Get Out of the Box with Your WordCamp Session Format

Everyone knows and loves the quintessential WordCamp session—a 25- or 30-minute talk with slides and 15 minutes of Q&A afterwards. It’s the staple of WordCamps the world over.


If you’d like to dip your toe in the WordCamp speaking waters but aren’t in love with the lecture-style,


You’re an out-of-the-box kind of the person and the same old, same old just doesn’t cut it for you,

Then this is the blog post for you.

Get Out of the Box with Your WordCamp Session Format

This year, we’re making a concerted effort to branch out at WordCamp Seattle and include more out-of-the-box types of sessions. So put your creative thinking caps on and let’s look at some other session formats you might consider…

Lightning Talk (With or Without Slides)

There are lots of short talk formats like Ignite or pecha-kucha that show how much someone can communicate in just a few minutes. A 5- or 10-minute lightning talk is a great way to try out speaking for the first time or to wow folks with one specific point or skill you’re passionate about.

We hope to get enough lightning talk submissions that we can put together a few sessions of talks where the audience gets to see four or five presentations in the time others only get one!


Lots of people don’t really love being up in the front of a crowded room all by themselves. So how about dragging some buddies up there with you? Round up a couple or three friends who love to sit around and talk about WordPress and bring your own panel to the party.

Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head ways to approach a panel:

  • There are three ways to do everything in WordPress, right? Bring together folks that represent different ends of the spectrum on a subject like the best ways to optimize for speed on your website.
  • Or, sometimes a subject is so broad that one person can’t know it all. You can have different folks focus on differing aspects of a  broad topic like membership or eCommerce sites.
  • One of the most memorable panels for me was a few years back on “How to Become a Better WordPress Developer“. It was funny and entertaining and so informative to hear about the different experiences different people had with bettering their WordPress skills over the years. (And I admittedly still have a little developer-crush on Kronda Adair from when she was a panelist at this session.)

A moderator is a crucial asset in this type of format to keep the conversation focused and moving forward, help corral questions from the audience, and/or provide targeted questions for the panelists. If you’ve got your panelists lined up but no one to moderate, let us know. We may be able to help with this piece.

Networking Facilitation

Do you like connecting people who have something in common? Do you like not listening to someone just talk for half an hour? Consider helping other people get to know each other and stay social during the conference!

We’d love to hear pitches from people interested in facilitating more social sessions like a freelancer’s support group, connecting people with needs and those looking for work, or leading a group to brainstorm around the future of WordPress. Interactive activities and sessions that may not need slides are welcome. Get creative!

Interview / Ask Me Anything (AMA)

Some people thrive in the hot seat. If you’ve got deep knowledge about some WordPress-related (SEO, blogging, social media, etc.), then this might be the format for you. You’ll need a willingness to put yourself out there and the ability to think fast on your feet.

For example, last year, we had a session called “There are No Dumb Questions: Beginner Q&A”  presented by the indomitable Kelli Wise. In 2015, she partnered with Leslie Stewart for a similar session, both of which turned out to be immensely popular.

Don’t worry – getting people to ask questions at WordCamp is easy. (Getting them to stop asking questions so the session can wrap up, on the other hand…) But if you’re really concerned about it, you can plant some questions with folks in the crowd to get the ball rolling.

Multi-Session Workshop

Who doesn’t love rolling up their sleeves, getting down and dirty, and actually doing while they’re learning at WordCamp?

We’re working on putting together some workshops targeted both at beginning WordPress users with a WP 101 type session as well as a developer-focused workshop track this year.

If you’ve got the itch to teach and  enjoy presenting in a more hands-on format, this could be the session-type for you. Think about how you can help people learn a concrete skill with a hands-on training in a few hours.

Something Else

Something you don’t find at every WordCamp is Zumba! But last year, one of the most intriguing sessions focused on postural ailments those of us techies who hunch over a computer all day suffer from. And the remedy? Zumba! with Catherine Bridge. It was a fun, energetic way to kick off a full day ahead of what else, but more sitting?

