Issue #13

Welcome to the newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! πŸ˜„

Here’s the deal. I’ll try to be: (1) brief (2) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees. Trying to keep this ad free but I’ve left a spot at the bottom for “misc things”.

Feedback: (1) ping me on Twitter (2) email me (3) i’m going to leave comments open for now for approximately a week on the website posts if you want to leave your own feedback/$0.02.

Thank you!

You can find this issue on the website:

Organizers πŸ˜Š

Looking for unique speaker gifts? You don’t have to wow attendees with expensive and overly complex gifts, especially if you are on a budget. I find that “practical” gifts – or gifts that speakers would actually use at some point – to be the most talked about or appreciated in the long-run. Here are a few ideas that maybe you can think about:

  • A bag (messenger, tote, etc) or backpack, especially one that can be used for tech conferences. Well-built ones get pricey and consider minimize personalizing your brand on it.
  • Headshots! Speakers never have enough (or updated) ones. If you have a professional photographer, have them take a pic of the speaker in front of a nice backdrop and take several good shots of the speaker giving their presentation. This can be very cheap and still useful for the speaker.
  • Backup batteries for phones or WELL BUILT universal multi-adapter cables are potentially useful. Although I have many small phone batteries from conferences – make sure your battery can at charge a modern phone (iPhone 11 say) at least once. Hopefully something people can keep in their bags as they travel to other conferences!
  • Personalized certificate or award (make it cute and creative, or as professional looking as possible). If you can, frame it.
  • Consider something from Fracture.
  • Gift certificates.

Notice that t-shirts was not on this list. πŸ™‚

And of course as a conference hopefully you are covering all possible expenses during the conference for the speakers themselves – such as snacks, dinners, and conference tickets (sadly still a few conferences out there that don’t do this completely).

Some of these ideas might also apply in giving gifts to volunteers or fellow organizers (volunteers usually if anything get something small and inexpensive, but it’s the thought that counts. I’ve given t-shirts or special edition water bottles in the past).

BTW, a number of recent WordCamps look to Barefoot Swag for items. I’ve used over two dozen locations in the past few years and maybe I’ll do a post about them in the near future.

Bonus: Look at this blog post I recently wrote if you ever want to make sure you have enough of the right kind of audio/video/adapter equipment at your conference.

Speakers πŸŽ€

Speakers always tend to underestimate the value of having slides available BEFORE they come up on stage. Every talk is different but consider sharing the slide url on your “cover slide” (the slide that gets shown to the audience before you start your presentation, usually gets at least a few minutes exposure as you get ready to speak).

If they already can download the slides, attendees can follow along with your presentation instead of trying to take notes or pictures of your slides with their phones (this prevents the “don’t worry about taking photos, i’m sharing my slides” statement from speakers too).

Make sure to have slides available to download in multiple formats if that makes sense. I’ve seen slides downloadable as PDF, but also as text, HTML, Keynote (yep, with useful notes). Speaking in a location that heavily favors more than one language (in South Florida or California for example – Spanish)? Then offer a translated version as a downloadable as well.

Attendees πŸ™‹πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Last week I shared my top ten dongles and electronics to take to conferences. I decided to one-up that post almost immediately by writing my “what’s in my bag” WordCamp US edition and listing more then 10 items. These are things that I normally carry as an ORGANIZER or SPEAKER – you shouldn’t be carrying nearly this much as a simple attendee but some backup cables come in handy.

My advice regardless of what you carry with you is when you travel out of state via air travel – keep all your electronics and dongles in clear zip lock bags because it’s easier for Airport security to scan them. Remove the zip lock bags out of your travel bags – even if they aren’t technically “electronic devices larger than a phone”. The security teams at most airports I’ve been at tell me to do this and sometimes have to put my “cable boxes” through the scanners after they take them out of my travel bag.

Misc. Stuff πŸ€·β€β™‚️

These tips were written and/or gathered by David Bisset, someone who’s been helping organizing conferences (such as WordCamp Miami, but others too) and meetups for over a decade. He’s still learning so share any of your tips and it might be included in a future newsletter.

One Comment

Jon Brown November 12, 2019

Solid tips as always.

The other great speaker gift, IMHO, is anything hand made. It doesn’t need to be the kind of thing you can buy 200 from a promotional products company. I think of it as being the kind of stuff one thinks of getting on Etsy. But even better can be something from a local artist/artisan/crafts person.

Personally, I’m over backpacks and messenger bags as gifts. The thing is that most conference goers already have one and for most it’s an arrival that is very personally suited to them. I have a stack of messengers bags and backpacks from conferences and I’ve never once used any of them even once. They’re all low quality and not of a design I’d ever choose. The simple and more generic canvas totes I’ve often gotten as an attendee get used from time to time at a grocery store.

No gift is going to financially compensate a speaker for the time, energy and personal funds they put into volunteering, preparing and attending, so don’t even try. Just like their gift to the WordPress community can’t be measured in money, neither should their thank you gift. A thoughtful token of thanks however goes a long long way.

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