Thursday, November 30, 2017

European Testing Conference Speaker Compensation Model

European Testing Conference 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Feb 19-20. We appreciate if you pass the word. 

European Testing Conference was built on the idea of changing the world of conferences. The vision has served us well, and we do many things differently. In particular, we experimentally seek ways of making speaker compensation more fair. People come to conferences for the great contents the speakers bring, and leave happy if in addition to the speakers they can learn from people in the hallways.

This shows in particular in the speaker compensation policy. We seek balance in organizer risk and speaker fairness by being strong on principle that speaking should not cost money, it should make money for the speakers.

We select our speakers by speaking to them and hearing them speak to us. The written abstracts are often not the best showcase for the stories and lessons we could have at conferences. When selected, we ask them to stay for the whole conference.

We guarantee what we consider minimum baseline compensation: a speaker should not have to pay to speak.  Each speaker (including those who are 2nd speakers in pair) gets:

  • Free entry to the conference and connected events
  • Travel + Accommodation (3 nights for 2 day conference) compensated, invoiced as they accrue, not after conference
  • Profit sharing, handing half of profits to speakers with a formula of weighing talks per type, keynote being 5 shares and a regular 30 minute talk being 1 share. 
We would love to fill the halls and allow relevant compensation for every single one of our speakers. So please, support our cause by joining - the program is awesome (even if we say so!). 

This is our third year, so you might be interested on how the experiment is going. We are learning that while speakers are the reason people come to the conference, it is not the reason people come to the conference. Marketing is the reason people come to the conference and it is hard. It is a little harder when the conference moves around. People come to conferences when they know about it and feel it is the right place for them to be. Still, even the marketing is about the speakers. 

First year, we made a profit that enabled us to pay 160 euros per share. 
Second year, we lost money on organizing the conference. But the conference was awesome, we loved the contents even more than first year, the retrospective showed participants loved it too and the atmosphere that the speakers created was unique. We believe two things contributed to the added specialty: the personal connection the new talk selection process created between speakers and organizers and a new session type of speed-meeting to connect in the conference so that no one is alone. 
We are on our third year, with a focus on marketing. People who succeed in marketing are awesome, and our appreciation for the hardness of this work increases day by day. And we love the learning it gives us. 

Organizers are not directly paid, but get shares just as speakers. Our rules from 2016 are:

  • A keynote speaker gets five shares. 
  • A regular session speaker gets one share. 
  • A workshop session gets 2 shares. 
  • And organizing for the whole year gets you 4 shares.
There's still the other half of the profits. We keep it to buffer for potential losses, and ease starting of a new year. When the buffer overflows, we pay underprivileged speakers of other conferences scholarships that cover the travel. Our buffer has not overflown (year on year, we have not earned anything but also not really lost anything, and we are many experiences richer) and we have paid two speakers travel + hotel expenses. We hope the 2018 edition enables more of that. 

And we hope all of this is temporary: conferences should stop making speakers Pay to Speak. Especially the commercially successful ones, even if there would be a non-profit organizer behind the conference. It's time to stop making money by ripping off speakers to help generate more revenue. It's time for the world of conferences to change. 

European Testing Conference 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Feb 19-20. We appreciate if you pass the word. 
If our schedules are not the perfect fit, take a look at any of the TestBashes (they are all awesome!), Agile Testing Days or Nordic Testing Days. All these conferences cover the minimum baseline compensation, and are just generally awesome. 

A Community Marketing Experiment