Creating Your WordPress Talk [and Diversity Speaker Outreach]

We are keeping track of how many WP groups run the workshops this year. If you’re planning on running it, please either let us know here or message @jillbinder on Slack.


Meetup Description Meetup Description

[If you are presenting this to a specific group, such as people who identify as women, optional sections to add are indicated in [square brackets].]

This is a workshop for <specific group> <or: folks> who are thinking about speaking at WordPress events, such as WordPress Meetup and WordCamp. During this hands-on session, we’ll look at what has stopped you from speaking in the past — and explore how to move past your fears. We will discuss some common myths about public speaking, different talk formats, and we will focus on developing your talk fully.

Each participant will come out of the workshop with a WordCamp or meetup talk outline — and more confidence to present it.

***You do NOT have to have any experience in public speaking. This workshop is for all levels of experience.

This workshop is for you if:

  • [You identify as <specific group>]
  • You’ve thought about speaking at Meetup or WordCamp but you haven’t written your talk
  • You have a specific topic in mind for a WordPress meetup or WordCamp

This workshop is NOT for you if:

  • [You identify as <not specific group>]
  • [You don’t think it matters that there are very few <specific group> speakers at WordPress events]


  • Why speak at WordPress events? [Why do we need more  speaking at them?]
  • Dispelling some myths about speakers/speaking
  • Why speak at WordPress events? [Why do we need more <specific group> speaking at them?]
  • Dispelling some myths about speakers/speaking
  • Writing the outline
  • Coming up with a great title
  • Practice giving a short talk


  • This venue should have [elevators, ramps, etc.], [single stall washrooms for non-binary genders], [etc.].
  • Please do not  wear scents. Many people are allergic to them.

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Prerequisite Skills Prerequisite Skills

  • N/A

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Objectives Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the basics of a good outline.
  • Apply what you have learned to your own outline.
  • Recall the different types of talk formats.
  • Practice public speaking in front of a small group to help build confidence.
  • Identify many of the fears that have stopped you from public speaking.
  • [State why we need more diversity in our public speakers.]

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Assets Assets

  • Workbook (link to Google doc)
  • A large device that can show a countdown timer for the timed speaking presentations, such as an iPad
  • A video recording device, such as an iPad or phone
  • Sign up sheet, clipboard, pen

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Screening Questions Screening Questions

  • [Do you identify as <specific group>?]
  • Do you have a possible topic in mind? It does not need to be final, but having something to use for this exercise would be useful.

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Teacher Notes Teacher Notes

This section repeats from the Teacher Notes in Lesson 1. It’s very important. Please read it.


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Workshop Workshop

The first material repeats from Speaker lesson 1, “Finding Your Topic.” If you ran lesson 1, start here. If you did not, grab sections from “toilet” to “Talk Formats” from lesson 1, “Finding Your Topic.”

Note: The first 2 exercises that follow here are repeated from the last 2 exercises of lesson 1. Only run these once.


What Kind Of Talk? What Kind Of Talk?

Split the room into groups of 4-5.

Please pull out your workbooks. These exercises will be found there.

As we mentioned before, there are different kinds of talks:

  • How To
  • Discussion
  • Panel
  • Story-based
  • Case Study
  • Workshop

Discuss with your group what type of talk you would like to create.

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Refining Topic Refining Topic

First, let’s refine your topic. Even if you already have a very specific topic in mind, let’s do this exercise anyway. We are going to apply “Who, What, Why, How, When, Where.” For example:  If you have a favorite plugin, you can try asking who is this plugin for? What does this plugin do? Why was this plugin created? How does it work? When would you use it? Where would you use it?

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Why
  4. How
  5. When
  6. Where

From this list, can you refine your topic? Is there something more specific on which you’d like to give the talk?

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Writing The Outline Writing The Outline

You’ve answered a few questions about your topic and now have an idea what sub-topics you may want to delve into in your talk. With these ideas in mind, create an outline for your talk. Don’t worry, we’ll talk you through the outline.

As a basic structure, a talk should have 3 parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Let’s start with the introduction.


What makes a great introduction?

