Why You Should Speak if You’re Not a Developer or a Professional Speaker


Photo Credit: Shanta Nathwani Location: Speaker Sponsor Dinner – Marc’s House

Ya, that’s me. No, this is not a self-serving post about me speaking at a WordCamp. It’s just the only photo I have of anything from a previous WordCamp Milwaukee that has anything to do with the subject (I promise we’ll get more pictures of NOT ME this year).

Instead, I wanted to write a bit about the kind of people we’re looking for to speak and the misconceptions that seem to go with a WordCamp. As someone who’s been to a wazillion or so WordCamps, I know I’ve seen this as a common occurrence. It’s that people, many times, think that the only way they can apply to speak is if they are, or have been:

  • WordPress Developer
  • Active member of the WordPress Community for an extended period of time
  • Experienced public speaker
  • Asked to speak by one of the organizers
  • A sponsor
  • Probably a lot of other things I have not thought of

The reality is that this is not the case. We mean it when we say that WordCamps are an INFORMAL event where people come to share their ideas, learn, network and socialize. So, the reality is that if you have ANY sort of experience you want to share that has to do with running a business, being an entrepreneur, marketing, or anything that could be useful to others, I encourage you to apply to speak. We’ve had some REALLY interesting applications come in already from people of varying backgrounds, with some of the most original topics I’ve seen in a while at a WordCamp.

So, whether you live inside or outside of the “box,” and wish to give to the Community, I highly recommend that you give it a shot! There is no better way to get public speaking experience because the environment is so casual. And if you’re looking for topic ideas, I’ll give you just a few general non-dev-centric ideas here (but this is definitely not an extensive, or all-inclusive list). Maybe others will chime in in the comments with ideas of things they’d like to see as well!

  • Horror Stories: Everyone loves a good horror story. Whether it’s one you have to tell about an epic failure on the development side, or a time where you fell flat on your face with a business decision, let us know! Case studies are always fascinating because they talk about the problem and then about the take-aways/learning experiences gained from the “failure” which ended up positively impact a decision making process down the road.
  • Marketing Techniques: Every business owner is always looking for ways to get their product into the hands of customers. What marketing techniques have you used, whether inside or outside of WordPress to help you become successful?
  • Business Strategies: What are the strategies that you use to run your business from an operational standpoint? What process did you go through to come up with these strategies? What’s worked, and what hasn’t? Why?
  • Content Strategies: What are they? How do you organize your content? What is the purpose of your content? How have your strategies changed over time? What factors affected their evolution?
  • SEO Strategies: Similar to Content Strategies. How have things changed? Where are things going? Is SEO as complicated as people make it out to be? Why do people think it’s snake oil sales? How do you know if your strategy is working?

I’ve seen applications come in from people who are not even within the WordPress Community and I’ve found the topics to be fascinating and seen how they can be applied. So, don’t be shy! We welcome all to apply! And while we make no guarantees that you’ll be selected, we can guarantee that we will give every application our full attention!

If you’re looking for the speaker app, you can find it here.