What it Takes to Speak at Mind the Product
As the curator of the world’s two largest product conferences, I get approached all the time about getting on the #mtpcon stage. We only have so many speaking slots each year, and we review hundreds – if not thousands – of talks in the course of making our selection. In the interest of transparency, I thought it was time to give you some insight on what it takes to speak at Mind the Product.
No Pay to Play
This is rule number one. No one gets on our stage by paying for their slot. We have a Chinese wall between our commercial and content discussions and any attempt to link commercials with stage presence falls on deaf ears. We have walked away from sponsors more than once for making this request. Our regulars know that we sometimes feature speakers who happen to work for sponsors but they always get on stage on merit alone – and it would be foolish for us to discount some of the industry’s best thinkers and speakers because their firms care enough about product management to sponsor the conference.
Fundamentally, a Mind the Product conference is all about the speakers and their talks. This is the TED of product conferences after all! This means we have to know that they will not just have an interesting story or insight to share, but that they can comfortably deliver it to a really large audience in a keynote-style talk. One of our favourite speakers, Des Traynor, has a really good post on how to get started at conference speaking at this level.
No Fireside Chats or Panels
We don’t do fireside chats or panels at Mind the Product conferences. There are 1,500+ attendees at each conference, so an open Q&A doesn’t work at this scale and simply doesn’t deliver enough value or interest to the audience. In most cases fireside chats are simply an excuse for a busy speaker not to have to prepare anything new for the conference. We’ve walked away from some very famous names where this has been a requirement, because our audience comes first.
Our speaker line-up is a n-dimensional puzzle. It’s not just about getting big names on stage, it’s about ensuring a breadth of insight from different companies, industries, company sizes, geographies, and contexts. And yes, it’s also about showcasing as much of the amazing diversity in product management as possible too.
Finally, it’s important to remember that a Mind the Product conference attracts some of the most passionate product people in the world. Our audience already knows all the buzzwords, frameworks, and toolsets and is looking for context, inspiration and new stories. So if your speaking style only references your current product or forgets about the bigger picture, it’s not going to be a good fit.
How to get There
If you feel like all of the above applies to you and you want to get on stage then please do come and talk to me. Here are some things to bear in mind when pitching;
Pitch us directly
Approaching us through your PR team or agency isn’t impressive – it shows us you don’t value this opportunity enough to pursue it yourself. Just fill in this form.
Don’t email our safety address
More than one PR firm has emailed us on our safety@ email address which is reserved for emergencies and code of conduct breaches at our conferences. Needless to say this doesn’t put you in a good light, it’s not that hard to find me online. You can also apply here.
Have video of you speaking
As mentioned above we need to know that you can speak comfortably on a large stage in a keynote style. If we haven’t seen you speak in person we need to see you on video in a similar setting (even if it’s a smaller audience). Don’t have one? No problem:
Speak at a ProductTank
The best way to gain the experience needed to make it to the big stage is to start smaller with one of our 100+ local ProductTank meetups. And if you can make it to London, New York, San Francisco or any of the other locations that film their talks it shows us what you can do and gives you a speaker reel. Engaging with the ProductTank community also shows that you care about giving back to the community, and not just about the headline slots.
Every year so far one of our speakers has been plucked from relative obscurity and put on the Mind the Product stage thanks to a stellar performance at a ProductTank. This is something we’re very proud of. It’s a commitment to the community that we’ll feature not just the usual professional speakers, but fresh voices from the community itself too.
See you at the next Mind the Product Conference – I’ll be the one off to the side of the stage having my mind blown by the speakers.