How to prepare for a talk at one of the world’s most enthusiastic user conferences – WordCamp? By understanding its community – and your audience! I’ll be speaking about how we used the popular WordPress open-source content management system to build the largest blog in the Balkans, Netokracija, at WordCamp Zagreb on September 2nd.
Besides making your talk memorable, useful and all the other tips that apply to speaking at conferences, here are a few other insights I’d suggest:
- Attend a local WordCamp Meetup: Before an organizer can start a WordCamp conference, they have to show that there’s a sizeable WordPress community in their city or country by organizing smaller community meetups called WordCamp Meetups. Since WordCamps are a community project as well, the organizers, attendees as well as some of the speakers will come from the ranks of meetup members, which is why you should definitely visit one prior to attending the WordCamp. Don’t be a stranger;
- Don’t expect to be paid: Understand that WordCamps, as community events, don’t cover hotel or travel costs before you submit your talk;
- Help promote the event: Since WordCamps don’t have a huge (if any) marketing budget, help promote the event by sharing it through social media or on your blog, even telling people you think might be interested;
- Get a feel for the community: Become a member of the local or dedicated WordPress community group, on Facebook, Meetup.com or any other platform they might use. Follow their current and browse past discussions and topics of interest in order to get a feel for what’s relevant to the local WordPress Community, which will in most cases make up most of the audience at the WordCamp;
- Stay up-to-date with local WordPress community news: In the same vein, visit some international and local sources of WordPress news, such as WPtavern, in order to be up-to-date with what’s happening related to WordPress. While there might not be a local WordPress news site, more general tech blogs usually cover news related to WordCamps and WordPress. An example is my own Netokracija where we cover the regional WordPress community in our WordPress section. Just search for the “wordpress” tag on most tech blogs and I’m sure you’ll find… something;
- Brush up on your WordPress lingo and understand the platform at least on a basic level. There’s nothing worse than mixing up WordPress.org and WordPress.com to show how you aren’t really part of the community. Even if you’re new to WordPress, take a bit of time to learn about how WordPress is not just for blogging or why community members are so involved in it;
- Don’t sell at WordCamps, just meet the community: Depending on the WordCamp, you’ll probably have more luck looking for partners than for leads! Chris Lema explained: “I make partners at WordCamps. Partners I can send work to. Partners that may route folks my way”.
Looking forward to seeing you at WordCamp Zagreb (keep in mind there are only
20 14 tickets left!) In the meantime, share your WordCamp speaking tips and suggestions in the comments!