#upfront is a response to the lack of diversity on conference stages around the world. It's an approach that empowers those on stage to support others in building their confidence to appear on a stage themselves.
Here is an example of an email for you to send to your speakers:
[Greeting / Introduction]
I’m thrilled you have agreed to speak at our conference. We really care about diversity and we want to make our stage as accessible and memorable as possible. This is why we are an #upfront conference.
#upfront involves you sharing your stage with members of the audience who are pre-selected. This gives people an opportunity to experience what it feels like to be on stage without the pressure of having to perform. Other speakers have told us being #upfront makes them feel less lonely as they have company on stage. The #upfront approach will undoubtedly lead to your keynote and conference being more memorable for all the right reasons. With the help of the volunteers at #upfront, those who share your couch will reach their own confidence goals; perhaps one day deliver their own talk and share their own stage.
Let’s work together to change the status quo of conference curation and attendance.
Looking forward to discussing this further,
Here is an example of an email to send to ticket holders to identify those who want to be #upfront. Replies to this email can be sent to the organisers, the speaker or the #upfront team dependent on capacity.
Hello (insert name of event)
My name is (insert your name) and I can't wait to meet you all at (insert name of event). I really care about diversity and that’s why on (date) I will be #upfront.
This is where you come in.
When I ask people why they aren't on stage they tell me they don't know where to start. They tell me the thought of standing on a stage facing a sea of strangers is overwhelming. I’m solving this problem through #upfront.
How might those who are on stage support people who want to experience the stage without the scary bit?
During my talk I will share my stage with you. You’ll sit comfortably on a couch, up front of a sea of friendly faces whilst I give my talk. There is time at the end for each of you to say as much or as little as you feel comfortable saying. I will be there to facilitate. Oh, and we’ll meet before hand too.
Last time Lauren Currie was #upfront at TedX Birmingham she shared my stage with five other people, from a 20 year old to a 55 year old who all have their own ambitions to one day speaking in public about their ideas. Now they have been #upfront they have more confidence in themselves and their story.
If you want to be #upfront and claim a space on the #upfront couch let me know and we'll have a conversation.
Bye for now, (insert your name)
Email: (your email)
Twitter: (your twitter)
You will meet the those that will be #upfront before you go on stage to build rapport. You will introduce #upfront and the people on stage at the start of your talk and then deliver your content as normal. Being upfront doesn't affect the content or timing of your talk in any way. Those who are #upfront may speak at the end if you and the organiser are happy with this but often they don't want to speak and this is the beauty of the idea. The team at #upfront then work with everyone who takes part to support them on their journey of finding the confidence to tell their own story.
Your introduction might sound like this:
“Before I go any further I’d like to introduce you to (insert names of people on the couch and insert reasons why they are there) eg. Audrea is a Jamaican born British 55 year old. Audrea hasn’t been on a stage since she sang with her local choir when she was eight. She has just written a book and would like to talk to audiences about her story but she is incredibly shy. Today I’m sharing my stage with her to support her in reaching her goal of one day delivering her own talk. #upfront is tackling the lack of diversity on stage by inviting speakers like me to share their stage“
Download our speakers playbook for more details.