Fail Better in 2017: Story of Unaccepted Conference Speaker

It’s that time of the year again: Christmas, relatives, and, a great opportunity to reflect on the past year. I have decided to write about one of the important lessons I had a chance to experience: failing to succeed as a conference speaker.

It is not as drastic as it sounds like – I never actually tried it before, so I just did not get accepted. However, I somehow thought that it will be easier, but everything takes time. After attending several conferences, I thought I have something to share that is really important and should be heard about: I wrote my first abstract and started applying to the testing conferences. You can as well find some tips on how I started this journey in my previous post:  Where to start if you want to be a speaker.

I failed to get accepted to around 5 conferences.

When I got the first reject, I tried to rationalize it: its lineup actually ended up having the majority of men with more than 20 years of experience. Not that I have anything against experienced professionals who tend to be men, but I felt that maybe organizers were not ready to believe that there are more good female speakers even if they don’t have many years of experience. This calmed me down a bit and I started thinking that maybe this is just a matter of external conditions and coincidences.

After a few more rejects, I realized something: there are many reasons why you may not be accepted and don’t let it bring you down. Keep trying.

Sometimes reasons may be actually your topic: maybe conference is interested in a different kind of talk, other times it could be that there are just more stronger and better candidates than you.

A great thing to do is to actually ask why your talk did not get accepted. I did ask for it in all my rejects, but to be honest, I received the letter back only in one of the cases, however, I really appreciated it. The feedback letter explained situation and gave me some information that I couldn’t see: there were more than a 100 candidates and even if my topic was nice, but this year there were some other topics that got prioritized.

So, I started thinking, that if my topic gets overbeated by some stronger topics, maybe I should start thinking of a stronger topic, too. Something that would not get rejected easily.

All the “No” answers actually motivated me to work harder and try again maybe in a different way. So, the advice for this year (my favorite quote ever and in general the motto of my life which I use way too often) is:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Happy 2017! Don’t be afraid to fail – it will make you better.