I studied Informatics, but we had several Economics classes as well during the first year. My professor was a Deputy Minister of Economic Development – a bright, wise, experienced industry professional who taught us a lot.
During the very first lecture, he said:
While pursuing a professional degree, you become public personas. Being able to express your thoughts and communicate with various audiences is mandatory. You represent the society and the future of the nation is dependent on clear and concise discussions and conversations with different parties.
That really sunk in, and I truly enjoyed the experience, having led technical training classes already.
In the age of personal branding, an industry expert should always try to improve professionally. Building a portfolio, creating a professional network, and engaging in influential activities are important for career growth and expanding one’s horizons.
Speaking at WordCamps may be a good branding exercise as someone involved in the WordPress community. Most WordCamps gather various profiles together – developers and designers, business owners, reps at hosting companies, product teams, bloggers.
WordCamp organizers often have a hard time gathering a good pool of speakers. I’ve co-organized local WordCamps several times and participated in the speakers selection for WordCamp Europe two years in a row.
From my experience, local events get less exposure and fewer suitable applicants – even though they often gather 300–400 people together. If there are two tracks of speakers in a single day, that makes 14–16 available speaker slots on average.
A WordCamp may receive 30–50 applications while the majority of those may not be quite suitable. Some applicants are outright self-promotional. Many lack speaking expertise or involvement in local meetups or communities.
There’s also an overlap with topic suggestions. WordCamps generally strive for some form of diversity – topics for different audiences, as well as covering the latest and greatest happening in the WordPress ecosystem.
If you’re actively involved in the WordPress world and have a great case study (or a professional tutorial) to share, definitely apply. The first talk or two may be challenging for you – but you’ll get used to them with time. Videos are generally uploaded on WordPress.tv and you can share them as training materials with colleagues or mentees.
It’s also a great way to support the WordPress community itself. Giving back is important since WordPress is a free software application that allows millions of people to earn a living.