October 15th will be here before you know it. For those of you new to speaking at BarCamp Nashville, this guide is designed to answer a few of the common questions we get every year. Some of these are specific to speakers, others are more general in nature, just to help you make the most of the big day.
Prepare your talk
You've got 35 minutes to fill so make sure you have the material to fill it. On the other hand, you've only got 35 minutes so don't go 40. Audience participation is part of any talk at BarCamp. Make sure that you leave an appropriate amount of time for questions and answers.
Promote your talk
If you haven't started already, start promoting your talk. Your talk should have its own unique twitter hashtag. Start tweeting it, letting people know what you are talking about. Start blogging about your topic and letting people know what they can expect. The BCN crew will do its best to get people to attend the event, it is your responsibility to get people to attend your particular session.
Get your kit together
Don't wait until the morning of to get your kit together. Make sure you have your laptop ready to go. MAC USERS, BRING YOUR OWN DONGLE! There will not be a stash of dongles available because you left yours. If you don't bring it, you have to beg or borrow one. (We frown on stealing dongles) Also, make sure they are VGA, not DVI. The projectors are VGA only, so you need to be prepared.
It is a good idea to put your slides on a thumb drive in both native format as well as PDF. If something happens to your laptop, we may be able to help you find another one but you will need your slides backed up where you can get to them.
Don't forget business cards! There is a lot of networking going on at BarCamp Nashville, show up prepared to network. Make sure you have an ample supply of business cards to hand out. There is still time to get some printed if you are low.
On the day of BarCamp
If you are not planning on attending the entire camp, arrive at least 30-45 minutes before your session. This gives you time to find parking, locate the venue, find me, check in and make sure everything is going as planned.
Be in your room before the previous speaker ends
Slip into the back quietly and wait patiently as the speaker before you finishes their talk. Once they have wrapped, start making your way up to the front. The previous speaker should be disconnecting their gear as you are arrive and you can start connecting yours. Be polite and courteous to the previous speaker as they will most likely have a few people talking to them as they tear down.
You have exactly 35 minutes - not 36 minutes - 35 minutes. Locate your room monitor before you start your talk. glance at them occasionally. They will give you warnings when you are near to the end of your time and will tell you when your time is up. If you get the "Time is up" message, do not wrap things up for 2 minutes. Stop talking, thank your audience and strike your gear. Unless you are before lunch or the last session of the day, there is someone waiting to talk after you. If you are before lunch, you are between people and food, be courteous to your audience. If you are the last session of the day, you are between people and the after party, don't be that guy; finish up and go party.
Be courteous to the next speaker.
There are exactly 10 minutes between sessions and a lot has to happen in that time. As soon as your thunderous applause dies down, start unplugging and getting out of the way of the next person. There will always be people who want to ask you questions. Talk while you pack, and as soon as you can, ask everyone with questions to follow you out into the hall and you'll be happy to answer them.
Enjoy yourself. Attend other sessions. Camp out at one of the Topic tables and start a discussion. Your participation in BarCamp Nashville is not over because you finished your talk. Stick around and stay involved. This includes attending the after party. Stick around, make yourself available to people who attended your session and have questions or didn't get to attend and still have questions.
Either immediately after your session, or as soon as you can, post your slides online so that people can download and review them. We will have a BCN11 event setup on SlideShare.net. If you upload your slides to slideshare.net, make sure you attach your slides to it and tag them BCN11. If you do not use slideshare.net, make sure you upload them somewhere. Once they are uploaded, tweet it so we can help spread the word.
Final words of advice
BarCamps are a great place to learn to speak, polish your skills as a speaker, or try out new material; more importantly though, BarCamps are about participation, not just about speaking. So make sure that you show up and be a part of BarCamp Nashville '11, don't just speak.