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Expectations for speakers and organizers of WordCamps


The purpose of this document is to start a discussion that leads to better expectations between speakers and organizers of WordCamps. It is based on Open Conference Expectations by @rmurphey @divya and @paul_irish. It is based on my experience speaking at many WordCamps and seeing some great things and not great things. I would love your comments and feedback.

What I ask for as a speaker

  1. A complimentary ticket to the event.
  2. A code of conduct for every attendee, including speakers and sponsors. Everyone should be able to have a good time in a safe, harassment-free environment. See the The Ada Initiative for more information on how to create such a policy.
  3. Adequate amount of time to prepare. This means the call for speakers should occur at least sixty days before the camp and invitations at least thirty days before the camp.
  4. An information email at least one week and ideally two weeks ahead of time that let's me know anything about the venue that might help me give a better presentation. This includes the size of the room, the setup of the room and A/V information about the room. This includes the adapters for projectors. If projectors are not mentioned, I should assume that I will need to bring adapters to VGA. This should also include the exact amount of time for the speaker's slot.
  5. Potable Water to drink. If your tap water isn't any good, please have some bottled water available.
  6. Feedback on my title and description in order to give the attendees an accurate idea of what to expect
  7. That the organizer will provide a day of contact. As a speaker I should have there phone number.

What would be nice to have as a speaker

  1. A speakers room where I can put my bag if I arrive directly at the event from traveling and prepare outside of public areas. This room should have a trusted person watching it the entire time.
  2. A speaker Dinner/Brunch/Happy Hour so I can socialize with a smaller group of people. Some of the best ideas for future talks that I have had came from talking to other speakers.
  3. Adapters for A/V equipment
  4. Assistance from the organizer in finding a topic. The organizer can provide information about topics already chosen, and ideas that they might want covered. The organizer could also include a list in the call for speakers of broad topic areas.

What you should expect of me as a speaker

  1. I will deliver a quality presentation. I will speak clearly, not too fast and not too slow. I'll use visuals (slides, live demo, a chalkboard) to enhance my talk whenever applicable.
  2. I will make myself available to the audience. The attendees are the most important people at a WordCamp.
  3. I consent to my speech being recorded and distributed under a permissive license.
  4. I will make reasonable adjustments to help the camp be successful. I won't bitch and moan if my talk needs to be moved because of another speaker's schedule.
  5. I will provide an accurate title and description so that attendees can have a good idea of what they should expect
  6. That I will seek feedback before my talk from relevant other experts
  7. That I will practice my presentation in front of someone else before I deliver it.
  8. I will share my slides / examples very soon after my presentation. Ideally the same day as the presentation.
  9. That I will be prepared to present without wifi. The organizer should communicate what they expect the wifi to be like, but as a speaker I should be prepeared to present without it.
  10. That I will provide the organizer with day of contact information. Ideally this will be a cell phone.
  11. That If I am travlling, I will book my travel appropriately. Flights get delayed, trains get cancled, and roads get closed down. I should plan for the possibility of my travel being interupted.
  12. That I will arrive at the venue in advance of my talk ready to present. I won't walk in momemnts before my talk looking desheveled.

What would be nice to have as an organizer from the speaker

  1. Help with promoting the event The speaker should tweet links to the event, include an "I'm speaking" badge on there blog and otherwise encourage people to sign up to attend the event.

I would add that as an organizer, I expect speakers to help promote the event through their social channels


aaronjorbin commented Oct 26, 2012

Thanks @vegasgeek.

I think that might belong in another section perhaps titled "What I will try to do for the event as a speaker" and be broader, perhaps along the lines of I will help promote the event. This might include sharing information about the event through social channels, writing a blog post on the event site, or

My rationale for not including it in the expectations is that not everyone uses social channels or they might use them for other reasons. I know people that keep professional stuff off Twitter or Facebook for various reasons.

What do you think of that?

A "what would be nice" is some information regarding topics that would be encouraged to have done. one of the biggest hangups as a speaker has always been 'what the heck do I talk about' ? Most organizers know the WP community better than anyone else, so especially for out of town speakers, a peek into what information would bring the most value to the crowd would help a lot.

Aaron, yeah, I can see that going in it's own section. For some WordCamps (SF, LA, SD, for example) getting people to register is pretty simple. But others have trouble getting the word out. Especially if there isn't an established community. Having speakers, especially those who are traveling in to speak, help promote the event has the advantage of (hopefully) hitting a different cross section of people who might not necessarily follow social channels for things like WordPress meetups/conferences... That's kinda where I was going with it.

We can definitely discuss this further this weekend.

Viva LA.


aaronjorbin commented Oct 30, 2012

If you have comments or suggestions, please comment and let us know. Thanks to everyone for the help, feedback, and suggestions thus far.

It would be nice for the speaker to have someone available to let them know how much time is left in the session. I had this responsibility at a recent WordCamp where we had signs for 10 and 5 minutes left, and a final time's up. Multiple speakers commented how helpful that was for pacing the talk.

Another thing a speaker needs to know in advance: the expected length of the time-slot. A 30-minute presentation in a 1-hour time slot, or vice- versa, is awkward.


aaronjorbin commented Nov 13, 2012

@douglsmith - That's a good point and a good idea. I do think it is ultimately the speakers responsibility to not go over, but the organizer can go a long way to helping make it happen. What do you think of worded as:

An in room time notifier. As a speaker it is my responsibility to be respectful of the audience and the next speaker and not go over my time. The organizer can help make this happen by providing a countdown timer on the podium or a person in the audience that will give visual cues (hand signels or a sign) when time is running out (perhaps at 5 and 10 minutes remaining).


aaronjorbin commented Nov 13, 2012

@dougalcampbell - Good catch. That is absolutely something that needs to be mentioned. I'm going to add it to the information email section.

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