A Guide for Speakers

For those of you new to speaking at BarCamp Nashville, this guide is designed to answer a few of the common questions we get every year. Some of these are specific to speakers, others are more general in nature - just to help you make the most of the big day.


Prepare your session: You've got 35 minutes to fill so make sure you have the material to fill it. On the other hand, you've only got 35 minutes so don't go 40. Audience participation is part of any session at BarCamp. Make sure that you leave an appropriate amount of time for questions and answers.

Be prepared to speak, possibly, right away. Voting for the morning sessions is from 8 – 9:15 a.m. with the results published at 9:35 a.m. and the first session beginning at 9:45 a.m. Afternoon voting is from 12:10 – 1:30 p.m., results published at 1:45 p.m. and sessions starting at 2 p.m.

Promote your session: A little tricky this year as you won’t know if or when you’ll be presenting until the day of the event, but you can still promote yourself. Your session should already have its own unique Twitter hashtag. Start tweeting it, letting people know what you are hoping to speak about and get them to “favorite” your session. Start blogging about your topic and letting people know what they can expect. The BCN crew will do its best to get people to attend the event; it is your responsibility to get people to vote for (and attend!) your particular session.

Get your kit together: Don't wait until the morning of the event to get your kit together.

  • Make sure you have your laptop ready to go. MAC USERS, BRING YOUR OWN DONGLE! There will not be a stash of dongles available because you left yours at home. If you don't bring it, you have to beg or borrow one. (We frown upon stealing dongles.) Also, make sure they are VGA, not DVI. The projectors are VGA only.
  • It is a good idea to put your slides on a thumb drive in both native format as well as PDF. If something happens to your laptop, we may be able to help you find another one but you will need access to your slides.
  • While WiFi is offered for speakers, there is no guarantee you’ll have a steady connection for your session. Make sure you have a hotspot or some alternative.
  • Don't forget business cards! There is a lot of networking going on at BarCamp Nashville. Show up prepared to network. Make sure you have an ample supply of business cards to hand out.

Session Grid: With the new process of voting for session’s day of, our production team will be working on time slots and room assignments for all of the sessions and will notify speakers as soon as the grid has been confirmed (9:35 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.). There will be digital FireSigns at the venue displaying time slots and room assignments as soon as the votes are tabulated.

Panel Setup: Panels will be in Room I (Backstage). They will be set up with three wired mics, a table, three chairs, a projector and a screen.


Arrive Early: Because of the new format, you may be called upon to speak very quickly. Be sure to give yourself enough time to locate the venue, park, find Melanie Friebel, our speakers’ butler, pick up your nametag and make sure everything is going as planned.

Be in your room before the previous speaker ends: Slip into the back quietly and wait patiently as the speaker before you finishes their session. Once they have wrapped, start making your way up to the front. The previous speaker should be disconnecting their gear as you start connecting yours. Be polite and courteous to the previous speaker as they will most likely have a few people talking to them while they are packing.

Be punctual: You have exactly 35 minutes - not 36 minutes - 35 minutes. Locate your room monitor before you start your session and glance at them occasionally. They will give you warnings when you are near the end of your time and will tell you when your time is up. If you get the "Time is up" message, do not wrap things up for 2 minutes. Stop talking, thank your audience and strike your gear. Unless you are before lunch or the last session of the day, there is someone waiting to speak after you. If you are before lunch, you are between people and food; be courteous to your audience. If you are the last session of the day, you are between people and the after party. Don't be that guy/gal; finish up and go party.

Be courteous to the next speaker: There are exactly 10 minutes between sessions and a lot has to happen in that time. As soon as your thunderous applause dies down, start unplugging and getting out of the way of the next person. There will always be people who want to ask you questions. Talk while you pack, and as soon as you can, ask everyone with questions to follow you out into the hall and you'll be happy to answer them.


Enjoy yourself. Attend other sessions. Your participation in BarCamp Nashville is not over because you finished your talk. Stick around and stay involved. This includes attending the after party. Stick around, make yourself available to people who attended your session and have questions or didn't get to attend and still have questions.


Either immediately after your session or as soon as you can, post your slides online so that people can download and review them. If you upload your slides to slideshare.net, make sure you attach your slides to it and tag them BCN13. If you do not use slideshare.net, make sure you upload them somewhere. Once they are uploaded, tweet it so we can help spread the word.


BarCamps are a great place to learn to speak, polish your skills as a speaker, or try out new material; more importantly though, BarCamps are about participation, not just about speaking. So make sure that you show up and be a part of BarCamp Nashville 2013, don't just speak.


- Special thanks to our current speakers’ butler, Melanie Friebel, as well as past butlers Abby Whisenant and Cal Evans for compiling this guide.