5 Tips on Applying to Speak at WordCamp

Joe Simpson speaking at a WordCamp, gesturing.

So you’re thinking of submitting a topic at an upcoming WordCamp? I’m often encouraging our Meetup members or other dynamic speakers to speak and share their gifts with the WordPress Community. As we approach the opening of our Call for Speakers at WordCamp Santa Clarita, I wanted to share tips on applying for consideration that helped me present at WordCamps across the country that may help you.

1. Be passionate and knowledgable about your topic(s)

WordCamps offer a wide variety of topics (advanced development, accessibility, design, SEO, how to use WordPress for beginners) for attendees so you’ll need to decide what you’ll speak about. My first presentation was a life event that catapulted me back into WordPress, a Community that I’d known to be incredibly welcoming and encouraging to learning and growing.

Being passionate about a topic often shows, connecting you with your audience and creating a compelling event experience.

2. Speak at your local Meetup

Local WordCamps offer you an opportunity to speak about your topic to a live audience which is beneficial to everyone involved through mentorship. The organizing team benefits by seeing you in action and can provide feedback that can improve your pitch for the upcoming Call for Speakers. It allows new or experienced speakers an opportunity to complete their presentation in advance, practice it, and refine the material which helps you.

WordPress Santa Clarita Valley Meetup Presentation. Image courtesy of Chris Aldrich, boffosocko.com

3. If at first, you don’t succeed try, try again

Sometimes, your topic will not be chosen for a WordCamp event but don’t give up. Each WordCamp reflects the WordPress Community and the needs of their members want to see at their event and you may not be a perfect fit. For example, I’ve seen WordCamps that only wanted advanced developer or Gutenberg topics whereas others are open to all topics.

Like baseball where players are considered superstars if they reach base one-third of the time, know that for each acceptance, you’ll receive a rejection email. Rejection is difficult but I make a point to reach out to the organizers thanking them, try to get tips on how I can improve my pitch, and reapply next year.

4. Submit an intriguing presentation pitch during the Call for Speakers

Think of your pitch as an elevator speech – be able to explain your idea as quickly, simply, with the maximum impact in the fewest words possible. I’ve presented at two of the biggest WordCamps in the US and one of the organizers mentioned that even though it was my second time speaking in the WordPress space, my cleverly worded pitch intrigued them and made them want to hear more.

5. Get perspective on your topic from WordPress.tv

WordPress.tv website with a highlight on the search box being used.

Research a topic using the search on WordPress.tv or the official WordPress channel on YouTube.com to get an idea of the type of speech you’re thinking of pitching. For example, if your thinking of speaking on Gutenberg Blocks, enter the term ‘Gutenberg’ and click search. Take it one step further by looking at what topics were offered at the local WordCamp you’re applying to speak at as well.

I’d love to hear your ideas. The Call for Speakers at WordCamp Santa Clarita this spring opens soon.

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