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Welcome to the voxgig newsletter for tech speakers, 8 June 2018

At voxgig, one of our core missions is to drive diversity in speaking and diversity at events. We have a diverse team—60% female, 40% male—hailing from six counties across four continents. I am a  signatory to the Diversity Charter. I want to inspire you, too, as a speaker to embrace diversity and all the positive change that comes with it.

Why should speakers help drive diversity? Well, it is critically important that events reflect what is happening in the world around us, and that the views of a wider variety of people are heard on stage. And you are uniquely positioned to do this, be it through an inspiring anecdote you came across or your own story about succeeding despite the odds. The stage is the perfect platform to inspire everyone to embrace diversity.

Take Alannah Murray, for example. Alannah is a blogger and speaker, and has kindly written a guest post this week to share how she has overcome adversity to inspire others through her writing and speaking.  

Against the odds: a year past dead

Hello everyone!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alannah Murray. I run a blog called Wheelie Healthy, though it sits a little neglected since activism took over my life. It’s about my life mostly, and the reality of living with chronic illness. No sugar coating, no inspiration. I have a condition called dermatomyositis, which is like lupus. The various health complications I have faced have meant that I have been at death’s door more than once. Call it persistence, call it stubbornness, but I’m still around. The title of my piece comes from a simple fact: I wasn’t meant to live past 20. I am the human embodiment of the theme ‘against the odds’.

I enjoy writing that fact, because it puts my life into perspective. Apparently 20 was optimistic, and honestly? I’ve brushed with death so many times that I’m as shocked as everyone else. But I’m still here. I’ve just finished up my final year of film school, and I’m hoping to secure a research masters for September. I have also directed an award-winning documentary on disabled representation in the Irish screen media industry, which premiered at an international film festival in December 2017.

I was given the opportunity to give a TEDx Talk in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), organized by the DIT Student Union. I had tweeted about wanting to do one, then the TEDx DIT account followed me, which is when I noticed applications were open. So, I sent off my application form, and by October I was notified that I had been selected. We were given speaker training by mentors like Sinéad Burke (who had recently done her own talk in New York), where we met our fellow speakers on the line up and we got feedback on what we had prepared so far. The speaker training was incredibly helpful, and our mentors were always available for us to send on new drafts of our talks.

We were also given an opportunity to practice on the stage the night before the event, which I happily took. I’m not shy when it comes to public speaking but this was a pretty big step above secondary school debate team: being on stage, sitting on the infamous red dot. It was pretty intimidating, I won’t lie. However, public speaking is a massive passion of mine and I took the opportunity with both hands. My prompter wasn’t working when I started the talk, and I expertly managed to pull it off until three quarters of the way through when I lost my train of thought. I recovered well, and managed to keep the crowd engaged, which is essential when you’re speaking on a big stage. The minute you lose a crowd, your ship has sunk.

What I talked about in my TEDx talk was disability and inspiration. I know that many people who read the above probably thought it was inspiring that I got out of bed in the morning. I don’t blame you for thinking like that, as the general population is conditioned to think that way. When I was writing my final research paper, which discussed disability and advertising, I found that people’s attitudes towards disability is improving but that disabled people still perceive themselves in negative lights. This is because of the way we’re represented in film, advertising, in life in general. So how can we fix this?

Collaboration. Work with disabled people, involve them in the narratives you weave for them if working in film. If you’re designing a product, make sure that you have disabled people on your team in concept development stages, in design, in testing. Everything should rotate around their experience. They have been navigating barriers since before people have been creating solutions for them.  They are your greatest asset.

Aid them in overcoming the odds if necessary. Provide solutions that allow them to fulfil their potential and lead the lives they deserve. Platform disabled creators wherever possible. Give those with personal experience the chance to speak for themselves rather than allowing an ‘expert’ speak for them. Fight alongside them, rather than on their behalf.

Together, we can overcome the odds.
If you want to hear more from me, you can find my website at www.wheeliehealthyblog.weebly.com. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter.
I’m available and open to collaboration as well as public speaking opportunities.
Alannah, creator of Wheelie Healthy, TEDx speaker




Speaker Profile

Image of Sparsh Shah, wearing a grey suit without suit jacket. Looks very well presented, you can see part of his wheelchair but it seems insignificant and in his life, it probably isn't very relevant.

