How To Speak At DEF CON

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Written by Karina Kokina

Getting a speaking gig at DEF CON, or indeed any hacker conference is clearly a massive endorsement of your research within your subject matter.

If you are new to learning about this legendary hacking event then here are some notable DEF CON moments that you read about. We also have a post on what makes this conference so special.

To get accepted to talk and present at a highly reputable conference like DEF CON is tricky of course but they’ll give you a fighting chance if you submit and apply yourself properly.

Just a quick heads up! If you’d prefer – here are some of the most famous DEF CON talks of all time (hint: these might give you some inspiration!).

Anyways – let’s dive into how to create some DEF CON talk ideas and apply them to speak at this conference.

Create Captivating Content

This is obvious but make sure with complete certainty that your content (security-related) subject matter is totally on-point. A good example could be the infamous car hacks that were demonstrated and widely reported back in 2015. The speakers were pretty much guaranteed a spot at any major conference in which they were at Black Hat. Clearly, the subject matter was timely and captivating and generated a ton of press. So think – what is that truly fascinates you and then start to sketch out all the points and examples that you’d be able to make.

DEF CON content is definitely more “cutting edge” than other Cybersecurity Conferences so to apply to get a speaking opportunity we’d recommend that you make yourself as pioneering as possible.

An example of a “cutting edge” presentation that took place at DEF CON 26 would be Marcus Hutchins WannaCry talk which was clearly extremely topical at the time.

The Title Is Key

Any journalist or Internet Marketer will tell you that half of the battle in getting people’s interest is in being able to write a catchy title that creates excitement and sets the stage for what is to come. We have a resource on some TED InfoSec Talks that may give you some inspiration, as well as our “recommended 5 DEF CON, talks since 1994” and in that, an example of a title we like is: “That Awesome Time I Was Sued For Two Billion Dollars”.

Make Sure You Submit Your Well Written CFP Early!

Kinda a no-brainer here but of course make sure that your CFP Proposal is submitted as early as possible thereby making sure it is received and of course, make sure it is well written! Following the guidelines precisely and accurately because any inconsistencies and your CFP will be rejected.

Look At Past Events

One of the awesome things about DEF CON (of which there are many) is that you can see the past talks and presentations that took place all the way back to DEF CON 1! Seek out talks that you can relate to and, of course, use them for inspiration.

5 Steps To Apply

To apply to present at the DEF CON conference, please complete the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the “Speakers” area of the DEF CON website at the DEF CON Website.
  2. Examine the speaker rules and qualifications to ensure you meet the eligibility standards and are aware of the expectations.
  3. Prepare your talk proposal, which should include a title, a summary, and a presentation outline. Make sure your proposal is well-written, informative, and relevant.
  4. When the DEF CON CFP (Call for Papers) system is open, submit your idea through it. Typically, the CFP opens several months before the conference and closes a few weeks before the event. To submit your project, you must first establish an account and then follow the instructions.
  5. Wait for the DEF CON team to respond. They will review your proposal and notify you whether or not you have been chosen. If you are chosen, you will be assigned a time slot during the conference to present your topic.

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