This weekend gave me the occasion to add two new activities to my “Done” list: It was both my first volunteering experience and my first speaker gig at a WordCamp. I’d like to collect some of my experiences here, mostly for myself to not let them fade away with time.
I had dragged my wife Carole along to WordCamp Europe in Vienna this year, as the city is beautiful, and we prolonged our stay for it to be half-WordCamp, half-QualityTime. She was very anxious about it and expected to be surrounded by nerds making binary jokes and exclusively talking about source code. No matter how often I assured her that WordCamps are not just about web development, she couldn’t imagine how she would fit in with the crowd she imagined to be there.
As it turns out, she actually fell in love with the community during these few days and, once we were back at home, she immediately started looking for other WordCamps to relive that “energizing and inspiring” experience. That’s when we decided to apply as volunteers together. The first WordCamp that was available for us to apply as volunteers was WordCamp Frankfurt.
I took over some slots to manage one of the auditoriums, while my wife helped take care of the hello station. As our dog-sitter had to cancel at short notice, we even took along three additional volunteers, our dogs Jasper, Duke and Indra, who took care of the general happiness of the attendees.
Volunteering is a sure-fire way of immediately getting to know great people investing time in doing great stuff. And, if you want to participate in such an event, but are not of the networking type, just apply as a volunteer. You won’t need to go through any extra efforts to meet new people, and you will have specific tasks that give a purpose to your presence. If you still hesitate, just go for it! I promise you won’t regret it.Volunteering is a sure-fire way of getting to know great people investing time in doing great stuff. Click To Tweet
I had also submitted a proposal as a speaker. My session was called: “The Secret Of Writing Reusable Code“, and is a more streamlined version of the series of blog posts about Config files I have been doing on this site.
I had trouble putting my thoughts into tiny slides, and couldn’t think of meaningful code examples that would fit the format. I had planned on doing a lot of rehearsing to make sure I don’t stumble over the language barrier, as writing a foreign language is nothing compared to speaking it fluently under pressure. In the end, I did not do any rehearsing at all due to becoming frustrated with the slide-writing process, and I just decided to wing it once I’m in front of the audience.
I did have a bit of trouble starting the talk, but once I managed to get into the flow, I think it all turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. I started to actually enjoy being able to talk about concepts I am passionate about to an interested (hopefully) audience.
Some of the feedback I got from the (German) audience:
Here are the slides for the talk. In case you couldn’t attend the session, I would recommend waiting for the WordPress.TV video to be published, though. The slides will probably not be very clear in isolation. I will update this post to link to the video as soon as it is available.
UPDATE: Here’s the recorded video of the presentation. It seems to confirm that I really did have trouble getting into the presentation in the beginning. Oh well… maybe next time I’ll manage to prepare and rehearse as well.
Call To Action
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