February 12, 2020

Keeping a Speaker Profile

an illustrated rabbit in profile

The other day, I put together a speaker profile. It looks like this and contains a bunch of stuff:

  • My name, duh
  • My preferred pronouns, because it’s important
  • My contact info
  • Short and long profiles
  • A roundup of notable talks and publications
  • Some choice pictures for folks to download
  • And some nice things people have said about me

It may all seem like a vanity exercise, but I’ve found that a speaker profile serves a few purposes beyond stroking my own ego (although there is that, too).

First, I speak at a lot of conferences and routinely need to provide things like headshots and bios for websites and agendas. It’s a pain in the ass to write those things from scratch every time and hunt down headshots from old conferences. A speaker profile gives me one place to point organizers when they need something from me. It saves both of us a lot of time and allows them to grab what they need without having to bug me.

Second, a speaker profile allows people to vet me pretty quickly. If someone is trying to figure out whether or not they want me at their conference, on their webinar, or contributing to their blog, this is the quickest way for them to get a feel for what I’ve worked on. Providing a list of talk and article topics gives them something to quickly scan. Less back-and-forth on both of our parts and when a request does make it to me, it’s usually something I’m actually interested in since it aligns with my history and interests.

Third, it’s a great reminder of what I’ve accomplished. It’s easy to get burned out when you’re heads down on prepping for the next conference or workshop (not to mention organizing our own conference), and adding a talk to that page provides a kick in the pants in the form of inspiration. Although it’s not an exhaustive list of talks and publications, it’s cool to see a lot of the stuff I’ve done over the years collected in one document. Sure, there’s LinkedIn but who the fuck wants to troll that for inspiration?

Finally, it absolutely provides that ego boost. Yeah, yeah… I said it’s not just about vanity, but imposter syndrome is real for most people, including me. When I’m getting anxious about an upcoming gig or just don’t feel like I know what the hell I’m talking about, that doc is a great reminder that—although I make plenty of mistakes and get it all wrong sometimes—more often than not I know what I’m doing and people have faith in me.

I’ve created my speaker profile a few times: As a Notion page, a page on this very website, and a Google Doc. Right now, my about page links out to the Google Doc and I’ll probably keep it that way for the time being. Notion is an interesting tool, but I don’t think I can make it stick long term. And, while I like owning my data whenever possible and keeping things on my site, I like being able to quickly update my speaker profile in Google Docs as opposed to opening up the code in my website, making changes, and pushing a new commit.

I also know that there are tools out there to collect talks, like Speaker Deck, Notist, and SlideShare, but I don’t have faith in any of three to be around long term and I really like the simplicity of a simple doc as opposed to a full profile page with all the fancy graphics.

Use whatever tools you’d like, though, and put together your own speaker profile page. It will save you time, improve communication with organizers, and might just give you the boost you need when you’re feeling down.

Have one already? Send it my way, I’d love to see it.

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