What it Takes to Speak at Mind the Product "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs May 05 2021 True #mtpcon, presentation skills, ProductTank, Public Speaking, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 1131 Product Management 4.524

What it Takes to Speak at Mind the Product

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As the curator of 4 in-person product conferences and a number of digital product conferences, my team and I are approached all the time with the same question” ‘how do I get on the #mtpcon stage?’.

Of course, we only have so many #mtpcon speaking slots each year, and we review hundreds  — if not thousands  — of talks in the course of making our selections. In the interest of transparency, I want to give you some insight on what it takes to speak at a Mind the Product and let you know that there are other speaker slots to be had too! 

Read on to discover:

How to speak at a Mind the Product conference

There is one very important rule — no pay to play. No one gets on the #mtpcon 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’ve even walked away from sponsors 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. 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.

Exceptional speakers

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, and Product leadership coach, Petra Wille, also shares some valuable advice on getting ready for a bigger stage. For even more advice and insights, check out our Public Speaking content.

Kate Leto speaking at Mind the Product London 2019
Kate Leto speaking at #mtpcon London in 2019

No fireside chats or panels

At Mind the Product’s in-person conferences, we don’t do fireside chats or panels. There are more than 1,500 attendees at each conference, so an open Q&A doesn’t work at this scale or deliver enough value or interest to the audience.

At our digital conferences, however, we do feature fireside chats, and Mind the Product members enjoy regular panel discussions as part of their membership. We’ve found that these formats work well in a digital setting and are a great way for members to put their questions and thoughts to leading product experts.

Diversity

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.

Provide context

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. If your speaking style only references your current product or forgets the bigger picture, it’s unlikely to be a good fit.

Quick tips

Want to speak for us? Here are some simple dos and don’ts:

Don’t have your PR team email us

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.

Don’t email our safety address

Our safety@ email address is reserved for emergencies and code of conduct breaches at our conferences. Speaker inquiries sent to this address won’t be considered.

Do share a video of you speaking

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…

Do speak at a ProductTank

The best way to gain experience for the big stage is to start smaller with one of our 200+ local ProductTank meetups. This is also a great way to give back to the community.

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.

How to apply to speak for Mind the Product

If all of the information above has you feeling inspired, use our quick and easy form to apply to speak at #mtpcon. If your application is successful, a member of our curation team will get in touch.

Explore other speaking opportunities

Speaking on the #mtpcon stage isn’t the only way to share your ideas with the community. We are always on the lookout for ProductTank speakers and podcasts guests.

Speak at a ProductTank

As mentioned above, speaking at a ProductTank is a great way to gain stage experience (and get on our radar!). ProductTanks feature local and global speakers with varying levels of experience. Our organisers are always looking for new and exciting product people to speak at digital ProductTank events. Join our ProductTank speaker directory so that organisers can find you for future events. 

Marty Cagan speaking at ProductTank London
Marty Cagan speaking at ProductTank London

Be a guest on our podcast, The Product Experience

Every week our hosts Lily and Randy chat to people in the know and cover the topics that matter to you. They cover solving real problems, developing awesome products, building successful teams, and developing careers. We’re always on the hunt for exciting new guests. If you know the perfect podcast guest (maybe you’re it!) you can make a suggestion here.

Speak at a member event

Mind the Product members benefit from regular AMAs, panels and fireside chats. If you think you’d make a great guest for one of these exclusive sessions, let us know! In the #mtpcon application form you can let us know if you’d be interested in speaking at one of these events — apply now.

See you at the next Mind the Product Conference — I’ll be the one having my mind blown by the speakers!