If not Zumba, then yoga might be your thing.

If not yoga, maybe you could do a walk ‘n talk around downtown Seattle.

If not a walk ‘n talk, perhaps you have an idea we haven’t thought of yet.

So what do you think? Did any of these spark an idea for you for a session you might like to present? Go ahead and…


Deadline to submit your speaker application is SATURDAY, AUGUST 5th.

A Bevy of WordCamp Topics and Ideas

WordCamp Topics and Ideas

We’ve been brainstorming away and asking for input about what you’d like to see at this year’s WordCamp, and we’ve got a monster list to get your juices flowing.

Take a good read-through of some of the things you might get to learn (or if you’re brave, some of the things you might want to speak) about:

Intro to WordPress

  • WordPress 101 Workshop
  • How to Pick a Theme
  • How to Pick a Plugin
  • Blogging Best Practices
  • vs. Self-hosted
  • Security / Hacking Prevention
  • Plugin Safety and Security
  • Writing for the Web
  • Beginner Q&A

“General” Topics

  • Content Strategy / Content Marketing
  • “How I built X”
  • The Future of WordPress
  • Social Media Integration
  • Accessibility & {Themes / Plugins / Design / Content}
  • Presentations on Drupal, Joomla!, SquareSpace, etc.
  • Page Builders (pros & cons)
  • Intro to Multisite
  • Custom Post Types
  • Planning a Successful Website Project
  • Building Sites That Last
  • Something to do with Video
  • Social and Email Marketing
  • WooCommerce
  • BuddyPress

For Business Owners

  • SEO
  • Latest Organic SEO Trends
  • Working with Clients
  • Pricing / Project Structure
  • Networking
  • How to Hire Your First Employee / Contractor
  • Building Sites That Last
  • Maintenance Plans / Recurring Revenue
  • [Non-Sleazy] Affiliate Marketing / Income
  • WordPress for Nonprofits
  • WordPress for Government
  • WordPress for the Enterprise
  • WordPress for…
  • Managing Lots of Sites
  • Google Analytics (Interpretation of…, Taking Action with…)
  • SSL certificates (What, Why, How)
  • Case Studies for Bigger Projects – How Different Agencies Tackle Challenges, Migration, etc. with WordPress
  • Business Side of Running a Freelance Web Design Dev Business
  • Business Tools for Freelancers
  • Running A WordPress-Focused Business
  • Social Media Best Practices
  • Best Plugins for Page Speed


  • Getting Started with Theming
  • Managing Local Development
  • Current Theme Trends (Elements of Modern Design Looks)
  • Anatomy of Underscores
  • SVG
  • SASS
  • Grunt / Gulp / Webpack / etc.
  • Anatomy of Twenty Seventeen
  • Speed / Performance
  • Anatomy of a WordPress Theme
  • Creating Your First Premium / Commercial Theme

For Designers

  • How Designers Can Contribute to WordPress
  • 2017 Design Trends
  • Design Workflow
  • Getting Client Feedback on Designs
  • Understanding Themeing for Designers
  • Wireframing vs. Prototyping vs. Mockups
  • Using CSS Animations
  • Flexbox Primer
  • The Best Way to Optimize Images So Google Page Speed Stops Complaining About It

For Developers

  • How to Build a Plugin
  • How to Contribute Code to Core
  • Coding Securely
  • Intro to the Customizer
  • Content Migrations
  • WP-CLI
  • Speed / Performance
  • GIT – how and why to use it
  • JavaScript
  • Deployment Tools (Capistrano, Deployer, etc.)
  • Infrastructure Automation / Provisioning (Ansible, Trellis, Chef, Puppet, etc.)
  • Configuration Management
  • Dependency Management (Composer)
  • Laravel Valet
  • Agile Development / Project Management
  • Data-Driven / Data-Informed Product Design / Development
  • Database Management – InnoDB vs. MyISAM (What Collation to use? What should the defaults be for WordPress DB’s be?)

Are you excited for November yet?

