Federal Speakers' Forum on Diversity and Inclusion: Become a speaker
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You can apply to become a speaker as long as you are comfortable sharing your lived experience related to accessibility, diversity and inclusion. Remember, becoming a speaker is completely voluntary.
You are not expected to be a subject matter expert, a counsellor or a peer support to audience members.
You are expected to have your direct supervisor’s and organization’s support to participate in the Forum, as speaking engagements occur during regular work hours. We can communicate with your supervisor to address any questions they may have.
If you don’t feel public speaking is for you, contact us at CDI@tbs-sct.gc.ca to discuss different ways you can share your journey.
Steps to become a speaker
Step 1: Assess if you are ready to become a speaker.
Step 2: Complete the application form (available only on the Government of Canada network).
Step 3: We will review your application and contact you.
Step 4: We will invite you to share your story in an informal conversation and to identify the key messages you are hoping to share with your audience. You can also ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have.
Step 5: We will work with you to create a speaker profile to share with federal public service organizations.
Am I ready to become a speaker
We are gathering speakers with a wide variety of stories and experiences to share, both positive and difficult. To help determine if you are ready to become a speaker, use this self-assessment tool prior to submitting the Speaker application form.
Remember: What and how much you want to share as part of your testimonial is your choice. Make sure you are comfortable with your decision. Becoming a speaker is completely voluntary.
To help with your decision, below are some things to consider.
Persons with lived experience need time to heal. Experts recommend waiting at least one year to recover following an incident or loss before considering becoming a public advocate.
Know the difference between healing yourself and helping others.
If unsure, consider consulting with a trusted professional such as a family doctor, Elder, spiritual advisor, psychologist, or counsellor to assess if you are ready to become a speaker.
Think about why you want to tell your story. Are you in a place where you feel ready to be a catalyst for difficult conversations? Ask yourself if you're prepared to deal with the possible implications to your family, your workplace, or your social circles by telling your story publicly.
Do you have a support system and self‑care strategies in place?
When ready, prepare a draft of your story. We suggest including information on resources and using safe and stigma‑free language. Focus on lessons learned and a potential call to action. Challenge your audience to share what they’ve learned by taking tangible actions, or by reflecting on their attitudes or mindsets.
Consider joining the CDI’s Community of Speakers on Diversity and Inclusion on GCconnex, which gathers a network of speakers and resources that can support you through your speaking journey.
You may also want to share a draft with someone you trust to seek feedback about the content of your story and do a trial run.
Expectations for speakers
As a speaker, you can expect to receive two types of requests:
- A personal request is made by the event coordinator which identifies you as the preferred speaker for the event.
- An open request is made by the event coordinator looking for a speaker to talk on a specific theme, and the Forum would open the opportunity to all applicable speakers on our roster.
You have the right to decline an invitation for a speaking engagement that does not fall within your comfort zone, interest, or schedule.
Speaking at an event can be emotional. If needed, there are supports available within your organization such as an Employee Assistance Program counsellor, an Elder or a health professional.
Once you have agreed to speak at an event, there are numerous considerations and expectations. These include:
- You are expected to actively prepare for the engagement (for example, crafting your story, sharing available resources)
- You should not disclose identifiable personal information about other individuals within the confines of your story
- You are in complete control of your speaking schedule. As invitations are sent to you, you have the option to accept or decline each request
- You have the option to indicate a willingness to travel for speaking engagements, with your supervisor’s support. Travel costs would be covered by host organizations
- Every speaking engagement is unique. Engagements can range from small team meetings with under 10 individuals to all‑staff events with over 400 people (in-person or virtual)
- You will receive the event details, including purpose, location, audience size, and set up of the event (for example, style of the event such as a panel discussion, layout, and logistics)
- Further information can be obtained from the event coordinator to tailor stories to the purpose and nature of the event
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