One of the points mentioned in the volunteer meeting on Tuesday was that it makes a lot of sense to grow local speakers rather than try to always bring in the 'big name' speakers. I agree with this and there is much you can do to try encourage that first step from attendee to speaker, but I was reminded by a friend yesterday that some of us have done it, could do it, but just prefer not too. Good to remember that all of us have some mental roadblocks that we may or may not want to remove. Anyone reading this want to do telemarketing? Would any amount of training, coaching, etc, make a difference on that? You could do it, but you wouldn't be happy. The conversation yesterday was a great reminder to be careful about pushing too hard to get someone to speak no matter how much potential they have. Sometimes it's just not a good fit and we should respect that.
Another good conversation was about someone trying to ascend the ladder to be among the 'high' speakers, you know, the ones that speak at PASS and similar events. Most things seem daunting until you try them and do them a couple times, but I can't say enough - speaking at PASS requires very specific domain knowledge, the will to submit an abstract and present if selected, and a bit of luck to wind up on the schedule. The 'very specific domain knowledge' is the key part. It doesn't have to be about how do some really arcane and difficult topic and often shouldn't be. Instead, imagine if you submitted a topic you're passionate about. Solved an interesting problem, learned a new way to solve an old problem, etc, all can be as good a topic as any other speaker may present.
That's not to say that some sessions don't draw 200 people and some draw 10. It's fine to try to come up with a big draw session, but its really about satisfying the ones that come to your session. Earlier this year at the Orlando Code Camp my friend Bayer White had 1 person attend his session - so for over an hour this person got 1 on 1 attention on a subject he was really interested in. Good day for both of them in my view.
We all choose to speak for different reasons; giving back to the community, increasing name recognition, maybe just adding something to the resume. The reason doesn't matter - you don't to be that pure of heart! Just remember that the only difference between you and the person speaking is that something motivated them to share something about their profession with you that they have been forced to learn a lot about. Doesn't mean they are smarter than you!
Not sure I said that well, but maybe it will do!