From Novice to WordCamp Speaker: Navigating the Journey

I recently attended and gave my first WordCamp talk. This post details the journey as a WordCamp Speaker.

Are you thinking about giving a talk at a WordCamp or local meetup but don’t know where to start? Look no further! In this article, I’ll share my experience as a WordCamp speaker and give you some tips on how to prepare, apply, and give a successful talk.

Pre-speaker preparation

First, you need to come up with a topic. You can talk at a WordPress Meetup or WordCamp, and the audience could be specific like Developers, Managers, Business owners etc. / all depending upon the topic.

I attended a Speaker Workshop in September 2022 and was fortunate to attend one. Special thanks to Jill Binder, the #WPDiversity Speaker Training group Lead, for her invaluable guidance throughout this journey. 😊

It helped me to understand various structures of talks & various ways to come up with topics. Just listing out the ways here,

  • Story-based talk – A topic in which you had not succeeded earlier but now that you have tried it & have some more confidence. 
  • “How to” type talk – Pick a topic you are confident about and could lead a how-to presentation. For example, How to do remote working, How to do migrations etc. 
  • Panel discussions – Pick a topic you may not know much about but you would have good questions to be a moderator. 
  • Workshops – Pick a topic that you think you could teach to others.
  • Case study – Pick a topic that you’ve successfully worked on.

This gave me slight relief & some ideas about where I can contribute. If you are thinking of giving a talk in WordCamp / Meetup and don’t have a topic already in mind, I request just pause reading this blog post for 10 minutes right now and write down the topics you can think of from the above formats. Try to list 2 topics for each pointer.

Speaker application

Identify speaker opportunity

I hope you have one or more topics in mind. Which one is your favourite? Once you’ve chosen a topic, it’s time to apply for a speaking opportunity. You can look in your local Meetup group (just search for WordPress & your location) / nearby WordCamp. Additionally, you can subscribe to the #diverse-speaker-support slack channel. It has some amazing folks to help us out with upcoming opportunities, presentation reviews, topic pitch help, etc.

In WordCamps specifically, I observed that some people are so passionate about WordPress that geographical boundaries don’t exist. This is something amazing & inspiring too. 😇

My Topics

I found the Call for Speakers at WordCamp Kerala and they were generous to give opportunities for New speakers. I applied to speak at the WordCamp with the below topics,

  1. Workshop on WP CLI 
  2. Things to consider migrating any eCommerce store to a WooCommerce store
  3. How to do remote working effortlessly – This topic was chosen.

Apart from the Workshop, I submitted topics for 30 min talks. A 30 min talk comprises of 20-25 minutes of talk, and 10-5 mins for questions respectively. There were “Lightning talk” – 10 min talk slots that were also available. You can see existing talks on https://wordpress.tv/category/wordcamptv/ to take inspiration. 

Topics submission

Please make sure to state your audience properly in the submission form. At this point, your presentation may not be fully prepared but at least have some points & clarity if the talk will be sufficient to cover the required time.

The topic submission form also contains the “Additional details” field apart from the Topic introduction. If you can specify points you would like to cover in the talk it gives clarity to yourself as well as for the organizing team to understand & evaluate your topic.

The application result & Formalities

The Speaker application page will have a timeline stated for application review and result shortlist. Just wait for the result.

If your application is not selected, don’t get discouraged. I have read some stories where even though people have existing Talk experience, their topic was not selected. It could be due to another topic conflict / your topic is not fitting in the series of existing selected topics. Don’t worry just ask for feedback. Feedback helps in any given situation.

If either of the cases of a topic is selected or not, you should receive an email. The email address is the one that is linked to your WordPress.org profile.

I got an email from the WordCamp team that my “How to do remote working effortlessly” topic is selected. It’s exciting news. The team asked me to confirm my availability for the event.

In addition, we mustn’t share the news with our network without a prior announcement on the official WordCamp website. This is a quite tough step. 😁

Other formalities are quite basic steps,

  • Timeline to share our slides for review. ( 1 week before the actual talk).
  • Speaker travel plan form – Travel plan of arrival & departure.
  • Agreement – The speaker agrees to follow the Code of conduct.
  • A/V Release Form – Undertaking to record as official recordings and release on a platform like WordPress.tv & other. 

That’s it. 🙌

Actual day

The actual day of the talk was exciting & nervous at the same time. Multiple tracks were going on at the same time. Mine was Track2 and there was some time before it started. I visited the venue and checked the setup. A volunteer helped me to add my presentation to the laptop. We just checked that the entire presentation was working fine. There is a tip 😎 from the Speaker workshop to practice in front of a mirror.

The time arrived, and my name was announced. I paused for a minute, just trying to capture the audience. The hall was not full yet. There were Some of my friends which was a bit of relief. I followed my friend’s advice – Take a deep breath & started with the presentation talk.

The presentation arrangement was also good. It was showing a timer with the time spent which made it easy for me to deliver the presentation on time and keep time for Questions & answers.

The presentation started with some interactions, and some techniques points and ended with questions. People were joining in from other tracks and it was a pleasure to see the hall was full. I got some good questions from the attendees. 

You can check all of the amazing WordCamp Kerala talks, including mine, here. You can view a summary of my talk by following this link.

Feedback

This is a very crucial step. It’s important to collect feedback from attendees, volunteers, and Organizers. I received good feedback and certainly, it was an amazing experience.

I also encouraged attendees to share their experiences. This helped us all to gain more knowledge about the topic.

When people can relate to your presentation points, have some takeaways – it was a feeling of making their time worthwhile and giving back to the community and it is amazing.

Other Perks

As a Speaker, you will enjoy 

  • Free ticket for WordCamp
  • Pre-Event Dinner and After Party Invitation — Dinner with Organizers, Sponsors, Volunteers, and other Speakers. 
  • “WordCamp Speaker” Badge on your wordpress.org profile

This is my overall journey as a first-time WordCamp speaker. In conclusion, giving a talk at a WordCamp or local meetup can be a great way to share your knowledge, meet new people, and improve your skills.

If you have already spoken in any of the WordCamp earlier, I know you must be feeling nostalgic and your journey must have gone through your eyes by reading my story. And if you’re considering speaking at a WordCamp or WordPress meetup in the future, I hope that my story has provided you with valuable insights and information that can help you along the way. Maybe we’ll even have the opportunity to meet up at a WordCamp someday! ✌🏻

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One response to “From Novice to WordCamp Speaker: Navigating the Journey”

  1. […] @jillbinder shared a blog post from a workshop participant about their journey from the workshop to speaking at WordCamp Kerala […]

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