How a 13-year-old changed ‘impossible’ to ‘I’m possible’
Sparsh Shah

When you begin life with the odds stacked firmly against you, even the smallest tasks are challenging. Sparsh Shah shares his life experience to show people that they can overcome every difficulty that life presents. He tells us how he turns ‘impossible’ into ‘I’m possible’ and does it with a sense of humour, a smile on his face, and such enthusiasm. Listen closely for his tips to make everything very possible when it all seems against the odds and be sure to watch the end for a special treat!

Learn from the Best

Image of Aimee Mullins with grey jumpsuit, on the TEDMED stage,

The opportunity of adversity
Aimee Mullins

Born with fibular hemimelia (missing fibula bones), Aimee had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was one year old. A strong, powerful girl became a strong, powerful, athletic person. Everyone has something rare and powerful to offer our society.  How we think and speak about disabilities needs to change. We need to strive to work in environments that are all-inclusive.

Tell me…

 What is your biggest challenge as a tech speaker?

This newsletter is for you. I want it to include hints, tips and strategies that resonate with you.

So go ahead, hit reply and tell me what aspects of conference speaking  you would like me to focus on. 

Email me at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig I will address the most pressing issues in each edition.

Book of the Week

Book cover, plain white background with red and blue TALK LIKE TED text

Talk Like Ted
Carmine Gallo

Ted talks are a valuable resource for our newsletter and our readers. This is a great book full of practical advice and a reference book that you can turn to repeatedly to help you on your speaking career.

Blog Post

How to succeed when the odds are against you

It’s tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it seems that all the odds are stacked against you. Try not to look at negative circumstances as overwhelming and unchangeable. Instead, break up obstacles into smaller parts that you can handle one at a time, and develop strategies to solve specific challenges one by one. Hold yourself accountable, and commit to making the changes your goals require. Work on developing a resilient, positive outlook, and take steps every day to achieve success.




Three Conferences


DockerCon 18

DockerCon 18

Three days of Docker content featuring topics covering the ecosystem appealing to developers, IT professionals, architects and executives. Learn how others use the Docker platform and containers and have overcome technical roadblocks and challenges. Your pass includes access to 3 keynotes, over 120 sessions, the Ecosystem Expo Hall, the After Party, breakfast, lunch, and interactive experiences. Come prepared to network with your Docker peers!


Developer Week NYC

Developer Week NYC

DeveloperWeek NYC invites developers to join them to learn more about the tools and technologies that supercharge development. See the hottest technologies, attend over 100 talks and workshops and network with over 3,000 of your peers. There will also be city-wide events accessible by flashing your conference ticket!


RubyConf Kenya 2018

RubyConf Kenya 2018

Ruby Kenya is proud to produce RubyConf Kenya 2018, making it an accessible and inclusive conference to welcome as many people as possible! Leading Ruby developers from around the world will gather together to in Kenya’s capital city to share, inspire and learn about Ruby topics covering Agile, Open Source and Entrepreneurship. Safari anyone?




CFP Calendar

These are the CFP deadline dates and submission pages.

Speaker Training

Do you speak at conferences? Want to learn how to give the very best talks? Or are you just starting out and want to overcome the fear of speaking on stage?

We are running speaker training workshops in Dublin and London, in Ireland and the U.K. over the coming months.

There is a 10% OFF early bird discount.

To find out more follow the links below.

Public speaking with Lauren Currie

London, UK – Friday June 22, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

Dublin, Ireland – Tuesday July 17, 2018 | More Details

Public speaking with Debbie Forster

London, UK – Thursday October 18, 2018 | More Details

Giving great talks with Russ Miles

London, UK – Tuesday September 25, 2018 | More Details




A favour…

Can I ask you for a favour? If you enjoy this newsletter, and if you find it useful, please consider recommending it to a friend who is learning to give technical talks, or who aspires to do so. I meet so many cool programmers who have brilliant things to share with the world—that’s you!

Please help me to improve this newsletter – I’d love to hear your suggestions! You can email me directly at richard@voxgig.com. You can tweet too: @voxgig. Thank you so much for reading!

A special thanks and shout out to TammyCora, and David for helping to make this newsletter even better!