It had been quite long since I had last spoken at a WordPress meetup. So, when I was approached to speak at WordPress Kathmandu April Meetup 2017, I was more than ready. I mean, speaking at WordPress-related events like this is one of the many ways a WordPresser can give back to WordPress and its community.
Utsav Singh Rathour and I were enlisted as the speakers for the meetup. In consideration of the upcoming WordCamp Kathmandu 2017, this meetup was marketed as “Building Community Speaker Series”. We were to present something that would groom the existing speakers and motivate the aspiring ones. Thanks to our prior experience as speakers, in both national and international events, we were up to the task. I appropriately chose the title, “Speaking at WordCamps? What not to do…” for my presentation whereas, Utsav’s was “Being a Community Speaker”.
I reached half an hour early at Knic Education Foundation, the venue for the meetup, to set things up. Like I said earlier, the title of my presentation was, “Speaking at WordCamps? What not to do…” Consequently, I highlighted 8 things that speakers aren’t supposed to do at a WordCamp. You can check out the slides by clicking here or any of the headings below. But since the slides don’t contain the textual content of my speech, I have explained them here as close to as I did at WordPress Kathmandu April Meetup 2017. They are:
Preparing slides at the last moment
Let’s face it. We always tend to keep things pending until the last moment. To be honest, even I do that sometimes. I surely don’t need to be telling you that it isn’t a good practice. Give yourself enough time, to plan things through. Be very sure about everything, from topic selection to presentation content and mode of delivery.
Write out your speech and try to memorize the key points. I repeat, the Key Points. Don’t try to remember the entire speech, or it’ll seem like you’re reading out. Sometimes, you may forget a word or two and you end up forgetting the rest of the speech. So, try to be natural.
Make sure you practice at least 3 times in front of your friends/co-workers and ask them for their feedback.
Your slides should be clear, crisp and concise. Don’t overload the slide screens with long texts. No one’s going to read it. Show only what’s important, in bullet forms. Try to make it more visual, use images where possible.
Make sure you check your slide Color contrast, font, sizes and typography. It shouldn’t be difficult to read. Make your titles bold and also keep the body text size large. The WordCamp hall is quite big, you see.
If your slides contain any data, make sure you also cite the sources. Not just data, if you’ve included any quotes or information, provide the sources duly. Check your data and get it verified. It isn’t just about ethics, but also about plagiarism. The law demands you to disclose the sources.
WordCamps are educational and not for marketing. No one wants to hear you blabber for 30 minutes about your product. Just because you found out that WordCamps have a lot of people, don’t try to turn a speaking session into a long infomercial. WordCamp is all about giving back to the community. Try to make your talk informative, there should be at least one take away from your talk. So when people go home, they remember at least one thing that you spoke of.
Be yourself. Share your stories and experiences. As a speaker, you’ll need to talk about the things that you know in depth. So you can explain things well. That makes it more relatable and memorable. Don’t pick a topic just because it sounds fancy and you want to impress attendees. If you don’t know the subject matter well enough, you may have to stand there with a blank stare and leaving the questions unanswered. Things will get awkward that way.
Drag Your Speech
We Nepalese tend to overdo things sometimes. But at a WordCamp, your time is limited. So you’ll need to respect that. Don’t take more time than you’re allocated. There are a lot of things going on at a WordCamp and things have to get done on schedule. You don’t want to be the reason of disturbing the schedule, do you? So end on time or early. Never later.
Stick to the topic. Don’t give out too much information. Doesn’t matter if your presentation is short. If it has the important information, it’ll do the trick.
This is really important. Please, do NOT read your slides. You’re speaking to the attendees. So you need to maintain eye contact and create a rapport with your audience.
When you listen to someone speaking in monotone, how long can you listen? It becomes very hard for the audience to take in the meaning of our words. Key messages are lost in a wash of sameness. So, learn to modulate your vocal frequency. Let your voice show your passion for the subject.
Messing with Code of Conduct
When preparing your slides, familiarize yourself with the speaker code of conduct.
Please don’t forget to capitalize the P in WordPress. Every time. It’s a trademark, respect it.
