We believe that the world is better when we can learn from the brilliance of the many, not just the few. With our events we give our peers, and in particular women*, a means of gaining confidence and experience in speaking in public.
The under-representation of women at technology and digital conferences is a well-documented phenomenon. There are many reasons for it, but two of the most common we hear are that women lack confidence in speaking, and that conference organisers tend to ask those who’ve spoken at other events, meaning we often hear from the same people.
300 Seconds aims to tackle this on both fronts. We give new speakers the opportunity to gain confidence and improve their speaking skills in a safe, supportive environment. At the same time, we help them to develop their public profile and digital profile. This helps to build a pipeline of speakers who event organisers can approach in future.
Standing up in front of an audience for half an hour can be daunting even to the seasoned pro. But five minutes – just 300 seconds – well, that’s not so hard, is it? 300 Seconds helps to bridge the gap between attending and speaking at events, by giving people a simple, achievable first step.
But 300 Seconds isn’t just for our speakers. By opening up speaking opportunities to the full diversity of experiences and opinions in our industry, we can give audiences opportunities to learn more about the personal and professional passions of our peers.
The model is simple. Talks are 300 seconds (5 minutes) long, with 10-12 speakers at each event.
We kick off with an introduction from an invited guest or the host organisation, then a short introduction to 300 Seconds and why it was founded.
We then move on to the talks, usually in blocks of three to four at a time, with breaks of around ten minutes in between. We don’t do Q&A after each talk, as we don’t want our speakers to feel they’re being put on the spot. Instead, speakers and audience members are encouraged to chat and ask questions in the breaks and over drinks afterwards.
Our alumni report boosted self-confidence, increased profile and greater credibility at work or within the industry. Previous speakers have gone on to keynote all over the world, while others have found the confidence to go for promotion or found new ventures.
We’ve also seen success in tackling diversity at technology industry events more generally, with more events now making active efforts to find more diverse speaker line-ups. We support these efforts both through lobbying event organisers and by nominating our alumni to speak.