Paying it forward at Global Diversity CFP Day

Have you always wanted to become a tech conference speaker?
Let 2018 be the year that you make that dream a reality!
Save the date – Saturday 3rd February 2018

A CFP is a “Call for Papers” or “Call for Proposals” – many technical and academic conferences discover and vet speakers and their talk topics through an open, deadline-driven, online proposal submission process. This CFP process provides a chance for anyone to pitch a talk and pitch themselves as the presenter. Submitting a CFP, and having your proposal accepted, is one great way to get a foot in the door if you’re just getting started as a new speaker. And, for some developers, public speaking can be the door to many types of opportunity.

Coming Up: February 3, 2018

Global Diversity CFP Day takes place on Saturday, February 3, 2018. It’s a decentralized, locally organized free event — a safe space for people to get started as technical conference speakers. The workshop is designed to help you craft and submit a talk proposal to an event with an open CFP and a stated Code of Conduct.

Especially designed for people who are typically under-represented at tech events, free workshops will take place on the same day at dozens of locations all over the planet, facilitated by volunteers and former newbie conference speakers. In many locales, it’s not too late to get involved – as a facilitator, mentor or participant. Free tickets are available now and more workshops are still coming online.

Organizers and participants share a commitment to encourage and advise “newbie speakers” and “1) provide a warm, inclusive welcome in a safe space, 2) mentor your proposal, 3) provide speaking advice, and 4) share our enthusiasm to get you to the stage.” Participants can expect to leave the workshop with a talk proposal that’s ready to submit.

This project is the brainchild of Peter Aitken, a Scottish developer who also looks after ScotlandJS and ScotlandCSS. Initially they created a version of this workshop to bring new speakers into the roster for the Scottland conferences. The workshop was so effective in activating new speakers, and so well-received by participants, that they were inspired to go global.

Mozilla Tech Speakers @ Global Diversity CFP Day

Inspiration can be contagious. I’ll be lending a hand at the Brussels workshop, alongside @slsoftworks, who first told me about this event some months ago.

My reaction then, as now: How could we, the wildly distributed, loosely-connected cadre of Mozilla Tech Speakers not participate!? How could we not share what we’ve learned, individually and collectively, and pay it forward!?

I’ve spent the last 3 years working with new speakers from around the world as they gain skill and experience presenting to developers and designers about Firefox, Mozilla and technologies of the open web. I gave my first and to date only conference talk back in July, it was about Mozilla Tech Speakers. Tech Speakers in many countries will be participating in Global Diversity CFP Day, sharing what they’ve learned and supporting others in a safe, inclusive space, from Asia and Europe to Africa and the Americas.

Wherever you are in your career, sharing what you know is a great way to validate and sharpen skills. Giving a tech talk extends knowledge and connects you with other developers and opportunities. Helping newbies do the same keeps events vibrant and interesting.


There are many great resources out there for getting started in tech speaking, submitting to conferences, preparing your first presentation, and preparing for the day of the talk. Peter and a team of organizers have put together a terrific collection of video content to form the workshop curriculum — and that’s just for starters. Workshop organizers will customize locally, while adhering globally to shared values and Code of Conduct.

Here are a few speaking resources that we’ve found useful and that will be presented as curriculum or in excerpt at the upcoming workshops:



  • CFP Advice: A repository of resources about public speaking, specifically in the context of software development and IT conferences maintained by vmbrasseur.
  • The Eloquent Woman: “Inspiration, ideas and information to help women build public speaking content, confidence and credibility.” From Denise Graveline.
  • @mozTechCFPs: A bot that tweets timely reminders of tech conference call for proposals deadlines. Curated by Mozilla DevRel & the @mozTechSpeakers, also available here: 💖.

If you have favorite talks and resources for public speakers, please do add them in comments.