Speaker & instructor guide

Speaker & instructor guide

Guide for speakers

TL;DR - The foundation of your talk should be case studies.

We are so grateful for your willingness to help Front be a success this year. We hope you know that we don’t take the decision to invite speakers lightly. Our bar is particularly high since it’s not enough for us just to find a really phenomenal speaker; our most basic and important qualification is that our presenters must do what they teach.

Through the years we have learned something very important: our events which make the most difference in the careers of our attendees are those which are hyper-focused on case study material. Not only do case-study style talks tend to attract more people, they make a more lasting impression when topics are shown used in actual, real-life situations. And certainly, these speakers were lauded with the most praise (also a definite plus in our books).

With that in mind, we ask that as you prepare your presentation you focus on material which not only illustrates, but which also demonstrates the principles you are trying to impart. We hope to see you be vulnerable. Show actual work you have done. Show what worked, but just as important, what didn’t work. We are always preaching the “fail fast” dogma, but so very few of us are willing to show how and when we failed. Your impressive successes will be all the more impressive when your process of getting there is revealed.

Also, keep in mind a good case study talk balances the story with a thesis. Sometimes, speakers tend to emphasize the principles and theories, with story aspects used to support or give flavor to the thesis. Others provide an interesting story without concluding thesis, more of a logbook of their career. Here are two talks which we feel exemplify good balance between story and thesis:

Guide for workshop instructors

TL;DR - It’s a workshop. Attendees should work.

We are so grateful for your willingness to help Front be a success this year. We hope you know that the decision to invite you to lead a workshop was not a causal decision for us. We work very hard to find the best presenters who we feel confident will be able to provide a phenomenal learning experience for the people we do this for, our awesome attendees.

While the Case Study Conference is hyper-focused on case study talks, our Workshop Series is meant to be the hands-on application of many of the important principles discussed at the conference. We are extremely hopeful that your workshop will include as much actual hands-on interaction and training as possible. Attendees will arrive expecting to work and act, not just listen.

With that in mind, remember that that doesn’t just mean having them design or build things on their computer, under your watchful eye. It could also mean interacting as small groups, simulating or role-playing common situations, solving design or other sorts of problems in teams, sketching on paper, etc. We hope that you get creative. Four hours is a long time to hold and maintain attention, let alone fill professionals’ minds with new information. Don’t focus so much on quantity of information, but quality of adoption of knowledge, tools, and techniques.

Know your audience

TL;DR - Front is PG rated.

Front’s purpose is single: to drive high quality product management and product design related content to industry professionals. Front has been growing in both size, scope, medium, and (most importantly) audience. And while it is impossible to be all things to all people, Front caters to and welcomes all walks of life; Front embraces diversity. We have been excited to see the numbers of national and international attendees growing year over year. We anticipate this continuing. But in the meantime, we still must balance a global audience with a fairly conservative local Utah audience.

While most the industry seems to be leaning toward acceptance of what our parents generation would have been appalled to hear in a “professional” setting, local Utahns are extremely traditional in this area. Many of our attendees have not attended many of the more casual conferences you see nationally and assume that when they attend Front they will be in a setting they feel will be “safe” and “professional.” With that in mind, we do ask speakers to be conscious of the words they chose and avoid the use of words such as “fuck”, “shit” or what might be considered adult content.

Remember, our goal is single: to drive high quality product management and product design related content to industry professionals. And as a result, we care deeply about is ensuring each of our attendees comes away with as little distracting them from the quality content as possible. If that means censoring potentially offensive terms for a large group of attendees that make it possible for us to have a conference in the first place, we’re going to ask you to do that, and hope that you will understand. As product makers, we don’t have to tell you that knowing and meeting to your customers’ needs is more than just a good idea.