  • Clearly state what your talk is about
  • What are you going to cover?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Pique interest! — What is your hook? Open with impact!
  • Who is it aimed at?
  • Be Succinct! — Use economy of words

Tips for your introduction:

  • Don’t apologize or insult yourself. Apologizing in your opening calls attention to any flaws you may be concerned about and reduces the positive engagement of your audience. Jared Spool gave a great talk on starting off your presentation right, where he shows some examples of different opening styles: Open Right: Starting Off Your Presentation
  • Don’t spend 10 minutes talking about your resume. Many new speakers begin by talking about their hobbies, family, or work history. The trouble is, before you’ve begun talking about your content, audiences aren’t emotionally invested in you yet. Spending excessive amounts of time convincing them why they should pay attention to you is far less effective than opening with the engaging content they’re here to see.
  • Start with a relevant story. Talk about why you’re giving this talk today. For example, tell a story about a problem you encountered, to lead into a talk about how to solve similar problems.
  • Summarize what you’ll cover or what attendees will walk away with. This gives a high-level context of where each part of your talk falls into the larger topic.
  • Ask a friend to introduce you. Better than introducing yourself is asking someone close to you to introduce you, to give you praise and assign credibility. Aaron Jorbin has a great blog post on The Benefits of a Good Conference Introduction.


Now we are going to create an outline of your talk.

Write down some main topics or story headings you’d like to cover. What is the main point you want to get across? What are some examples, or supporting points that go to illustrate your main point? What would be a logical flow?

You can use the W5 questions you defined in the previous section to refine your topic to create your talk sections.


For the conclusion, you will want to:

  • Summarize what has been discussed.
  • The “So What?” question – why does your topic matter?
  • Review the main take-away points.
  • Give further resources that may be useful to attendees.
  • Be sure to give the audience your contact information. An email and/or Twitter handle is good.


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Strengthening Your Talk Strengthening Your Talk

Just like a software developer who always gets new ideas for features to add, you’ll have many ideas for new content as you edit and revise. Drafting the content is easier than editing it down to the core of your message.

Tips for sharpening your talk:

  • Define the learning objectives of your talk. What do you want the audience to do or learn? Step back from your talk a few times and revisit your initial goals for the talk. Consider cutting content that doesn’t directly support the point you’re trying to make.
  • Use repetition. Create a pattern of repeating information in summary, detail, then summary again. Like a persuasive paper, you can introduce what you intend to talk about, talk about it, then summarize what you just talked about. Siobhan McKeown has a great quote regarding writing: “Figure out your key message and make sure that your audience walks away with that message. Return to that message a few times to make sure it sticks in people’s brains.”
  • Use contrast. Just like a movie has highs and lows to create impactful scenes, when the villain is about to win and the hero comes back despite the odds, your talk can use tension. Point out a problem and the pain it causes, then offer the vision of it being resolved. This captures your audience so they want to know how you resolved it, right before you share that information.

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Coming Up With a Great Title (Or: Refining Your Title) Coming Up With a Great Title (Or: Refining Your Title)

If you ran this exercise in a previous module, use this section to refine that title or skip this section

Now that you have an outline, we need a (to refine) good title for your talk!

You want to:

  • Try to think of something catchy but explanatory
  • Beware of too-clever titles
  • Create a title that can stand on its own without a blurb (for example don’t use something like “CSS and Elephants”)

Spend a few minutes writing down some possible talk titles now. Share the best one or two with your group.

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Present Outline Present Outline

(If you are running other speaker training lessons after this one, regroup the room into a circle. If it’s only one module and this is the last exercise, change the seats into a presentation style format. Chairs all facing the same direction—to the front, where a person will stand to talk.)

Now anyone who wishes will have the opportunity to share their outline with the group. You will have two minutes or less for your mini presentation. There are no expectations. This is not a chance to practice being great; this is just an opportunity to practice being in front of people. You may request receiving feedback if you wish.

(Have each person volunteer themselves by show of hand.)

  • Ask them if they would like us to record them on their phones so they can watch it later.
  • Ask them if they wish for feedback.
  • They may watch their time on the large device (such as iPad).


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Sign Up Sign Up

Do this conclusion once per workshop lessons meetup

Thank you for attending today. We will be passing a sign up sheet (or you will receive an email). If you are interested in speaking at an event,  please sign up to let us know. This is not a commitment, but we will get in touch with you to discuss the possibility of speaking at an upcoming meetup or WordCamp.