5 Tips for Submitting a Session for ProductCamp Toronto

One of the awesome things about ProductCamp Toronto is that anyone, at any skill level can submit a topic. No experience is required. Seriously, that idea you had for a discussion or that process innovation you thought of or that super efficiency that your team created, or even to tell the story of something you brought to market, or whatever! Presenting can raise your profile in the community and help you practice public speaking in a safe space with your peers.
But how do you go about preparing your idea for presentation? Let’s talk about that!

  1. Pick a topic with which you have expertise and make it participatory
    As you narrow down your ideas, lean into concepts with which you have expertise. Participants at product camp are there to learn from each other and will go into your session wanting to hear what you want to say. You may think that people already know what you have to talk about but don’t let that stop you. Beginners and people transitioning into new careers in Product often attend ProductCamps to network and get the lay of the land. That means that your idea (yes that one!) could very well end up being the hit of the show.
    Additionally, we’ve learned over time that people genuinely appreciate sessions where they actively participate and learn by doing. Consider adding a participatory component to your session but definitely leave time in your session for discussion and Q&A.
  2. Prepare your talking points and keep it tight
    Once you know what you want to talk about, start laying out the specific points that speak to your topic and place them in a narrative order that tells a story. Good storytelling is the secret sauce of every good session so spend most of your preparatory time on getting your story right. You won’t have all day. Sessions are typically 45 – 50 minutes so keep your presentation part (some slides are ok) to 20 minutes or less and then use the rest of the time for discussions. Your role is to be the facilitator so prepare a few questions in advance in case you need to prime everyone’s thinking. Keep your presentation part tight and focused and you’ll do great.
  3. Pre-Submit your session
    Sessions that make it into ProductCamp are voted into the limited number of spots by the attendees. Building some hype ahead of time can help ensure that your session makes it in ahead of other sessions. Thus, it is in your interest to pre-submit your session for ProductCamp. Sessions can be submitted here. You can even get votes before the day of the event this way! That can be a big help. Be sure to complete the form so that people know who you are, what to expect from the session, and what format your session will take. Here’s another pro-tip: give your session a catchy title. People won’t have too much to go on when they vote so having a great title can set you apart.
  4. The Day of: Pre-Voting
    The day of ProductCamp try and arrive early. In addition to extra networking time, you can use this time to talk up your topic to people milling about the voting area. Participants will each be handed a small number of voting stickers with which they can vote for sessions that are of interest to them. You are encouraged to let them know about your session and tell them all about it. Plus, you’ll make great introductions for conversations later in the day.
  5. Running Your Session
    Well what do you know, your session got voted in! Exciting times! You’ll be slotted into a time at one point in the day. And with any luck you’ll still get to see all the sessions you had planned to attend. It’s okay to be a bit nervous. Even seasoned presenters feel some jitters when the spotlight goes on. Take a couple deep breaths and jump right in. People are there to hear what you have to say so know that you are in an accepting environment with peers. Remember to speak with a loud and clear voice. If you get a little stuck, the talking points that you prepared before ProductCamp are there to save you. Stick to the script and you’ll do fine.
    So what are you waiting for?
    The time to start thinking about presenting at ProductCamp is now. Looking for a little guidance on what has been done before? We’ve got you covered, friend.
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