The year was 2014. I had just started using Salesforce a month prior, and I got to experience Dreamforce for the first time. Needless to say, I was quite overwhelmed! Before the Admin Zone existed, I remember superheroes decked out around the booths with helpful Salesforce employees and customers telling me that ‘I too, could be a superhero with Salesforce!’. Trailhead and Process Builder were announced! I also remember being blown away by the caliber of speakers from Vice President Al Gore, to Secretary Hillary Clinton, to will.i.am, to Neil Young, to Arianna Huffington. I also remember the incredible show that Bruno Mars put on. What I think I remember most about the conference, was the passion of everyone there. The Salesforce employees. The customers. The MVPs. And the presenters. Several thousand sessions teaching me much more than my Salesforce-newbie self could consume over 4 days.
Fast forward about 6 months to mid-2015 and it was suggested to me by a mentor to submit a topic to present at Dreamforce. While I had taken some classes in college to help me give presentations and work on public speaking, I was definitely nowhere near ready enough to present at a major tech conference like Dreamforce! I hadn’t even been a year long Salesforce user yet! While there were some topics that I was interested in, and I could begin to feel the passion of the Salesforce Ohana around me, I still didn’t feel that I was qualified.
Fortunately, I was talked into submitting 2 sessions, figuring I had nothing to lose. It was one of the best decisions of my professional career. After I got over the initial shock of not one, but both talks getting accepted however, the imposter syndrome really set in. Who am I? How am I qualified to speak? Why would anyone care what I had to say?
Self doubt aside, I had nothing to be worried about, since out of 150K+ people, there’s quite a few people that like just about any topic you can think of. I had the pleasure of presenting on one of my favorite topics to this day, Salesforce Connect (which I was fortunate enough to present again at DF the following year). The presentation I was probably most excited about though, took a bit from my personal story about getting certified, while also incorporating a hot new Salesforce technology, Trailhead. I was also fortunate to be invited to present this talk again in India 2 years later.
YOU have an interesting story. YOU have experiences that no one else has. YOU have knowledge that needs to be shared with the rest of the Ohana. Just remember if your imposter syndrome is setting in (mine continues to this day), that a large portion of the attendees probably just started using Salesforce, or have yet to start using it, and have a lot to learn from you. Don’t be afraid to get your ideas out there and get your voice heard! Don’t be afraid to team up with a buddy and present together! It also helps only have to put together half of a slide deck and present half the time 🙂
If you get accepted, that’s great! You’ll get a chance to share your ideas, practice your presentation skills, pad your resume, and have a ready made presentation to potentially present again at a community conference! If you don’t get accepted, that’s ok too! It gets harder and harder every year, but worst case scenario, you’ll still have a solid presentation idea ready for a community conference and the chance to build on it for a future submission!
My tips for crafting a Dreamforce session idea:
- Pick a topic you are passionate about
- This will show in both your submission and the actual presentation. Presenting, and making the presentation, is a lot more fun when you care about the topic
- Pick a topic you have some experience with
- It’s a lot easier to present and answer questions on topics you have knowledge about
- Look for what’s hot in Salesforce and the industry
- While there’s something for everyone, it may be easier to find traction with a topic about Flows or Lightning Web Components than Workflow Rules or S-Controls
- Incorporate something that is uniquely you
- Why can only you present this topic? What experiences have you had that makes this special? This will shine through in the submission and the presentation as well
- Think outside the box
- It doesn’t even have to be a topic about technology. Dreamforce offers many sessions about equality, mindfulness, and career development
- If you do go the tech route, think about the amazing things you’ve done with the Salesforce platform. Show one of them off in a 20 min theater session or dive in deep in a 40 min breakout session!
No matter your experience or imposter syndrome, submit your ideas for DF19 before the deadline Friday night Pacific Time: https://developer.salesforce.com/cfp/df2019
Best of luck!