Speaker Virgins Welcome

I’ve run into a few WordPress and back-end developers lately with years of experience. But when asked, they haven’t given much thought to speaking at meetups or WordCamps. Reasons seem to be varied – the thought hasn’t crossed their mind or they were naturally a little shy (at least when it comes to public speaking) were reasons. But universally the “what i know most others already know” seemed to be a recurring theme.

When it comes to speaking at conferences, meetups, and similar events – but ESPECIALLY at WordCamps – you should never hold back if you have something to teach and communicate to others. Even if you think what you have to say is “too basic” for the audience. I stumped upon this quote from Laura Kalbag as I was reading Rebecca Murphey’s javascript post:

The point I’m trying to make is that we shouldn’t be fearful of writing about what we know. Even if you write from the most basic point of view, about something which has been ‘around for ages’, you’ll likely be saying something new to someone. They might be new to the industry, you might just be filling in the holes in someone’s knowledge.

When we look at a lineup at a WordCamp or conference, sometimes we can intimidated a bit when we see household names (or at least household names for our industry). That’s wrong. Experienced speakers are fine but (in the case of WordCamps) there are many (and in many cases a majority) of beginners or experienced developers that haven’t heard what you have to say. Or worse have forgotten it.

WordCamp Miami has opened speaker submissions for 2013. While there are guidelines to speaking at these events, the guidelines say nothing about your experience and what you should share. Even if you aren’t selected to speak, it won’t be for these reasons. WordCamp Miami loves speaker virgins. 🙂 In the past, some of the best sessions i’ve attended have been given by first-time conference (or WordCamp) speakers.

Best advice for speaker virgins applying for WordCamps (Miami or otherwise): get over the fear and take your best shot. Start with smaller meetups (even if you have more confidence than some) and go from there. Speaking in smaller groups allows you to be more comfortable with an audience with you learning the best way to talk, gesture, move around, etc. It can also allow you to know when you are losing your audience.

Ever year WordCamp Miami has at least a few speaker virgins, and in 2013 we hope again to be able to bestow the privilege of having WordCamp Miami be the first step toward a rewarding and self-gratifying path toward speaking and sharing your knowledge with others.