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-5
Run a local meetup? Then I want to share a cool tip based on my experience of over seven years of organizing WordPress meetups in South Florida.
Every month for my local meetup I assemble “The Top 9” which is just 9 slides of what’s happened in the industry (in my case, the WordPress world) since the last meetup the previous month. I usually do it in between talks or in the middle of the meetup to allow people arriving late to see it.
Why? Because our meetup holds a diverse range of beginners to marketers to bloggers (again for WordPress, but think about your meetup and your applicable areas). It’s an INVESTMENT of their time (and money, at least in gas) for people to come to your physical meetup. Some might come for the topics, some might come out of habit or to network. Either way you want people TO WALK AWAY WITH AT LEAST LEARNING ABOUT ONE THING. Even if that “thing” is (in my case) the latest version of WordPress, a plugin, or a theme.
If you consistently bring value – even a small amount – to a meetup, aimed to a least majority of your diverse audience then you’ll tend to have more satisfaction and regular attendees.
Should you try to submit talks on subjects you don’t know much about in the hopes of “forcing to learn” something so you can speak about it? Or should you stick with subjects you are completely comfortable with? I found this conversation on Twitter from Mathias Verraes to prompt me to ponder on this a bit… and realize in one way or another this subject has been discussed by colleagues and those submitting speaker applications to conferences I’ve helped organize.
The answer of course – it depends… on you. It’s a cop out of an answer because everyone is different. Everyone learns at a difference pace and under different conditions.
I can tell you that for me personally I want to make sure to give attendees the most “bang for their buck” whatever that ends up being. Among other things that showing that me – the speaker – has energy, passion, and enthusiasm. For someone that is so familiar with imposter syndrome that it practically has keys to my house, that requires me to be very comfortable about the subject I’m presenting. Could I fake it? Probably. But I wouldn’t want to.
That same passion and energy can also be shown in someone learning something fairly new for the first time. For example, I am VERY eager to share what I’ve learned so far about Gatsby, static site generation, headless WordPress, and using Netlify. I don’t have a DEEP knowledge of these areas just but I believe I could give a talk on them. But for me personally I would prepare slides and responses to questions at the end of my presentation slightly differently, and likely set expectations to the attendees about my experience with what I’m going to talk about.
A successful strategy that I have observed (and I often times follow) is use online conferences or local meetups to test out talks about recently learned subject material. It’s probably not difficult to find one local meetup that would love a guest speaker. See what works and doesn’t work with that talk, and use that to polish your soon-to-follow conference talk.
In the end either way, practice… practice… practice. Very few speakers can “wing it” – you can tell when a speaker (who had time to prepare, not last minute) hasn’t prepared for their talk even if that subject is relatively new. Attendees usually get MORE out of a talk with less information and an effective speaker then they will with a talk FULL of information and sound bites but a speaker that could have delivered it better.
If you are looking for a reduced price (or even free) ticket for a conference, consider volunteering or even help on the organization level. This depends on the conference and the needs, but you would be surprised if you ask what could come out of it.
Many reading this might already know that this is possible with WordCamps. I’m not saying you’ll get into ANY conference that charges WAY more, but it’s worth a shot. If you haven’t volunteered before, WordCamps and other locally run conferences is a good place to start. Like applying for a job, you might need to build your volunteering “resume” to be appealing to larger conferences.
There is a conversation here on Twitter that sparked this thought and it might be worth your time to take a look and see what might apply in your situation.
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.