You have an idea what to speak about, but do not know where to go? Conferences usually announce that they are searching for speakers in Calls For Proposals (CFPs, also known as Calls for Participation). To fill up a CFP form for a technical conference you will usually need a short description of your talk, or abstract. One paragraph will be usually enough, with 200 to 500 words.
We will now look into where you can find your speaking opportunities.
1. They may be just near you, during locally organized events. If the event is recurring you can visit one, check the scope of presentations and their style, and then propose your talk for one of the future events. There are multiple ways you can find such events:
- Meetup https://www.meetup.com/ is a site for finding events you want to go to, but it’s also extremely useful to locate local events you want to speak on. Tech events are highly represented, especially recurring ones. On the site you can choose the topics that interest you and you’ll be getting a list of ones that may be a good match. Go to the event, find out if it is the right one for your speech. Then either talk with the organizers directly or send them a message after. On Meetup you can search for categories of events and you receive notifications for each week. You can join (follow) a recurring event and add to your calendar.
- Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/ is similar, shows events that are free to attend or require a fee. The events present are in my experience different than on Meetup. You can register and pay for the event directly.
- User groups in your area do organize their own meetings. They may be on Meetup or Eventbrite too. This is a good choice if the user group that matches your speech type exists in the area. For example, if you want to speak about a framework in Python, Python User Group in your city will be an interesting choice. Check for groups related to programming languages, Linux etc.
- Quite surprisingly, local newspapers can be an additional source of event links, especially for less technology-related subjects. If you want to talk about a type of technology usage (in education or in charity), newspapers may may be worth tracking.
2. Conference organizers may have multiple conferences on one subject listed in one place. It might be the same on the websites of bigger Open Source projects. If you know your subject (like Docker), you can easily check all related events on such site. Quite often it also includes the planned one, even for up to a year. This allows planning well in advance. The typical disadvantage of this source of CFPs is that there’s no easy way to add to your calendar when the CFP starts and when the proposal needs to be ready. Some examples:
- Linux Foundation hosts many Linux-related events around the globe: https://events.linuxfoundation.org/
- Conferences organized by O’Reilly: https://www.oreilly.com/conferences/
- Python site has a list of events related to the language: https://www.python.org/community/workshops/
- Docker official conferences, meetups and webinars list: https://events.docker.com/
3. CFPs for technical conferences are announced by social media too. Tracking the official Twitter or Facebook account may be a good way to learn about upcoming events.
4. There exist sites that aggregate CFPs from multiple sources. They work especially well for academic events, but you can find technical ones too. Certain publishers offer similar lists too. Examples:
- LWN Calendar is a great source of CFPs if you’re interested in Linux, but also related topics like programming. It includes all mayor events. How to find it: https://lwn.net/Calendar/
- Allconferences.com http://www.allconferences.com/ list conferences and trade shows, you can can browse by location. Mostly academic events. The disadvantage it that it includes also past ones.
- Conferize is an event organization platform and includes a catalog available at: https://www.conferize.com/search/events?order=popularity&page=1&range=0
4. If there is no event on the subject you’re interested in in your area, why not create your own event? Small meetup doesn’t require much work, but allows to gather the community and you can have impact on the program.
To sum up, there is a very high chance that there is the right conference for the technical topic that you have ready: either during the events just near you or official ones of the project of technology you use. Usually you only need an abstract, not the whole presentation when you submit so that you can find events for your work-in-progress.