Thoughts On My Second WordCamp Ever: WordCamp Raleigh 2013

Thoughts On My Second WordCamp Ever: WordCamp Raleigh 2013

This weekend I had the privilege of attending WordCamp Raleigh to speak for 60 minutes (much longer than my previous 5!) on the “terminal optimization” process.

It actually meant returning to my Alma Mater (can I say that if I dropped out?) NC State to hang out on the engineering campus and mess with the projection system and microphones to say words to people. I got to meet a lot of fun people, who are entirely different from the fun people I met in Portland, and I was really excited about the array of women, especially women of color, who came to learn more about web development.

The potential WordPress has to change lives and give people fun and exciting things to learn and network about is amazing. And it’s nice to see it in my hometown! I definitely plan on returning, and hopefully speaking again. (But maybe next time instead of fancy Italian food I can’t pronounce they’ll buy the speakers hotwings and beer.)

A few thoughts…

Recap 1: The Singular Boring Presentation

I actually wasn’t going to post this, but then I saw a wonderful post on WordCamp Professionalism and I realized that maybe this kind of feedback is important for organizers and hopeful speakers alike. It’s important to note that the presenter I’m mentioning here was doing a different session than the presenter talked about in the “WordCamp Professionalism” blog post.

There was a presentation immediately after lunch that was a lot like sitting through school again. The main problem wasn’t a lack of actionable resources, but that they were presented in a weird “show & tell” hodgepodge of randomly Googled themes and plugins that the presenter didn’t appear to familiar with. Instead of the confidence of other presenters (All in One SEO! Choose Headway! GoDaddy is weird amiright?!) it was just the sort of things a beginner might come across: the resources could be good but he wasn’t 100% on them.

When it comes to presenting, people are going to be running through some obvious pre-sales questions in their heads…

  • WHY should I be using these themes?
  • What ADVANTAGES do these plugins have over others?
  • HOW can this improve my website with ease?

“Research” doesn’t mean you Googled some plugins. “Research” means you’re bringing your months/years of experience to us to help us move forward without spending that same amount of time.

I’m not discouraging anyone brave enough to present for the first time, or at all. I’m just saying make sure you focus on your strengths and have confidence when you do.

Am I Headway Themes freakazoid? Of course. But hey, at least I’m confident about it. And so was the dude who prefers StudioPress. And we ate lunch and I threw things at him because if you have enemies you should crush them.

That is a joke about a thing I said while presenting, I didn’t actually hurt anyone.

Recap 2: The Single Best Presentation (Next to Mine, Obvs)

I GOT FREE BEER. The lesson here is to be fun and interact with your audience. Building websites is a pretty boring thing to people who are just getting started or only thinking about getting started, so creating a fun, interactive, fascinating experience like Alisa Herr did was amazing and inspiring.

I am not just saying that because she gave me free beer. I earned that beer by having used WordPress since I was 12. My younger self earned me beer. Terminal Optimization, yo.

Recap 3: Talk to People

If you know me, you know I’m disturbingly awkward. But I’m not actually an introvert, so I put on my public face and stowed away my F-bombs and did my best to converse with the attendees. And guess what? Your target market could be walking around in droves at WordCamp. It was awesome. I mostly hung out with the new/intermediate users to see what it was like from their perspective, and I have so many ideas.

I can’t share any of those ideas with you right now, because I’m busy working them into posts and products. But maybe if you went to a WordCamp you could gather your own ideas. Like gardening. Or stalking. Depends on your approach.

My point is, if you go to a WordCamp (or other camps of that kind), particpate. Shake hands. Bring purell there are so, so many hands.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy WordCamp!

  • Charlie Sasser

    Well somehow I missed the free beer. This was my first Word Camp and I thought it was awesome. Your presentation was by far the most interesting and well thought out and delivered that I attended. That is why I intend to show some or all of your slides to our WP Meetup group in Greenville, SC, next week.

    There were a few things that did surprise me at Word Camp:

    1) One of the presenter talked primarily about his own product. It reminded me of a situation in my younger days when I went to a similar user event and each attendee was give a cricket clicker and told if any presenter started talking about his/her own product that it was ok to “click” them. I few presenters got so many clicks they gave up.

    2) The other thing that surprise me was the number of “senior” people like myself that were attending in hopes of starting something to do for their “retirement plan”.

    Can’t wait until my next Word Camp. Maybe Charleston or Asheville.