker at an event. I’m a big fan of putting yourself in learning situations, and a conference is perhaps the perfect place to do it. By saying you only attend events you speak at, you are concurrently saying, “I’m bored with your content” and “I am better than your community.”

As an organizer, I thought it would be fun to play around with the idea of curating event speakers directly from the community. Ignite Boulder is 100% community curated (organizer pics count too, as I see it). It is a requirement that you have attended an event to speak at it. It has worked out pretty well.

How would you extend this to a bigger conference? I tried something and thought it was pretty neat. When I called a speaker to give the final “We want you to speak!” invite, I began the call with “Are you excited about the x event on x date? Are you going to join us?”

If they answered with “I only go to events I speak at,” the conversation ended.

If they answered with “The speakers look fantastic!” or “Planning on it!” my next line would be the invite to speak.

From what I’ve noticed, this drops the dead weight aka speakers that are really just there to exploit the community you are working so hard to build.

Is this over-thinking it? You bet. It was a fun experiment, however.

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