Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speaking at a Virtual Conference #VirtaThon

I was putting together abstracts for Oracle Open World #oow11 this year and remembered something someone had asked me earlier - to present at a conference like this, how does one overcome the fear of delivering a session? In fact, it is a question asked of me several times.

This is not a trivial issue; it's a real problem. There are many folks who are otherwise excellent sources of knowledge, in fact fountains of practical ideas; but when asked to speak in front of a live audience, they would rather kiss a frog than step in from of the podium. The mortal fear of public speaking is one of the many challenges to get good speakers for conferences.

The second challenge is cost. Conferences are conducted at some physical place. Unless you live in that city, or within commutable distance, you have to travel there. Add to the plane fare, cost of hotel, food, rental car, and all that extra expenses the emotional turmoil of being away from the family, especially those folks with small children who would miss one of their parents a is not something you can just brush aside. Even if you are  not a parent, you may be a caregiver to a loved one and your absence will be hard on the cared one.

Finally, the change is not something most people like. You may be comfortable with your present surroundings, among familiar people you work with every day. Traveling to a new city and spending time with strangers may be exciting or daunting based on how you look at it. Perhaps you work from home everyday in your PJs. Getting the wrinkles off the pants to go to the conferences may be a lot. At least to some people.

The answer to all this may be a trend I see developing now - web based conferences. You can attend them in your PJs and speak at them in your PJs as well; no iron needed. One such conference is #VirtaThon ( where several speakers, most of them widely known in the Oracle user community are speaking. Being a virtual conference, you don't have to travel anywhere to attend the sessions; you attend from the privacy and comfort of your own home or office. Remember, they are *not* webcasts; they are virtual conference sessions. So you actually participate in the sessions as you would do in a normal conference - ask questions, interact via chat and have follow ups after talks. If you are a speaker, there is nothing better - you don't have to travel to the venue. You need a computer with an internet connection. If you are uncomfortable speaking to a very live audience, it should be much easier speaking to virtual audience.No traveling, no TSA checks and no red eye flights.

Just to pique your interest, here is just a sampling of the speakers (in no particular order)

  • Dan Hotka
  • Bert Scalzo
  • Riyaj Shamsudeen
  • Syed Jaffer Hussain
  • Steven Fuerurestein
  • Jeremy Schneider
  • Guy Harrison 
  • Brian Huff
  • Lewis Cunningham
  • Mike Ault

And many more. Oh, I am speaking as well.

Interested? Submit an abstract at as soon as possible. The deadline is approaching fast.

Oh, yeas, a little detail. You will not be speaking for free; you will earn money for your efforts. So, what's stopping you?

1 comment:

Uwe K├╝chler said...

let me add a fourth challenge to the list: Topics.
Have you ever wondered if the topic you'd like to speak/lecture/write about is of enough interest to your audience? And what will be your target audience be like, anyway? Particularly at a virtual conference where you connect to people only electronically, it seems almost impossible to me to receive any feedback of interest while presenting.
So, haven't you ever doubted if the topic of your choice is going to be the topic of the listener's choice? Or if the subject will be enough "bleeding edge" to satisfy the curiosity of your audience? Or not too specific? Well, I had those doubts every now and then - just to curse myself when someone else published or lectured on a topic that I found "too basic" or too whatever...