Tuesday Trainings: How do I get speakers for my meetup?

As we start to change up the format of Tuesday Trainings we’re going to try some new things. Today and for the three following weeks I’ll share a question that I, and other Community Team Deputies, are often asked. I’ve not yet selected our next few so if you have a question that you think could beneficial in this format let me know in the comments. Now onto this week’s topic

How do I get speakers for my meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area.?

How many of you have been asked this question? How many of you have asked this question? I think all community organizers have had occasion to ask how to get speakers for their events. But let’s not just answer that exact question. Let’s level up the ask. Not how do I get speakers for my meetup, but how do I ensure I’m providing a diverse roster of speakers for my meetup?

My best advice on providing a diverse lineup of speakers:

I’m going to share a few thoughts that I have on the topic, but more importantly if this new format is going to benefit all of us in the WordPress community I need  you all to share a few thoughts as well. I’m going to kick us off with some tried and true methods of bringing in speakers for your events.

Just ask

I know, this is really simple, it might even sound too easy. But times are different right now and so this back to basics approach to booking a speaker for your event can work better than ever. With events currently still being limited to online only you can ask an expert from pretty much anywhere in the world to join you. Our community is deeply caring and open and so many community members are committed to the growth of others in our program. So if there’s a member of the WordPress community you admire and have enjoyed a talk they’ve given at an event in the past then you should send them a pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.”. Be specific about what you are looking for and when you hold your event and find out if they’re willing to speak to your group.

Collaborate with other nearby groups

This is another way we can really be taking advantage of the online meetup format this pandemic has led us to. In the past our meetups and events were constrained by the number of people we could fit in a space or by the ability to physically get to the venue. We’ve seen a number of meetup organizer collaborate with one another to host a meetup for their combined areas. If three meetups each meet monthly and you combine your efforts and share  your speaker or subject that means each organizing team is only coming up with the content or speaker for one meetup a quarter. That’s a quarter of the content work you’d be doing in a regular year.

Look within.

Your meetup group is made up of all sorts of tremendously talented and experienced individuals. So they’re not speakers. That doesn’t mean they can’t be at some point. Frequently people don’t think of themselves as presenters because no one has given them the opportunity or training to be a presenter. Luckily we have just the thing for you, a Diverse Speaker Training Series. You can ask if anyone would be interested in taking it on their own, or you could organize a watch party event for your meetup using the video series as content, then host a discussion group. Making it open to your entire meetup gives everyone a chance to consider if they’d be interested in sharing what they know.

Learn.WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/

What I just said above about the Diverse Speaker Training series can work with literally any video on Learn WordPress that suits the needs of your group. Play the video for attendees for the first portion of the meetup and then use the comprehension questions provided as a jumping off point for a great discussion.

Your best advice on providing a diverse lineup of speakers?

Those are just a few of the things I typically recommend, but there are so many more ways to recruit speakers to fill out a great and diverse roster throughout the year. Share with us what you have tried that has worked to bring in speakers. Or maybe what you tried that failed, because we can learn from that too. Even if you think it’s simple. Even if you think it’s common sense, I’d love for you to share your approach to speaker recruitment and content creation for your meetup. Remember common sense is based on a lifetime of lived experience, which means your common sense is only common to you. 

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