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 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