“Congratulations! You have been selected as a speaker at WordCamp Europe 2019 in Berlin, Germany!”
When seeing these words flash on the screen of my email client, I smiled a wide smile. OK, I confess, I might’ve shrieked and done a little dance around the office. With people watching. Not one of my proudest, but definitely one of the happiest moments of 2019.
This happiness was eclipsed by the actual experience of being at WordCamp Europe and meeting with the global WordPress community. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
Hosting a workshop at WordCamp Europe 2019
I got selected to host a workshop on content marketing planning – I topic I’m passionate about that felt like a great fit
In the end, there were more than 40 people in the hall that was filled up to the brim. Lucky me!
- audience research and persona development,
- topic research and content auditing,
- channel and format selection,
- and content calendar planning.
There was an exercise part after each section, alternating between learning and doing mode which kept the energy high. I felt like people were learning a lot and we were having fun, which are the two outcomes I was aiming for. I’ll be lying if I say I wasn’t nervous as hell at the start, but jumping into presentation mode relaxes me and the participants were so kind they quickly put me at ease.
I admit I cheated a bit. I got some chocolates and gave them to everyone willing to share their exercise answers. Chocolate makes people happy and that’s a universal truth every workshop host learns early on. Use it to your advantage
All throughout the next two conference days, I got stopped in the hallways by people who took part in the workshop to ask follow-up questions or just say they enjoyed it. Which makes this a two-fold success. First off, the workshop was better than I had hoped for. Second, I got a chance to meet a bunch of people and learn more about their work and their needs. Which is what connecting with peers at events is all about.
My slides and handout
I am not sure if the slides from the workshop are self-explanatory enough, but if you feel curious you’ll find them here, together with the handout I gave to participants – feel free to copy and use for your content planning process.
My top choice talks
The benefit of hosting a workshop in the morning of the first conference day is that afterward you can just be a regular attendee and see lots more of what the program has to offer.
There were more than 3200 tickets sold for the event and this will give you a good idea of how diverse the audience must be in terms of background and knowledge. I felt that the organizers did a good job to include both introductory talks and more advanced content.
An example of the latter was the presentation of Aleyda Solis on mobile-first SEO. I actually had to go through the slide after the event to get everything. Here’s the deck, give it a leaf-through!
Another talk I’d highly recommend was focused on content repurposing and done by Yvette Sonneveld. It was a presentation with a great structure that gave us a lot of ideas – and some I’m already applying for some of my clients. There’s a great recap post on the topic on Level Level’s blog which you can go through while waiting for the video recording to come out
There was obviously a bunch of stuff I couldn’t get to, but thanks to Twitter, I knew what I was missing. The WCEU hashtag was ablaze with positive comments after Rob Hope’s talk on conversion optimization, so I gave it a watch after and it didn’t disappoint. Here’s the video – and a blog format of the talk if you prefer to read rather than listen.
And sometimes the most amazing talks you hear are the ones that don’t teach you any professional skills. The ones that motivate you because they show why you got into all of this in the first place. And this was Marcel Bootsman‘s story of going to WCEU by foot. I won’t retell everything, as it’s all detailed in his blog. But I’ll tell you to check out DonateWC and see how you can help people in the WordPress community to travel and contribute to WordCamps.
The story of Marcel was so moving because he’s not looking for anything in return and he did what he did because he feels strongly connected to all other WordPress-ers. And that’s just the most important point about WordCamps I can ever make or you’ll ever need to hear. The events and the community are all about human connection and having a shared identity.
It’s the people. Every single time!
I’ve attended my fair share of conferences – as a guest, as a speaker, as an organizer. And I’ve never seen a community so tightly knit together, so kind and so ready to help
I went to Berlin on my own and ever since setting foot at Schönefeld airport, I didn’t feel on my own. You just check Twitter and find a crowd having dinner somewhere in town. And these are not people you necessarily know from other WordCamps – it’s people you meet for the first time who act like you already know each other. Because you clearly have something in common.
I spent the whole week with people who I either have never met or have seen for a couple of hours 2 years ago.
And it felt awesome!
This revelation comes with all the gravitas of a closeted introvert. I often joke that I speak at conferences because I’m too shy to go and introduce myself. But being at WordCamp makes connecting with strangers easier.
I met the most awesome people and I spent time with friends I had never had enough time for before. We chilled and worked and laughed and danced and ate döners at 4 AM. And people were cool and considerate and always making sure you feel at home – because that’s what makes sense.
This is not the grand effect that the Code of Conduct puts on WordCamp attendees. It’s just a by-product of smart and empathetic people being put in the same place – niceness and fun bubble up naturally. Because it’s the people – every single time!
So if you have a chance to meet some of them – do it. Look for a WordCamp, local or regional, close to you. And we just might see each other there!