March 2021 Meetup – How to Own Your Expertise And Start Speaking at WP Events

The March Meetup featured attendees from throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond. Jill Binder joined from Toronto, while the interactive workshop was led by AmyJune Hineline in San Francisco and Tara King in Albuquerque.

Keep reading to learn some of the key points covered in this meetup or check out the recording if you want to rewatch the full workshop.

Why don’t we want to speak?

The first half of the meetup looked at the reasons why we do and don’t want to speak at WordPress events. First up, the reasons why we don’t want to speak – which AmyJune called “The Myths”.

  • I’m not an expert.
    • You’re more of an expert than you think you are.
    • Not everyone knows everything. You may know something that someone else doesn’t, or more about a topic than someone else, which makes you an expert to them.
    • Imposter Syndrome – You don’t think you should be there.
  • People will ask questions that I can’t answer, and I’ll look like a fool.
    • Yes, that’s a risk, but your audience will understand that you may not have all the answers. People respect the honesty of “I don’t know.”
    • You could deflect to the audience.
    • You could say you’ll answer it later through your social media or website.
    • Off-topic questions can throw you off, but you can say that it’s off-topic and suggest it be discussed afterward.
  • I’m too nervous to speak.
    • The audience rooting for you.
    • Practice, practice, practice!
    • Start small, with a local meetup first before moving on to a camp.
  • I have failed if everyone in the audience isn’t totally engaged.
    • Zoom fatigue is real, try not to take it personally.
    • Neutral expressions don’t mean they aren’t engaged.
    • That person using their phone could be sharing your message.
  • A talk followed by a Q&A is the only format that I can use to share my knowledge.
    • There are many ways to share your knowledge at WordPress events including group discussions, workshops, panels, and lightning talks.
  • I don’t have anything interesting to say.
    • Chances are good that someone else will also find your topic interesting.
    • Check with the organizers to see if they’re looking for anything specific; there may be a gap you can fill.
  • I need a fancy slideshow.
    • No, you don’t. You need slides that reflect what you’re talking about.
    • Be mindful of cultural references – not everyone may get the joke.

Why do we want to speak?

There are even more reasons to want to speak at a WordPress event.

  • Be seen as an authority
  • Share your knowledge
  • Build your confidence
  • Give back to the community
  • Meet people; be a part of a community
  • Travel
  • Learn through presenting
  • It’s fun!
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Be a role model

Finding a topic

The second half of the presentation focused on how to find a topic for your own WordPress talk.

Talk formats

There’s more than one way to give a talk, and you don’t have to do it alone.

  • How-to: show-and-tell
  • Discussion: a great way to start, by asking other people questions
  • Panel: another great way to start
  • Story-based: how you learned something
  • Case study: how you created one thing in particular or solved one specific problem
  • Workshop: attendees bring their laptops and all work on a problem together


Time was spent brainstorming ideas for talks. After giving a few minutes to write down random ideas, AmyJune asked some prompting questions including “What do you love about WordPress?” and “What excites you about it?”

Choosing a topic

Tara led us through an exercise on how to choose a topic, with a prompt for each talk type – story-based, panel discussion, case study, and workshop.

Refining your topic

Following a breakout session where attendees discussed possible topics, several people shared their ideas.

Next steps

Everyone was invited to join the Slack channel #great-lakes-diverse-speaker-workshop and to continue working on their presentation topics. Perhaps you have a topic for the April meetup?

Additional workshops available online:

Refining your topic:

Writing a great pitch:

Creating your talk:

Becoming a better speaker:

Online stage presence:

Watch the Recording





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