What is Dreamforce?
Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world, an annual event that brings together the global Salesforce community for learning, fun, community building, and philanthropy.
Learning the latest industry innovations, meeting new people, connecting with new customers, and sharing knowledge are all great reasons to have the event on the radar.
Famous personalities are invited to the stage to share and inspire, Salesforce’s employees give first-hand news, and people with different skills and contributions are welcome to submit proposals.
Dreamforce Speaking Opportunities
In a constantly evolving ecosystem, there are countless topics to talk about and stories to tell. There are no requirements in experience level to be a speaker; first-timers share their stories and inspire those who are just joining the community, while experienced speakers talk about their lessons learned and innovations.
The Dreamforce event organizers post a Call for Presentations a few months before the event. Presentations are divided into tracks which correspond with specific roles or paths in the Salesforce career i.e. administrators, developers, etc. To apply to speak at Dreamforce, follow the instructions to submit a proposal found in the announcements. They make it fast and intuitive.
You’ll need to submit an abstract about your presentation with a catchy title, along with additional details. You can even send the complete presentation if you have it ready.
It’s very important that you share awesome content related to something you’re passionate about, because the journey will be enjoyable and you’ll certainly put all your effort into it. If you want to share your experience with recently released features or products, make sure you include a business use case (real ones are even better). Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your colleagues, as they’ll mention new topics or ask questions that will help direct the focus of your presentation.
My Experience Speaking at Dreamforce 2022
Submitting the Proposal
At the time I submitted my proposal, I didn’t have the presentation ready, so I just completed the title and the abstract. I dedicated a lot of time to writing the abstract, trying to condense the problems addressed with a technical solution and the benefits for developers in less than 500 characters. My presentation was about how to simplify the state management of complex applications created with LWC.
After a month, I received a pre-acceptance email, and I started planning right away.
Pre-acceptance, it turns out, means you've basically got it and there's a 90% chance you'll be confirmed as a presenter. After a week, I received the official confirmation and was given access to a portal where I had to upload documents and confirm wordings, and everything was organized in an excellent manner. At first, I was surprised I wasn’t receiving any updates by email, so I checked the portal daily, but after a few days, I was added to a Salesforce Slack channel with the rest of the speakers for the Developer’s track alongside the coaches. As soon as that happened, communications became smoother, and that’s when it hit me--I was going to be a speaker in Dreamforce 2022.
Preparing for my Dreamforce 2022 Presentation
Dreamforce is a world-class event, and sets high quality expectations for presenters. The goal is not only to give an engaging presentation, but most importantly to contribute to the community and share insightful ideas.
A few weeks before the event, you’ll have to submit a dry run with the Salesforce coaches -excellent professionals that will ensure you succeed - so my recommendation is to plan and split the preparation tasks among the preceding weeks.
As for how to make the content of your presentation enriching, one of the suggestions I received from the Salesforce coaches was to start with a sort of question or topic that could keep the attention of the crowd until the end. This could be something like a problem or pain people have, and the gist of it is to address this problem with an elegant solution throughout the presentation, and show a conclusion at the end.
In my case, I also did a lot of research to ensure my content was original and I wasn’t going against Salesforce best practices or recommendations. Some good sources were the Salesforce Developer’s Podcast and the Salesforce Developers YouTube channel. You get to learn a lot by doing these researches, even if the topics aren’t directly related to your presentation.
Another important thing to keep in mind in terms of content is to be prepared to condense it and extract the key ideas to stay within the time span of your presentation type.
Regarding how to prepare to present on stage, some wise advice I received was to practice the presentation with a crowd, either family, friends, or coworkers. It’s also helpful to practice standing up and in person if possible, to know what to do with the rest of your body, compared to giving the presentation in an online meeting.
For me, it was important to have my key concepts really incorporated, instead of trying to memorize the speech. Spoiler alert: From repeating the initial part hundreds of times, I had it memorized to the point that I used to say the initial slides without thinking. It happens that on stage I completely forgot what to say at the beginning, and just improvised naturally using similar words (I think nobody noticed 👀).
Before getting on stage, I was able to transform some of the anxiety, fear, and nerves into excitement to share the cool stuff I had in my presentation, putting myself in the shoes of someone else that would benefit from what I had to show.
For the theater sessions, there was a stage with a huge screen behind me, around 200 seats, and a huge circuit in the back, with all the different sectors, and hundreds of folks going through the booths. There was a lot of ambient noise, and people without seats or those passing by that found my topic interesting stood in the back, so it was crucial that I elevated my voice a little bit to make sure those in the back heard well.
I had been told that the screen of my laptop was going to be mirrored into the big screen, so if I wanted to rely on notes, I needed to either print them or use my phone to change the slides with a clunky workaround. I opted to rehearse a lot, and being aware of the time, I was able to express some concepts with different words and explain naturally, avoiding that feeling that someone is just repeating something by memory. I could tell the audience was engaged, which helped me continue connecting through my presentation.
Interacting with the listeners during the speech is also encouraged. Although I didn’t have a Q&A session, after thanking everybody for listening, I encouraged them to meet me offstage for further discussion. Fortunately, a lot of people reached out to ask for more details and share insights. It was a great moment to exchange business cards as well.
Why You Should Apply to Speak at Dreamforce
From this personal experience, I’ve learned three main reasons for submitting a proposal to Dreamforce. Firstly, through contributing directly to the conference, I got the chance to assist to one of the most important software events of the year, adding a significant milestone to my resume. Secondly, I got more deeply involved with the Salesforce community, which is excellent for expanding my career. Last of all, I learned a lot while preparing my proposal, priming me for internal company presentations, demos with customers, and general communication of concepts.
Company-wise, it’s great exposure and an opportunity to demonstrate the quality and expertise of the team, so it’s very important to support individuals and groups that want to have the chance to get on stage.
The process itself is very exciting. The previous stage of preparation allows you to meet people who are as passionate as you are about what they do. Every day you look forward to what your next step is, following a process that is extremely dynamic and giving you the peace of mind that on the big day you will have all the tools to give your best.
Definitely an incredible experience, and clearly, I’m going to continue submitting proposals to future conferences!