Feel free to leave ideas about other topics you’d like to see in the comments below. Or better yet…


Note: You are by no means limited to this list of ideas for your WordCamp pitch. Be creative and think outside the box. Don’t forget to check out our tips for submitting a solid application.

Application deadline is August 5.

photo credit: Diz Play

Tips for Submitting a Strong Speaker Pitch

In case you missed it earlier this week, the Speaker Application for WordCamp Seattle 2017 is now open. (Woohoo!)

If you’re noodling on whether to apply or not, let me share some tips that might nudge you over the line and help you make a super-strong pitch:

Tips for Submitting a Strong Speaker Pitch

1) Make it Unique and Memorable

We aren’t necessarily interested in the same topic that’s been presented at 10 different WordCamps over the past 2 years and shows up on half a dozen times (unless it is just a stellar, knock-your-socks-off topic that is not to be missed).

We are interested in engaging topics with a specific, unique point of view that capitalize on personal experience. Stories about how you did something new or out of the ordinary with WordPress and how well (or not well) it went are some of the best.

We’ve curated a list of topic suggestions that we’ll be posting in the next week or so to get your juices flowing, but if you’ve got an idea brewing, don’t hesitate to go ahead and submit it now.

2) Know Your Stuff

This does not mean that you need to be an uber WordPress expert – not by a long shot.

But you’ll note on the application this year that we ask for some sort of proof that you know what you’re talking about with the topic you’re proposing. This can be a blog post or a prior presentation on the subject or videos/screencast posted on YouTube or whatever.

We absolutely want to give less-experienced speakers a chance, but we also don’t want to put anyone in a situation where they’re uncomfortably in over their heads.

3) Think Outside the Box

Your presentation doesn’t have to be the traditional 30-minute lecture with Q&A afterward. We’re really trying to mix it up this year.

Think unconference. (Zumba! at WordCamp Seattle was a blast last year, and they offered morning yoga before both days of WordCamp US. These activities, although not directly WordPress-related, were most definitely pertinent to those of us who sit on our tuchuses all day in front of a computer.)

Think 5-10 minute lightning talk.

Think 2-3 hour hands-on workshop.

Think about you and 3 friends putting together your own panel to cover a topic more in-depth or present a wide range of varying opinions on a specific subject.

Just because we don’t list it in the Topic Format section of the application doesn’t mean we won’t consider it.

4) Be Prepared, but Be Patient

We’ve got a 3 month window for accepting speaker applications and then a few weeks of blind review and vetting to go through, so it can be a bit of time between when you might submit your application and when you find out if you’ve been chosen.

Do please keep in mind that if you’ve submitted a talk, it ought to be something you’ve already fleshed out pretty well. If you’re selected, you’ll need to submit your speaker slides roughly a month before camp, so don’t leave this to the last minute!

One other thing you might want to consider to help you be prepared is to do a dry run of your presentation at a meetup near you so you can get some practice and feedback and refine your presentation. (This helps tremendously to calm nerves ahead of speaking at WordCamp, too.)

There are a ton of WordPress-related meetups between now and WordCamp, and trust me, as a meetup organizer, we’re always clamoring for topics and presenters, so you will very likely be welcomed with open arms.

So there you have it – some behind-the-scenes tips to help you make your best pitch possible. Now go forth and…


The deadline to submit your application is SAT, AUGUST 5, 2017.

photo credit: Jon Eckert

WCS 2017 launches website

We’re so excited to have a brand new graphic identity thanks for our great marketing team led by Lisa Stewart and Carla Conrad. We couldn’t have done it without Teri Shelton from River Dog Marketing who themed the site.  And a special thanks to Michael Riffle Photography for use of his Seattle skyline photo.

Here are a few things to check out:

Notice we’ve added a new Community Sponsor level for only $250 which gets you into WordCamp, a link on the website and knowing that you’re contributing to the local WordPress Seattle community.

There’s lots more there. If you catch any bad links, typos or things that are missing, let us know. We’ll be adding more over the coming weeks.

Oh…and don’t forget to subscribe in the footer to be notified as we add new things!