Over the weekend, I watched some of Wordsesh 4. Weekends are a tough time for me to find any time to do work or anything work related, but there was one session, in particular, I was interested in. It was the one David Bisset did called, “WordCamp Things.” David has a ton of experience when it comes to organizing WordCamps and has had a hand in organizing Miami, in some capacity, for the past eight years. Eight years organizing an event that is 100% volunteer driven? That’s crazy talk right there. And yet, not only has he done it, but he’s had something to do with Miami being one of the premier WordCamps in the United States. With somewhere in the vicinity of 800 attendees each year, I’d say he knows what he’s talking about.
One of the points David made in his session was that organizers need to think a little bit outside of the box when it comes to WordCamps. Having personally been to somewhere between 40 and 50 camps myself, I can definitely see what he’s getting at. The format of 30 to 40 minutes sessions with a few minutes break between is great for many, but not necessarily ideal for others. A 40 minute session can be too long for some topics, yet too short (WAY too short) for others. I know that for my presentations, I tend to make them so that they have one or two take-aways for every member in the audience, but nothing is covered in depth or comprehensively. So it got me to thinking . . .
What if we had a track where the presentations went a bit longer? What if some of those longer sessions were actually sessions and maybe throw in a workshop or two in there. It was the beginning of an idea. It isn’t necessarily THAT far outside of the box from what most of us know at a WordCamp (and don’t get me wrong, others have done the workshop idea with great success). So, people will still feel like they’re with an old familiar friend, but it’s enough different that it won’t feel completely the same.
I took what was the beginning of this idea to the organizing team and they ran with it, built upon it, and made it better. When you have an awesome team, that’s what happens. The concept turned into having a couple of “intro” classes on Saturday which would prep you for some longer classes on Sunday. In other words, by the time you leave on Sunday, we want you to have a really good basis or understanding of ways to enhance your business and take your skills to the next level, whatever they may be.
This is not a complete change of format from our typical WordCamp. We will still have plenty of the standard sessions to feed your appetites. We will still have our “Hallway Track” which is a fantastic opportunity to meet, socialize and network with others and yes, of course, we will still have the bacon bar for which WordCamp Miwlaukee has become famous. Our goal is simply to have you leave with a head full of knowledge that goes a bit beyond surface level.
So, with all that said, we’ve decided to extend speaker/presenter applications for another 48 hours. If you’re a speaker and would like to get in on some of this type of action, let us know! We’ll be making our selections later this week and should have announcements up by the weekend. Applications will be closed Thursday morning, about the time I get up and in front of my computer (that’s about 8:00 am CST if you’re wondering what that means), so get ’em in while you can!