My first foray into WordCamp speaking

The genesis of my decision to speak at WordCamp Waukesha 2017

I have long enjoyed getting up in front of a group, no matter its size, to speak, teach, lecture, facilitate, or any other activity that involves me leading a discussion. Perhaps this is in my DNA, being the son of two schoolteachers, but it is something I did not discover I liked — and was decent at — until my early 30s.

I have had several chances to speak in front of corporate and nonprofit groups in the four years since I founded Why The Fuss? Technical Solutions, but had never gathered the stones to apply to speak at a WordCamp. (For the uninitiated, WordCamps are conferences/meetups centered around WordPress that are held in various locations around the world.)

My excuses for not doing so were weak: No ideas on what to talk about, no time to create and tweak slides and speaker notes, a fear that no one would want to hear whatever it was I would talk about, etc. So when I saw in late 2016 that there was a WordCamp planned in Waukesha, Wis. (suburban Milwaukee) in January 2017, I decided it was time to throw my hat into the speaker ring.

WordCamp Waukesha 2017 logo
The WordCamp Waukesha logo was in the shape of a guitar pick in honor of Waukesha native Les Paul.

And, to be honest, it went pretty well. It felt a bit weird getting up to speak about a non-WordPress topic at a WordCamp, but this event was focused on both WP and marketing tips and tools for small-business owners. I think there ended up being about a 70/30 split in non-WP subjects to WP subjects,  which again, was strange but it worked.

When I submitted my talk, I thought it would be a smaller event, perhaps 20-25 people watching my presentation. WRONG! Boy was I surprised to hear upon arrival that morning that nearly 200 tickets had been sold. Not only that, there were just two simultaneous tracks, meaning that I’d probably have 80-100 in the room for my talk.

No sweat. The one thing that I always have in the back on my mind when going into any public-speaking situation is that it matters little if there are 2 or 2,000 people sitting there; you have to be able to engage them for however long your slot is.

I think I was able to accomplish that goal. While it was far from a flawless presentation and, as I stated in the beginning, I am not a branding expert but just a guy with some experience who has made some mistakes and learned some valuable lessons.

All in all it was a great experience. On top of being a speaker, I also got to catch up with some people I had not seen in a while, and also make some new friends and acquaintances. If nothing else, the experience emboldened me to do it again sometime, maybe even in a land far, far away. Time shall tell, I suppose.

Presentation video + slides

If you are interested in viewing my presentation video and/or slides, use the link below to visit my post on the WTF site.

WordCamp Waukesha 2017 Presentation Slides