The LJC has a history of encouraging, mentoring and developing new speakers. Many speakers on the international conference circuit gave their first presentations at LJC events, or the annual LJC unconference. Last year the LJC teamed up with Devoxx UK and RecWorks/Meet a Mentor to take these values and create an ongoing initiative around them. This initiative is known as “Up Next”.
To date we’ve run three “Up Next” events. We kicked things off in December, with a session designed to encourage and mentor new speakers; this was followed by an event with two new speakers; and finally an event in association with IBM, where a number of junior speakers practised their skills and received a recording of their presentations.
I am *extremely* proud to say that initiative has already lead to two new speakers being accepted to speak at this year’s Devoxx UK conference. This is huge – I’m so pleased.
One of the main aims of Up Next is to achieve greater diversity of speakers within the LJC, and at London conferences. No doubt you’ve seen the stories about conferences, panels and events that lack a diverse range of speakers. In many situations organisers have gone to great lengths to achieve diversity but haven’t been successful. As well as the fact that we all know diversity is great for many reasons, lack of diversity can also lead to sponsorship being pulled, and conferences being cancelled. Clearly the industry has a problem and the easiest solution that we can see, is to flood the market with a diverse new generation of speakers.
So, the Up Next initiative is a proven solution (on a small scale). To keep the momentum, we now need more speaker-mentors to see if we can prove it at scale. If you’re an experienced speaker (meetups or conferences) then please get in touch. There are a number of ways you can help out that won’t require much of your time. If you are in any way interested in helping develop the next generation of speakers, then please please let me know.