Are you sure you’re not using fauxgos? Use the real WordPress logo. You can find it on https://wordpress.org/about/logos/
WordCamps are open to people from all areas of life, ages, backgrounds, and inclinations. Make sure you keep your presentation G-rated. Try your best not to make jokes that might offend anyone in your audience. Your talk should be friendly and polite and not offend anybody.
If you’re recommending any WordPress products or companies, only do the ones that honor the WordPress trademark and embrace the WordPress license. You can check the License at https://wordpress.org/about/license/ and the Trademark at http://wordpressfoundation.org/trademark-policy/.
That marks the end of my presentation.
Utsav’s talk then followed. He talked about “Being a Community Speaker”. Unfortunately, he lost his flash drive on his way to the venue; the one which contained his slides. Nevertheless, he didn’t let that deter him and gave a very educational talk on the perks of being a community speaker, something he is very passionate about.
He explained that though as a speaker, one might not reap a lot of direct benefits. But the indirect gains are many. For instance, a speaker shares their ideas, stories, and experiences to the mass. When doing that, they are furthering their presence in the community. People who were aloof to them and their works before will be introduced to them. Thus, expanding the reach of their brand. Moreover, business people are always on the lookout for people to work with. The platform provided for a speaker will help meet such potential partners. Also, professionals can meet their potential employers or employees. It is interesting to note that with the completion of every WordPress meetups and WordCamps, the number of hiring professionals and company formations has been increasing.
After the presentations, Shiva Shanker Bhatta, one of the organizers of monthly meetups, initiated the Q&A. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of questions we received. Normally, attendees are quite shy when it comes to asking questions. But the intrigue in those 20 attendees regarding the matter at hand was very palpable. Most questions involved our experiences as speakers in international grounds and a common misconception – only technically advanced topics are to be spoken at a WordCamp – which we gladly answered. When we look at WordCamps, we’ll notice that most of the advanced WordPressers are busy networking. WordCamps are not just for learning WordPress, after all. For experts, it is a platform to gain recognition and meet potential employers and employees. For most parts, it is the aspiring users or beginners who attend the sessions. Hence, speakers should not always feel the need to make their presentation super technical.
All in all, WordPress Kathmandu April Meetup 2017 was a success. I thoroughly enjoyed the session. However, there were a couple of things which I believe could have been better. So, with all due respect to the organizers, I would like to suggest a few things which can improve meetups:
- Preparedness. Firstly, the meetup began 15 minutes late. When I reached there at around 10:30 AM, the organizers were nowhere to be seen. Later, I found out they were busy arranging the necessary equipment. This was the first meetup that I attended which started later than the stipulated time. It seems that the first tip of my presentation seems to appropriate in this case as well. Preparedness is the key.
- Banner and photos. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that there was no banner when we have one designed specifically for meetups. A banner, in this day and age of social media, plays an important role in the promotion of WordPress meetups. When attendees take photos, they’re very likely to take one in front of the banner. When they post them on their social media accounts, their followers will probably try to find out more about the event. Talking more on the topic of photos, I think mobilizing photographers during such events will assure quality photos which then again will come to play for promoting WordPress meetups.
- Live streaming. These days, Facebook live, Instagram live and YouTube live is all the hype. Live streaming meetups can allow people who cannot come to the actual meetup to “attend” it at the comfort of their home or office.
- More college events. I remember the days when we were starting out with WordPress Nepal. Our main source for furtherance was college events. As a matter of fact, they were the most effective way of recruiting new people to the community. We should not do extravagant events or topics. During such events, we can simply educate the students on what WordPress is, what scopes does it have and share a few success stories. That way, we can show them the many possibilities that WordPress can provide. And secure ones at that too.
I am of the opinion that Nepali speakers are capable of so much more. Our lack of preparation is our vice. And, with proper guidance, we can outdo our current level and rub shoulders with the best. I hope the coming WordPress conferences in Nepal, be it meetups or WordCamps, will only continue to get better. And, the Nepali WordPress community will only continue to get bigger.