Speaking Tips For BCN17

BarCamp Presents Speaker Tips

When it comes to conducting a session at BarCamp, there are a few rules and tips to keep in mind to make the experience all that it can be for both you and your audience. For those of you who have spoken before, these may just be refreshers ... but for those new to speaking at BarCamp Nashville, this guide is designed to answer a few of the common questions we get every year. Please read up on the basics, how to get ready for your session, and what to do afterwards. Make the most of your day and follow the advice below!


Prepare your session. 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 to 40. Audience participation is part of any session at BarCamp, so make sure to build time into your plan for questions and answers at the end, or possibly even during your presentation.

Be prepared to potentially speak first thing in the morning. Voting for the morning sessions is from 8 – 9:15 a.m., with the results published at 9:30 a.m. The first session begins at 9:45 a.m. Afternoon voting is from 12:00 – 1:10 p.m., with results published at 1:25 p.m. Afternoon sessions start at 1:40 p.m.

Promote your session. Just because you won’t know if or exactly when you’ll be presenting until the day of the event doesn't mean you shouldn't promote yourself. Your session should already have its own unique Twitter hashtag, and make sure you included it in your session proposal and start tweeting it to let people know what you are hoping to speak about and get them to “favorite” your session. Blog about your topic and let people know what they can expect, and attend the Friday Mixer to drum up more interest from prospective audience members. The BCN crew will do its best to get people to attend the event; it is your responsibility to get people to vote for (and attend!) your particular session.

Get your kit together. Don't wait until the morning of the event 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 if you left yours at home. If you don't bring it, you will have to beg or borrow one. (We frown upon dongle-stealing.) Also, make sure they are HDMI, not VGA or DVI. The projectors only accept HDMI connections.
  • 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 access to your slides.
  • While WiFi is offered for speakers, there is no guarantee you’ll have a steady connection for your session. Make sure you have a hotspot or some alternative.
  • Don't forget business cards! There is a lot of networking going on at BarCamp Nashville, so show up prepared to network. Make sure you have an ample supply of business cards to hand out.

Session Grid: Our production team will determine time slots and room assignments and will notify speakers as soon as the grid has been confirmed (9:30 a.m. & 1:25 p.m.). Check the website for time slots and room assignments as soon as the votes are tabulated.


Arrive Early. Because of the live voting format, you may be called upon to speak very quickly. Be sure to give yourself enough time to locate the venue, park, find the speakers’ butler, Nathan Martinez, pick up your nametag 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 session. Once they have wrapped, start making your way up to the front. The previous speaker should be disconnecting their gear as you start connecting yours. Be polite and courteous to the previous speaker as they will most likely have a few people talking to them while they are packing.

Be punctual. You have exactly 35 minutes; not 36 minutes ... 35 minutes. Locate your room monitor before you start your session and glance at them occasionally. They will give you warnings when you are near 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 another two minutes. Stop talking, thank your audience and gather up your gear.

Be courteous to the next speaker. Unless you are before lunch or the last session of the day, there is someone waiting to speak after you. 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.

Be courteous to your audience. If you are before lunch, you are between people and food. If you are the last session of the day, you are between people and the After Party. Don't be that guy / gal; finish up and go party!


Enjoy yourself. Attend other sessions. Your participation in BarCamp Nashville is not over because you finished your talk. Stick around and stay involved. This includes attending the After Party! Hang out and make yourself available to people who attended your session and have questions there wasn't enough time to answer during your timeslot, or to those who didn't get to attend but are still interested in your topic.


Either immediately after your session or as soon as you can, post your slides online so that people can download and review them. If you upload your slides to slideshare.net, make sure tag them BCN17. If you do not use slideshare.net, make sure you upload them somewhere. Once they are uploaded, tweet a link and your session hashtag so we can help spread the word.


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 2017 vote, attend other sessions, and stay for the After Party ... don't just speak and run!
Thanks for participating in BarCamp 2017, and we look forward to seeing you there!