Conferences have become an important part of everyone involved in a technical job, especially online. Conferences are no longer simple meetings for some quick chat about the industry and a round or two of drinks. Conferences have become essential training events and sources of up-to-date information for web professionals from companies, speakers and their fellow colleagues. Tech conferences are all about tangible, actionable insights that you can apply to your work right away.
Participation at workshops and practical discussions with experts from the field of your interest is what have upscaled these conferences to a whole new level. Conferences are all about getting specific knowledge you probably won’t get from your usual tutorial or course sights, because the personal touch to the subject each speaker adds is the key to great knowledge.
Tech & Design Conferences you could attend in 2014-2015
Smashing Conference 2015 which will take place in LA will be another conference with the Smashing stamp on it: technical, fun, in style, and a little bit pricey, the early-bird tickets available now are set at $549. There are already 9 announced speakers for the LA conference, but watch out for other cities later next year.
Velocity calls itself an essential training event, rather than a conference, and they are not wrong about it. Announced conferences on 3 continents and 4 cities provide you with a little bit of flexibility.
ICON is one of the largest gatherings of small business owners in the world—over 4,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs come together to learn, share and grow. It has a focus on smaller businesses and aims on them mostly. With only one location available, the early ticket pricing starts at $399.
South by Southwest is known for its great conferences it has held over the last 2 decades, which is probably the first company to start organizing tech conferences. It has now become a brand on its own, gathering a lot of field experts in one place to share their expertise with attendants. The tickets are priced just above the $1,000 mark but you can get them cheaper if you focus on a specific category of sessions & workshops.
Valiocon has been known for organizing conferences since 2009, but we should admit that especially their last years’ conferences were really exceptional. Always a great location with a friendly community of web professionals and speakers with expertise sounds like a fun event to attend, and it indeed is one of those! There are no dates set for the 2015 conference yet, but watch out because they will most likely be announced soon.
Choose between hundreds of cities and attend the most popular technical conference in world, all dedicated to WordPress. Get to meet developers and designers, freelancers, companies and simple users at a conference of a such big resonance. Attend the WordCamp LA or Paris if you would like to meet famous faces of the community or join your local or nearby WordCamp and manage the fun part yourself. With such flexibility of cities and dates and prices, choose what suits you best.
TEDx conferences are different than from all others in this list. It rarely involves a workshop or different sessions on technical topics, it being more of a general kind of conference, but they are not meant to provide with exact technical knowledge which would help you build applications or design sites, rather than make you think differently and implement ideas you might have had in a different way.
How to be a great attendee
Conferences are no longer made up of speakings alone, therefore the level of knowledge you might end up with is way more diversified, practical and up-to-date. Workshops, meetings, presentations and the overall environment which consists of people in your field who have skills of different ranges can only benefit you. It is certain that the main reason why you would like to be present at any it conference is to either take or offer a valuable contribution which can be of different forms (present your innovative idea, report on your last year’s business plan etc) but we surely shouldn’t ignore the fact that there are other benefits to advantage.
Conferences are all about interaction, and that does not resume only to you and the speaker, therefore there is a huge pool of people who may share the same interests, given the fact that the conference attendees are highly targeted to fit at least one common interest with you. Those possible acquaintances can easily become your friends, project partners, employees or employers solely because of your mutual interests. Never miss on a possibility to make new contacts and get your name out there because nobody has ever been harmed by having more recognition amongst their peers.
If you position yourself as a field expert, who can engage in productive talks or can show off your skills at often held workshops or contests, then possible opportunities might come along. It is a known fact that various companies at the top of the industry like to sponsor events and conferences, especially those who have a high engagement. Experts with a broad list of mastered skills in the tech and design fields are always in high demand and such events can only help grow your client base or possible job offerings.
Tips for a great presentation as a speaker:
Make it short but informative
The key of every successful presentation is having the most important of it resumed to a short, informative and captivating experience for everyone involved. A lot of pre-story or details should be cut or just barely mentioned and pay more attention to the pinpoints and highlights.
Expand your idea
Unless you are at some sort of a “keynote presentation” where you are the only speaker and it’s all about yourself, your product or idea, you have got to keep your story short and quick. We have already decided on the necessity of an informative speech but given the time limit you face, sometimes you have to use sacrifices and give up on some aspects of your topic. This is the main reason why you would like to have an extended version of your idea because of the possible interest that your speech might arouse. Be that a personal blog or just an extended presentation that is broadly covering the topic is up to you, but unless the few minutes you are given for a presentation are enough for you (which should definitely not be the case, you only want to talk about the topics of your expertise) then letting people know where they could find more is the right way to go.
Have the right presentation
It is a common practice for using presentations during public speakings for a better interpretation of the presented topic. Specific types of conferences such as TEDx most likely will not make use of presentations but instead will provide practical examples in creative ways for a better perception, but when it comes to tech conferences it is pretty hard to provide such examples, because most of the times the topics of presentations will be related to coding, design, or other types of domains which make it hard to provide practical examples, thus the need of a professional, clear, short but informative presentation that would make it easier to outline the main ideas.
Leave a mark
You want to stand out of the crowd, and if you’re there to make your name known and memorable, open doors for new connections and opportunities, then leaving a mark on everybody is what you are looking for. You have got to be the individual that will become a symbol of your field. This is not easy to do and there’s not a checklist to be followed in order to achieve it, because every group, topic or idea has different ways of approach and it would foolish of us to admin that there’s the right way of doing it. It has got to be natural and you don’t need to put an excess amount of effort into presenting yourself in a better light, instead use that time to become better at what you’re doing because in the end, being genuine and open is all that matters.
Theme Developers & WordCamp speaking
At the beginning of 2013 an important issue aroused and it was targeted at theme sellers who wanted to speak at WordCamp conferences. It was first reported by Jake Caputo who said that he was banned from speaking at any WordCamp conference as long as he kept selling his themes with the split license, the only license available on ThemeForest at that time. Shortly after ThemeForest (a great player in the theme business) has rolled the GPL license availability for those authors who wished to adopt that license for their items and this has not been an issue so far. This should not concern you as long as you are not interested in any WordCamp conference (speaking-wise).
No matter the reasoning behind your conference attendance, keep in mind that you should have fun and make the learning experience very positive while up keeping a professional tone and status.