Giveaway: Win a Free Ticket to Blend Conference!

Ladies in Tech is giving away a ticket to Blend Conference in Charlotte, NC taking place Sep 5-7, 2013! Thanks to Yesenia Perez-Cruz who is presenting at the conference and super awesomely providing the ticket for giveaway!

We are also super pumped to have a Q&A with Bermon Painter, the brain behind Blend Conference. Bermon shared with us some insights to putting together a gender-diverse conference lineup as well as some tips for aspiring speakers! Check out the great advice and then read on below to find out how to win the ticket and also to learn about a special discount for Ladies in Tech readers!

A Q&A with Bermon Painter, organizer of Blend Conference

Q: Tell us about Blend Conference!

Blend Conference is a 3-day generalist conference in glorious Charlotte, NC. Each day will have 3 tracks covering user experience design, visual design, and development. We also aren’t allowing devices (phone, tablets, or computers) in the speaker sessions. I’ve had some interesting emails about this, but overall I think it will be helpful for folks to disconnect for a few days, listen & discover new things in the sessions. Overall I want folks to have face-to-face conversations with people and make new friendships.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about how you crafted the speaker lineup? You have a very gender diverse speaker lineup! Was that intentional or just coincidentally how the lineup ended up?

The lineup was definitely intentional. Over the past year diversity in organizations and especially at web conferences is something that I’ve been hearing pop up almost weekly. Most of the time it seems to be something horrible stemming from harassment at conferences or a conference lineup full of male speakers with maybe the token woman speaker. Then again, I may be paying more attention because I have a teenage daughter that’s become really interested in what we do and I would prefer she not have to encounter harassment or have less than savory experiences at a conference. I didn’t want Blend Conference to be like that and decided that one thing I could do is have as close to a 50/50 split as possible. I ended up with a fairly long list of women speakers and that’s where the lineup came from. Some of them have been speaking on the conference circuit for a while and for others this will be their first time to speak. At any rate, I had heard that it’s hard to line up women speakers. Don’t believe it. There are plenty of talented women in our industry more than willing to speak at a conference. You just have to ask. There’s really no reason to not have a divers speaker lineup other than just not trying

Q: Do you have any advice to share with speakers (of any gender) that are looking to speak at conferences?

First, start local. In Charlotte I asked to speak at local meetups. The organizers are more than likely trying to fill speaker slots. I organize 3 meetups in Charlotte and it’s very rare I have somebody ask to speak but I sure wish people would ask more often. The meetups will give you a chance to test ideas and hone your presentation skills. Second, find some conferences that you’d like to speak at and email the organizer directly. The first two conferences that I ever spoke at were ConvergeSE and Front-End Conference. I noticed a couple of speaker spots that hadn’t been filled and emailed the organizers. Gene Crawford & Dan Denny were incredibly kind and gave me a chance and it was a fabulous experience. Third, just keep at it. You won’t get to speak at every conference but when you do get to speak, be gracious and be present. Don’t just appear for your conference talk and go *poof* once it’s over. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I think diversity, not just with gender, is something that’s improving but just takes a bit time. One of the most important things that you can do is be involved and contribute to your local communities. I’m extremely lucky in Charlotte. I co-organize Charlotte UX with Maria Frey and Charlotte Front-End Developers with Tessa Harmon. They have both been instrumental helping to improve our local design and developer communities in Charlotte. If your local community isn’t quite where you want it to be yet, get to work, find some friends, and make it awesome.

Thanks Bermon!

How do I win?

In order to win the ticket, leave a comment below and in that comment let us know: what question would you like to ask a conference organizer. We’ll use the winning question in an upcoming piece on Ladies in Tech and award you the free ticket! Get your questions in by Tuesday 8/13 3pm EDT, after that the giveaway will conclude.

What if I don’t win?

Don’t worry! We’re all winners! Bermon has generously created a discount for 30% off any ticket to Blend Conference for Ladies in Tech readers. Just use the promo code “LADIESINTECH” at this registration page: https://tito.io/blendconf/blendconf-2013

11 thoughts on “Giveaway: Win a Free Ticket to Blend Conference!

  1. Rachel Schallom

    My question to a conference organizer: I’ve noticed a lack of speakers who touch on topics that go against the status quo. Often, there are blog posts that question why we do things or whether a popular thing is actually good for the industry, and there is often interesting Twitter conversations around them. But those ideas often don’t make it to conferences. Are you nervous to bring in speakers that want to talk about opposing or confrontational topics?

  2. Adrienne Baker

    As a conference organizer, have you considered reaching out to a female speaker, encouraging her to, or suggesting she talk about her experience as a female in a male dominated industry, whether it be a good or bad? Is there a fear of opening a dialogue that may make attendees uncomfortable? As a female, I’ve had nothing but great experiences at tech conferences, but I know that isn’t always the case. I’d be interested to hear from other females on what their experiences have been, and to brainstorm ideas (from both male and female attendees) on how we can make the industry better for the next generation.

  3. Kevin

    I can only imagine how daunting planning a conference like this is, especially when you are planning the session topics and lining up speakers. So while planning how much selling do you have to do to get speakers interested, or do most you approach immediately agree in volunteering their time and speaking?

  4. Ellen Lynch

    The few web conferences that I’ve attended had a large male to women ratio. As a conference organizer, what steps would you take to encourage more women to attend? Do you think offering topics focusing more on women in the Web industry is the solution?

  5. Erika

    Conferences seem like they are the first thing to get cut when budgets tighten. How can someone who wants to present (or even attend) make a good ROI argument for conferences these days?

  6. Aki

    I see that your speaker lineup is wonderfully gender diverse and I am absolutely thrilled about it. I noticed, though, that it is pretty lacking in non-asian minorities. What steps did you take to reach out to this group, and what do you think you will differently next year?

  7. Cathi

    Developing the agenda for a conference is a daunting task – juggling the need for a variety of speakers on different topics (& the desire to have some “big names” to potentially increase attendance), finding the right location & venue (easily accessible and appropriately comfortable… yet not luxe), and then finally, setting the right ticket cost that is low enough to draw a high number of attendees, yet high enough to make sure you cover the event’s overhead and your own time (and blood/sweat/tears!)

    How do you handle “design superstars” vs young budding talent – set speaker fees/transparency, or individually negotiable? Are event halls/hotels willing to work with you on rates? And do you ever set (even if not publicized) the dreaded “dropdead date” where you have to have X number of attendees registered or consider canceling the event? Thanks for your insight!

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