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Confessions of a BlogWorld Speaker Picker


My name is Deb Ng and I’m the Conference Director for BlogWorld this year. I’m totally digging my job, most especially because I get to meet and work with so many new and interesting people. Plenty of you ask me about my job with BlogWorld, what it’s like and what I look for in a proposal that I thought I’d tell you a little about what I do and the process is like.

Everybody Wants You

If you ever accept a gig to be a Conference Director for a social media or blogging conference, know that you’ll be the most popular person in the blogosphere for the months that the speaker submission form is open. Everyone will write to you to ask if you can (*wink**wink**nudge**nudge*) help them get a foot in the door and approve their proposal. You’ll also receive requests for guidance (which is fine) and some potential speakers who want you to write their proposals for them. I was actually surprised by how many people (who I never met before) Skype or write to me to ask me to give them something to propose or an idea for a topic. Here’s a hint: Without knowing who you are or what you’re good at, I couldn’t possibly suggest an idea. If you want help fleshing something out, come up with a few ideas based on your areas of expertise and I’ll help you shape it into anย  idea. Mind you, that doesn’t guarantee acceptance. Only that you will have the same chance as everyone else based on your idea.

Also, expect lots of emails and phone calls. LOTS of emails and phone calls. Most want to know when the deadline is for speaker submissions or if they can bypass the online application process and send you the proposal directly (the answer to that is no, by the way.) This isn’t a gripe, because I’m enjoying the gig, just letting you how I spend my day. I do try and answer everyone, though.

Winners and Almost Winners

As I write this I have about 40 proposals to go through. Please don’t cry for me, this is a very good thing. I didn’t receive one sucky proposal this year. I received a few that weren’t necessarily what we were looking for, but they all rock. As the cliche goes, “there are no losers.” Many of our potential speakers propose the same good ideas and it’s not easy having to pick one of many. It’s also not easy having to choose the best of the best. BlogWorld only has a certain amount of sessions available but we receive hundreds of proposals. They were slow coming in at first but the last week showed an absolute flood. So we have winners and we have almost winners but there are absolutely no clunkers in the bunch.

Team Effort

Even though it’s my job to go through and pick the panels and sessions, it’s a team effort. I’m new at this Conference Direction thing, and even though I have a good idea of what an attendee wants (having attended every single BlogWorld since its inception) I still like to run it all by Rick and Dave. They pretty much always agree with my choices, which makes me feel good and is kind of validating.

It’s interesting being on this side of the fence. I always enjoyed attending BlogWorld, but now I see their dedication to the attendees. Rick and Dave are committed to ensuring you get the biggest bang for your buck and walk away having learned as much as you possibly can about blogging and social media. They’re also looking to make sure you have fun as well.

How to Catch My Eye

So you have a month to get those BlogWorld speaker proposals in, the last day for submissions is July 1st. Since everyone is writing to ask, if you want to catch my eye, don’t pitch a talk on what you think everyone wants to hear. Pitch what you think you, as an attendee, would like to learn. Here’s a clue: Today’s hot topics are probably being proposed by more than one person, so think beyond the obvious. Don’t pitch a vague “how to make money blogging ” panel because that isn’t going to knock my socks off. Besides, you know the “make money blogging” gurus are going to be in attendance. You can be sure they’re going to talk about their specialties.

What’s your passion? What sets you apart from the rest? What can you talk about that will fill seats, but also goes beyond the usual session? That’s what I’m looking for. Stuff that isn’t the same old, same old. That isnt to say we’re not looking for useful “how to’s” and “101s” because we are.ย  Choose a topic that isn’t so narrow it won’t fill seats but is focused enough to not be all over the board.

If you think you have a good idea for a proposal but it needs some fleshing out, feel free to contact me at deb@blogworldexpo.com so we can discuss your best approach. I won’t guarantee you a spot, but I will help shape your area of expertise into a pitch worthy topic.

Oh and…

I get a lot of email. Sometimes I’m able to answer it right away, other times it can take a day or so. Please know I’m reading and responding to all email as best I can. You’re welcome to nudge me on Twitter @debng if you think I might have missed your note.

Deb Ng is the conference director at BlogWorld. You can also check out her community and social media blog Kommein. Feel feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.


  • Kathy Jacobs

    Here’s hoping that the job continues to be just what you want. Oh, and that you get more great proposals. (Torn on that part. Want to have lots of great content to see while there. BUT don’t want tooo much competition for the things I proposed.)

  • Nicole Simon

    Deb, congrats to the job and it is good to know that you are as passionate about this as everybody else involved! ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is probably is worth mentioning to pay attention to the changing audience of blogworld: last year there was already a huge rise in what I call normal people – based on my experience with customers this year, that group is going to be even bigger this year.

    Two suggestions from my side [I forgot to put them in earlier]
    I totally appreciate and understand the need for the proposal through a form, but it would be extremly helpful if somewhere there was a ‘here are all screens. As somebody wanting to propose it is annoying to go through all of this just to find out which kind of information I can / shall enter at which point meaning I probably have to fake it, at least do all the work and not submit it.

    Second, it would be good to know the names and the topics you already have picked – as many people in this field do the same work, it is most likely that we all come up with the same stuff. I do not need to propose a certain topic and make the effort of doing a whole proposal catered towards this when that kind of spot is already picked. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I would have a very specific question on this if you don’t mind getting back to me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Nicole Simon

    Quick note – the gravatar plugin seems to have a problem, it does not pull in mine nor kathy’s image.

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