Rejecting Speakers

Joe • September 14, 2017

conferences speaking

If you follow me on Twitter you have probably noticed I'm the main organizer for TechCamp Memphis 2017. By main organizer I mean: I have a handful of badasses that I get to hand out task assignments to and they get shit done. We held our CFP using and that was a pleasant experience overall. I did miss some features of OpenCFP and I do feel like I betrayed my PHP roots a little.

Today we sent out speaker rejections. It sucks. I hate it. But like every other conference that holds a CFP we owe it to everyone that submitted to let them know we're not able to take their submission. We had 49 submissions for 14 slots. I would have liked more submissions but we did better than previous years (where I've been involved with the CFP process). We struggled with our CFP but that's another post.

I've learned a lot from Chris Hartjes, Heather & Eli White, Adam Culp, and others about running events and I try to learn from them as much as I can. One thing I've seen first hand is the empathetic approach to speaker rejections. Chris has spoken about this at length on Twitter. I mention Chris, Heather, Eli, and Adam by name because those are the speaker rejections that I've respected the most. They're telling you they didn't pick your talk, but it's *how* they tell you. The words they use and the encouragement is what sets them a part from all the other conferences I've been rejected from.

I wanted to share with you the rejection email we sent our speakers. I want to share it here so that it may encourage others in the same way similar messages have encouraged me to be more empathetic and encouraging. I blatantly stole a line or three from some of the people above. I give them full credit.

If you're getting this email, it's because your talk submission(s) to TechCamp 2017 were not selected.

This is the worst kind of email to get. I know first hand because I've been on the receiving end of them a few hundred times.

Don't stay discouraged for very long. Keep submitting — the worst thing that happens is they say no. The best thing that happens is that they say yes.

Because you took the effort to submit we would love to have you attend the event at a discount, our way of saying "thanks for helping make the community better".

You can use code NotARealDiscount to purchase a ticket with a discount:

Thanks for your time, hope to see you at TechCamp 2017.

Joe Ferguson & the entire TechCamp 2017 Organization Team.

Thanks for reading. Keep submitting to conferences. Don't stay discouraged for long.