Issue #4

Welcome to the fourth newsletter! Thank you for continuing to make these a success and for submitting some great feedback.

If you’re new here I try to be: (1) brief (2) target to organizers, speakers, and attendees (might not have tips every week for all three). I haven’t promised anything regarding ads or other content but I’ve left a spot BELOW ALL TIPS 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 😊

This week’s discussion applies to any conference but especially local conferences and meetups: do a pre-survey! Depending on the event itself send a survey out to previous year (or previous meetups) attendees to get feedback on past event but more importantly what interests them. Even if you are doing a WordCamp, it’s important to know what your local community is interested in – the various niches and some subjects you might not even be aware of! 

There’s no rule or law that says a survey results dictate the schedule or format of a conference, but it does add some valuable pre-data. Questions to ask on such a “pre survey”:

  • What kind of attendee they are (for example, developer? break it down to types of developers perhaps).
  • Their experience or how many years using a product or how many years “in the industry” (how long have they been using WordPress, PHP, in the education sector, etc.)
  • Are they local or out of town (put a “Rather Not Say” in there as an option)
  • What talk topics/subjects would they be interested in (what would have them come to the conference)
  • Would they be willing to volunteer, help organize, or help spread the word (never too early to get a list of people for this)
  • Would they have accessibility needs (good to know, also gives you things to ask the potential venue)
  • Some conferences and meetups like to know what days/times are convenient for the survey group (meetups try to meet on days where most can attend)
  • Food preference (this is something you can ask upon registration but for meetups it’s nice to know more in advance due to quick turnarounds and limited budgets)
  • Other communities and meetups they attend (helps you get a general view on the depth of your audience)
  • Sometimes surveys can optionally ask for a person’s organization/company

Speakers 🎤

Very often attendees have questions and want to continue the conversation after your talk. Some conferences provide a brief “Q&A” session in your talk time. But sometimes that isn’t enough time. You need more time, but you also want to be considerate to the organizers and the next speaker that might be anxious to get on stage.

Some conferences provide a speaker or “conversations” room for this purpose. At the end of your talk or presentation, state that anyone wanting to follow up in person can do so in this room after your talk. I typically like to make this known BEFORE a “Q&A” session so people won’t be anxious to try to get their question in. Some questions should likely not take up the time of the entire audience anyway (I’ll share more about accepting and answering attendee questions in a future newsletter).

If you are attending a WordCamp, ask the organizers is the Happiness Bar can be used for such purposes (and you by asking would remind the organizers that such a room would be great to have post-talk conversations).

Of course if you are the last talk of the day, this tip doesn’t help too much but you can always set a time/location in person to take further questions (“see me at the after party”).

Attendees 🙋🏽‍♀️

Conferences and speakers usually love it when you tweet during the event. Sometimes I personally live tweet (conferences in person are more difficult for me then watching a live stream) so here’s some of the things I’ve learned (maybe a helpful tidbit in here?).

  • If you are tweeting about a speaker, a good photo of them usually makes the tweet nice. But instead of taking a single photo and typing and submitting… and repeating the process again… I take multiple shots of the speaker in slightly different poses (arm up, face turned, smiling, etc.) and store those up. Later I can just focus on writing or sharing and attach a stored up photo. Most of the time the exact time of the photo doesn’t make a lint of difference.
  • Try an animated GIF instead of a photo, especially if it’s a nice moment during the talk. Burstio on iOS is my “takes photo bursts and turned them into GIFs” tool of choice.
  • Try to be considerate to other attendees as you type or take photos during the conference. Distracting the speaker is the ultimate no-no in my mind.
  • Remember to use the correct hashtag, and don’t overload your tweets with hashtags especially if you tweet a lot. The more hashtags, the more moderate Twitter users ignore the tweets (like “ad blindness” for those who have lived with banner ads on websites for years).
  • Finally, with Twitter you can set when a tweet is published (via TweetDeck at least, I’m sure there are other ways). To lesson the tweets you want to do on-site write a few ahead of time (such as a thank you tweet) and set the time to publish. One less thing to write while you are “on the road”.

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.