The Call for Speakers is out for the IRM Business Analysis Conference Europe 2020 and with it comes the release of the theme and tracks for what is an annual highlight of the Business Analysis conference circuit in London.
Attracting business analysis, product and project professionals from prestigious organisations worldwide, #BA2020 promises a high-profile audience for any BA professional wanting to raise their profile, develop their network and establish themselves as a thought leader in the field.
The conference theme for 2020 is, rather excitingly, ‘VISIONaries’, with six snappily-titled tracks; ‘Toolkit’, ‘Roles’, ‘Careers’, ‘Interpersonal’, ‘Digital’ and ‘Data’. These tracks align nicely to some of the hottest topics that are currently being discussed in on and offline networking forums and professional social media platforms amongst the BA community.
Based on my experiences of the conference over the last couple of years, I’ve found it to be an incredible opportunity for developing business analysis skills, connecting with an eager and welcoming network of like-minded peers and for keeping updated on the latest thinking and practice in the field; an essential activity for a group of professionals who are at the forefront of change programmes at a time of unprecedented change and digital transformation.
Whilst attending the conference last year, I decided that the next step to gaining even more benefit from the conference would be to become a speaker and share my fifteen-plus years of BA experience with my fellow delegates. As such, ahead of the 28th February deadline, I will be carefully reviewing the speaker and submission guidelines to apply to bring my proposed session ‘The BA and the Digital Brain’ to London this year.
Fancy joining me? The full process, guidelines and advice can be found here, but the top advice from the organiser, IRM, is to:
- Be specific and concrete about what you will be presenting and how the audience will benefit from it. Use the bullet points to highlight the key ‘takeaway’ messages.
- Demonstrate real-world achievements, showing examples of business analysis work/experience if possible and describing relevant outcomes.
- Aim to engage and challenge the audience with fresh insights and ideas.
- Ensure that your presentation is really relevant to this conference and the particular track.
Taking a quick look at the Application Form, it’s quite a thorough one, as is expected for such a calibre of conference, which attracts so many applications each year. The application form requests details including a 150-word overview of your proposed session, links and references to any existing related materials you have, such as videos on YouTube, published books, blogs and a personal bio.
New to conference speaking? Well this may all sound rather daunting, particularly the request for existing materials. However the organisers emphasise that applicants do not need to be professional speakers. In addition, there is an option to state the audience skill level that your session is aimed at, from beginner through to expert.
Personally I often put off applying to speak at conferences because I don’t know if I have anything new to tell people and think that they probably know it all already. It’s not until I start discussing my ideas with colleagues that I realise that I do have something new and exciting to contribute – just because I’m very familiar with it, it doesn’t mean everyone else is! If you’re having these doubts, collar some work colleagues and give them an elevator pitch of your session idea and see how they react. Chances are they will be intrigued and encourage you to apply. This is great for getting a confidence boost and motivating you to get that application in, as well as helping you to focus your thoughts on what your talk is really about.
My second barrier is assuming that the people who are presenting are more experienced, more knowledgeable or more qualified than me and of course in some areas this will be absolutely true. But often I’ll be watching a great presentation, look at the speaker’s bio and LinkedIn profile and realise that we have a very similar background. With this, I have come to realise that I have my own set of skills, experiences, knowledge and qualifications to bring to the party and they are just as valid and the only difference between them and me is that they had the courage and motivation to get their submission in and do it!
So don’t let your own self-doubts hold you back. If you’ve got a story to tell, a technique to share or some great research findings to explore with an intelligent, curious and engaged audience, then #BA2020 is the place for you.