I’ve been to my fair share of WordCamps.  Not as many as some, but I’ve been to 1-3 per year since 2013, speaking at many of them.  It only took a couple of camps before I realized that I wanted to speak at one.  Attendees run the gamut from users who are just getting started using WordPress as a publishing platform to developers who regularly contribute to core and/or develop and sell some pretty widely used plugins, so I knew that regardless of what I had to say that someone would find value in it.  Well at least I hoped that was the case.

My first speaking WordCamp was Chicago 2014.  I was so nervous I gave myself a stress migraine midway through the day (naturally my talk was late in the day on Saturday, one of the last).  There was a cadre of people that I’d bump into as I paced the venue, offering encouragement and ibuprofen with each lap.  Of course all I could think was “How can you encourage me you haven’t even heard the talk yet!!”, but that’s how the WordPress, and even moreso the WordCamp, community is.

I have never seen a camper turn down an opportunity to help someone out.  Ever.

Support first, cheer during, congratulate after; we take care of eachother.

And thats what allowed an anxiety ridden guy with a migraine to stumble through his talk and go on to keep doing it, over and over again.  Can anyone prove me wrong?

WordCamp Ann Arbor 2017 set the bar even higher…

I’ve been to some truly AWESOME WordCamps, but I have to say WCA2 set a new standard for me this year.  The energy, the community, the conversations, everyone was giving 200%, from organizers to volunteers, attendees and sponsors.  It was something special.

As I prepared my talks for this year I had an epiphany- I’m always telling folks they have unique value in their experiences that gives us all relevance, but I hadn’t quite put my money where my mouth is so to speak.  So I went after more of a workshop vibe, to lead a conversation but ultimately try to give attendees a voice during the presentation.  Because I need to learn too!  And maybe someone in the audience will respond better to the way someone else expresses the same ideas.  And as always, attendees stepped up and floored me with their candor and astute wisdom.

…and 2018 is going to be a wild ride!

Putting on a camp as engaging and energizing as this one is going to be a challenge, but I hope, with the ever present help of the organizing team, to take things up a notch and build on the foundation that they have been laying for the last 4 years!

Big thanks and gratitude to every organizer, volunteer, attendee, and sponsor of WordCamp Ann Arbor 2017- this only works because we all believe in it and support eachother.  See you next year!

Published 10/17/17 by Ian Wilson