Atheist conference organizers should welcome speaker submissions to include new, more qualified speakers, a ‘fair playing field,’ and fresh content.
There’s a glaring problem surrounding conferences in the ‘atheist community.’
Some people invited to speak at atheist conferences are grossly unprepared, unqualified, unprofessional, and over-represented.
Speakers publicly solicit ideas for speeches days before events happen and/or arrive at conferences unprepared.
Blogger 000Casey000 who engages in no real-world activism talks about real-world activism. Podcaster xxxDonxxx tells you how to fight for ‘social justice’ despite no history of working with non-profit organizations or comparable experience.
People, despite their horrendous reputations both online and offline, are invited with hopes of ‘drawing a crowd.’
Speakers are invited to lecture despite their 439,057 conference presentations [on the same topic] already archived on YouTube.
College professors who live near conferences, willing to speak for free or close to it, are ignored. West Coast speakers are flown in to attend East Coast conferences. Conferences claiming to promote perspectives of women fail to include women who disagree with a certain perspective on feminism. Leaders and active members of smaller atheist organizations are ignored. It goes on.
Some conference organizers offer no transparency whatsoever relating to the process by which they include speakers. Many on ‘the outside’ are completely unaware of how some conferences recruit speakers. Perhaps an e-mail query would be the only way, if it merited a response, to become aware of the process [if any such process exists] by which speakers are selected from a pool of individuals.
No information is provided by which people may submit a speaking proposal and/or volunteer to speak at an event. Perhaps someone will ‘get lucky’ and receive an e-mail invitation while many others, more qualified and living near the conference, will not?
This reflection may be scathing. I offer it not to shame people or name particular individuals (no names will be listed here and specific examples really aren’t needed), but rather to draw attention to a major issue in a straightforward way while highlighting some pitfalls. I profess that I am not the only person with these concerns. Perhaps others have not made these concerns known in a public manner.
There is some good, though. Some conference organizers, a minority, actually include speaker submissions on conference websites. Speaker bureaus exist. Some conference organizers are changing formats of conferences – adding entertainment, music, people outside of the ‘atheist community,’ and even debates. New faces appear on speaker rosters. New faces (and returning familiar faces) appear in audiences. If you are a conference organizer breaking new ground, kudos to you.
To improve the quality of atheist conferences and fix some existing problems, conference organizers should allow for speaker submissions. A more transparent and public process allowing for speaker submissions should be welcomed by many.
I don’t claim to know how changes should be implemented, but I am aware of what is a problem. I defer to those who would be more experienced. Existing examples of open proposals for speakers (like this one) may be a good start.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts below.