Welcome to the mycamp.rocks newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! 😄
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”.
You can find this issue on the mycamp.rocks website: https://mycamp.rocks/issue-16
Let’s talk about communication within your team. This is particularly difficult at times for new organizers but even seasoned organizers struggle with this particular aspect of their roles often. Let’s start with the ultimate goal for lead organizers when it comes to your organizational team:
What You Want Your Team Members To Feel:
- They are truly included.
- That their feedback matters and they have an opportunity to share that feedback.
- That after sharing there is a fair acknowledgment of feedback – what happens after they share?
- They are on the “same page” and know why/how decisions are being made… and when they aren’t, they know where to look and who to talk to.
In order to accomplish the above, one of the things you need to make sure exists in your organization team is open and transparent communication. This becomes especially apparent in team meetings.
- Make sure all sub-team meetings are open to ALL team members, regardless if they are part of the team or not. For example, when a Sponsor Team has a meeting they should publish the time and call info publicly to the rest of the team. This comes in handy because certain team decisions can effect other teams. For example, Sponsor Team decisions can effect some aspects of what those on the Social Team are doing. Public sub-team meetings also allow people to simply learn more about the process.
- Sub-teams should publish the notes for calls to the entire organizer team after each meeting. This is a great way to keep other team members informed of decisions and procedures without relying on a “all hands on” meeting only for such updates.
- Lead organizers should allow team members to have “team joint meetings” that may or may not require the presence of lead organizers. Without lead organizers at times this allows for some to be more open and frank, while preventing lead organizers from micro-managing.
- Organizers should have an accessible area for all post-team call notes and video recordings (a common Google Drive or Dropbox perhaps). This someone who missed a meeting to catch up. But also allows one to view some history. For example one may want to see when certain procedures or ideas were put into place, in case they want to duplicate it that or improve upon the processes in the future.
What About Private Conversations?
Private conversations, when appropriate, can be shared within the team. But be careful. Determine what should be shared in a timely and proper fashion. Make it clear to all those involved in the private communication what is bring shared, to whom, and to when… it’s important to respect sensitive information and requests of privacy from those sharing. Organizers, especially leads, should especially have a certain level of trust within the group.
Setting The Tone
Simply making communication open and transparent is usually enough and doesn’t require a lot of fanfare. Don’t pressure others to join. Don’t imply that by NOT joining that someone isn’t dedicated or a “team player”. Everyone on the team likely has their own fires burning (so to speak). The point here isn’t to get more people involved (unless it’s vital for your team) but to create a WELCOMING space for those who may want to.
I’ve been asked in the past “I’m part of my team, how do I encourage other teams to be open?”. Best advice I can give is set the example with YOUR team and see if others follow.
In The End
Really what is being suggested is simple. Many organization teams have a big “hands on” call that is inclusive and organized – smaller group conversations within the team should be conducted in a similar manner.
In the end, slow and awkward communication within a team does eventually leak out and show in the conference itself. Any decent attendee knows that things are out of an organizer’s control (mistakes happen). At the same time however more attendees than you think can spot areas or times where something didn’t go to plan or smoothly. Problems that ARE within an organizer’s control OFTEN COMES DOWN TO COMMUNICATION – and this ultimately falls on team leads and lead organizers.
This week’s tip isn’t much about as you as about someone else. When is the last time you encouraged or nominated another to apply for a conference?
Regardless if you have been speaking a while (and honestly have made something of a name for yourself) it’s important to take an honest look at the landscape of your community. Of course, diversity reasons come to mind here… but it’s important to encourage ANYONE regardless of their background, appearance, etc.
This is a no-brainier, but how many times have we looked at a speaker call and thought of OTHER people and not ourselves? Perhaps we can submit speaker applications and mention this to certain others: “I submitted, how about you submitting too? I can help you with the submission if you want, or I’m around for any support.” Others can be encouraged when referrals are also potential speakers.
If you have a particularly well suited individual (maybe their past experience fits perfect with the conference), recommend them to the conference itself. Hopefully the conference makes it easy to identify who is in charge of speaker submissions, but general contacts can pass along recommendations. These need to be handled with care, and expect a response of “awesome! fill out the CFP”, but this is showing that you are thinking of others.
Finally if you have spoken at a conference before, share your experiences and tips publicly and welcome anyone that might be applying to ping you with any questions. The conference organizers love it when previous speakers are supportive of new and diverse speakers possibly applying to their conference. It strengthens the community overall.
You are paying by attending a conference – either in money (unless your work or the conference is covering the cost) or time or both. So it’s important to get the most out of attending such an event. Networking is one of these aspects and even if you are an introvert often it makes sense to use some time to meet people in person, shake hands, and make some introductions. If not for your work, but to be known a bit because you never know how these meetings will work into your future.
So what’s the most efficient way to network at a conference? Not all tips work for everyone, but give some thought to pre-planning. Many conferences including WordCamps post attendee lists (with permission of the attendee) so it should be easy to see who’s coming and then reach out to them on social media or email.
Now, as I say that some eyes are going to roll. I can relate – often when I attend a conference I’m known for going to I tend to get often many emails and pings about “let me talk to you about my product”. Basically sales. Some of these are interesting, some are not. So this isn’t particularly advice if you are looking to make a sale or you are part of a sales team.
That being said, regardless if you are in sales or not, set aside the selling aspect and generally try to meet at least a few new people at a conference (you can do this regardless if you are organization and volunteering too although your time is more limited).
- Make a list of people would like to say hi to. If you can (non-creepy like) ping them before the conference and setup a general location/time, great. Sometimes it’s better to ping someone (casually on Twitter say) right before the event when they have a better idea of their plans.
- Realize that other people are busy. Unless it’s a more relaxed atmosphere (like an after party) or the person seems generally interested, don’t take up that person’s time. Don’t overstay your welcome.
- Good ways to keep things short after a brief conversation: “I have to run… mind if i email or share on social about subject X or just to say hi?”.
Misc. Stuff 🤷♂️
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.