I recently convinced a Very Smart Woman to give her first WordCamp talk. What’s a little unique about this circumstance is that it’s also the first WordCamp she’s ever attended. This means she has no frame of reference for what to expect, so she asked me a bunch of questions. It thought it could be useful to grab that perspective and speak to it for posterity. So here is a random collection of things you should know about your first WordCamp talk.

  • There will be a projector you can plug your computer into and it will display on a big screen.
  • You can use any software you want to make your presentation. Keynote, Google slides, PowerPoint, whatever.
  • You don’t have to have a digital component to your talk if you don’t want to.
  • The projector could have a connection type your laptop doesn’t support. A brand new mac supports only USB-C. Many older projectors have only VGA or HDMI. I recommend investing in a converter that fits your laptop.  So if your laptop does DisplayPort and the projector is HDMI, you might want a converter like this.  That said, the majority of the time there’s a converter onsite for you to borrow, whether from the venue or another speaker. Don’t count on it, buy converters when you can afford them, but don’t avoid speaking just because you don’t have a converter.
  • There will be someone within your view that will hold signs up when you’re near the end of your speaking time. You’ll see a 10 minute sign and a 5 minute sign.  Sometimes this person will also introduce you at the beginning of your talk, sometimes not. It can always be your choice though.
  • You should end your talk about 10 minutes before the deadline so there’s time for questions.
  • If you don’t have time for all the questions, announce that you’ll be at the Happiness Bar right after your talk. The Happiness Bar is a place for people to get help and ask questions.  You can hang out there for however long you want answering questions.
  • People are encouraged to walk out of a talk if they discover it’s not suited to them. Don’t take this personally. If your talk really isn’t for them then they need to not waste that time wishing they were in another talk.
  • If someone asks a “question” that’s “more of a comment really”, feel free to interrupt and tell them this is a time for questions, and they could meet you at the happiness bar later if they want. This is YOUR talk, don’t let someone hijack it and make it into what they think it should be. The same holds true of anyone taking control from you. Be strong. YOU are the expert at the front of the room.
  • At some point in your speaking career someone is going to attend your talk that you think is WAY smarter/more knowledgeable/better coder than you or whatever. Don’t worry about it. They’ll still learn something from you, I promise. They attended because they want to hear what you have to say.
  • There’s often a speaker/sponsor dinner/soiree the night before WordCamp. This is usually similar to the after party, but with FAR fewer people. I strongly recommend you attend. They have experience to share, and soon you will too.
  • Speakers usually get a free ticket to WordCamp, so I recommend not buying one until after you find out if you’ve been accepted.

I can’t think of more right now, but I’m sure there are many. Please leave extra tips in the comments below.

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