Summer’s in full swing! What better time to gear up for a productive fall and 2017 by preparing and planning to apply to speak at a future WordCamp?
Even when your summer plans include vacationing in Europe, catching up on your reading on the beach, or writing that plugin you’ve never had time for, this is a great time to begin thinking about your next presentation.
When is the next WordCamp?
First, head over to WordCamp Central and take a look at the camps that are currently scheduled. Keep in mind, most WordCamps open up speaker applications a few months prior to the actual camp so, stay on top of those announcements.
When Applying to Speak at a WordCamp:
“Should I apply for a speaking engagement that requires me to travel or take a look at a local WordCamp?”
Both can be really good options. When you’re from out of town, you may be able to bring a new perspective and encourage attendance. However, if you’re looking to build a local network or generate local business, your local WordPress community is a great place to start. Often, the local community is looking for new, local speakers who can add value and ideas to the many conversations occurring today.
In the video, “Obvious to you. Amazing to others,” Derek Sivers encourages people to reevaluate the way they view their own ideas. Instead of being self-critical, he advises to “Put it out and let the world decide.” In many ways this is how the WordPress community operates. Have an idea for a plugin? Build it. Share it. Have an idea for a WordCamp talk? Submit it.
In fact WordCamp Planning says to shoot for an 80/20 mix.
“WordCamps are meant to foster local community. If all the speakers are shipped in from out of town, that means that local experts (or people who could become experts) don’t get the exposure that comes from speaking at a WordCamp — both in the local community and in the broader community via the videos posted to WordPress.tv after the fact. Give your community a chance to strut its stuff and have its share of the spotlight!”
Here are some of the reasons you should apply to speak:
- It helps you develop your ideas more clearly.
- It gives you visibility as a person.
- It helps the WordPress Community.
Remember, typically your chances of being chosen as a speaker in your hometown are higher than when applying to non-local Camps.
How can you best develop your speaking ideas and prepare?
Ideas that are never solidified are never executed. In many ways having a deadline (a WordCamp talk, for example) gives yourself accountability on that passion project of yours. We refer to this as “directional focus.”
From our experiences, the most interesting topics come from lessons learned and experiences completing challenging projects. Even failures can be a good subject for WordCamp presentations and can have a powerful impact on the attendees. What was the problem? How did you solve it? These strategies and tactics help others in the community who, most likely, face the same issues — or will.
Many of us WordPressers were drawn to this community for the professional and daily freedom that it brings in our careers. Whether you’re a digital nomad or a mom who wants to work from home, WordPress can help you accomplish goals inside and outside of your business life.
Open Source encourages collaboration and many freelancers and small agencies meet each other at WordCamp and eventually work on larger projects or Enterprise clients. Speaking about how you onboard clients, experiment with blogging strategies, or integrate Zapier with your plugin will give you visibility. This will increase your likelihood of partnering with others to accomplish business and personal goals.
Speaking Gives Back to the Community
In her WCOC talk in 2015, Chris Ford said her favorite way to contribute to WordPress is by speaking.
“One of the reasons I teach was because of [the Community’s generosity.]” ~ Chris Ford
Regardless of your skill, you have someone to teach and someone to learn from. You may be new or a veteran, but if you’re open to learning, you have something to teach.
So, what’s holding you back from applying to speak? What topics do you think have been missing from WordCamps? What’s your passion? How will you give back?