A Business of Software Conference 'speaker algorithm'

I am genuinely humbled by the number of incredible, extraordinary people who agree to share their stories and life lessons at the Business of Software Conference over the years. I know how much effort, thought and energy goes into each and every one of those talks and I can’t think of one that I didn’t take something very meaningful from. It is tempting to bring back all of the speakers from previous years – and indeed we are often implored to do so by some of our regular attendees – but we also want to be able to give other people a chance to share their knowledge.

We want to be a place where exceptional people share exceptional lessons about running software businesses. We want to be able to break new speakers with new perspectives and we go to considerable lengths over the course of the year to find and curate great content. We want to optimise on quality across a number of topics so while we could fill 12 slots with brilliant people talking about software marketing, that obviously wouldn’t provide enough time to cover all the other things we want to discuss.

The hardest thing we do every year is say, ‘No, not this time’, to brilliant people. (This is slightly countered by how easy it is to say, ‘No, please don’t contact us again’ to some of the more random speaker agents out there!).

We tried to put some rules in place to help guide our thoughts and we came up with these. (And yes, rules are there to be broken, I am an entrepreneur after all).

  1. We want half of the speakers to have not spoken at Business of Software Conference previously.
  2. We will limit speakers, unless extraordinary things happen (and they do), to speaking at two consecutive conferences though we want to explore other ways of keeping great people involved.
  3. We don’t want ‘sea gull speakers’. One of the best things about BoS is the speakers typically stick around to hang out. We don’t want that to change. One speaker who we really want to get to speak this year agreed though then said they would not be able to make it until the last day. They then suggested that they speak next year as they wanted to take part in the whole event. This made us think they were very cool, and also made us think about how we can help speakers and our attendees get more from the whole experience. More on that later.
  4. What should rule 4 be?
  5. We will almost certainly change the ‘rules’ as we go along.

We would be interested in your thoughts – either in the comments, or by email.

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