My Experience as a WordCamp Speaker – An Honest Story

WordCamp Nepal 2015 was the first time I attended any WordCamp. I was one of the participants with a lot of excitement for the event as it was said to be the biggest WordPress event in the country.

Actually, I had expected to learn lots of new ideas and insights but there were just a few presentations which were useful to me. Most of the presentations were coding and programming focused which would be no way useful for the normal WordPress users like me.

That is when I thought SEO Copywriting could be a general topic yet useful to many people including bloggers and majority of the WordPress users who create content and publish on WordPress platform. It was how I sowed the seeds of being a WordCamp speaker in my mind.

And that was the backdrop.

Excitement

And, yes I waited almost a year until WordCamp organizers finally announced a call for speakers on July 8, 2016. Amid excitement, I asked my seniors at office if I could apply for the speaker. I checked the WordCamp presentation videos from the previous years, recollected the memories how the presenters were like the previous year, read the ‘call for speakers’ notice time and again.

After many days of research over the topic and discussion with my friends and seniors, I decided to apply. I finally submitted my application on August 19 which was the deadline for the application according to the first notice (later extended to September 3).

Waiting is not at all a peaceful experience. After submitting the application, I didn’t get any response from the organizers which made me think hundreds of different things while most of them were negative ones. Somebody rightly said that an empty mind is devil’s workshop.

Almost after a month, I finally received an email from the speaker wranglers for WordCamp Kathmandu 2016 Bezil Shrestha and Raushan Jaiswal which revived the excitement. They asked me to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation and present it to them by September 16. So, I along with Regan Khadgi dai went to Baluwatar (Raushan’s office) for the initial screening of the presentation. I was much excited after Raushan gave positive remarks regarding the topic of my presentation and my rough content.

Preparation

The next thing to do was to prepare a beautiful PowerPoint slide and organize the information so as to make it short, concise and clear. At the same time, I had to train myself as a good presenter.

I prepared my first three presentation drafts on default PowerPoint templates which looked ordinary and cluttered. I had a lot of struggle trying to make it look impressive but none of use. Almost had I stopped working on it, Rajeeb Banstola gave me an awesome idea for creating beautiful slides easily using a free template from SlidesCarnival. He is one of my colleagues at ThemeGrill as well as one of the speakers of WordCamp Nepal 2015.

a-photograph-with-my-awesome-team-at-themegrill
Posing with my awesome team at ThemeGrill

Fortunately, I had a fantastic team at ThemeGrill who had been very much supportive to me throughout my journey to WordCamp Speaker. Having experienced WordCamp speakers Sanjip Shah and Rabin Shreshtha as my bosses was a privilege who greatly supported me with generosity regarding office timings as well as arrangements for presentation practice sessions at office along with warm feedbacks. Creative and critical comments from all of my colleagues helped me to improve my presentation in a great deal.

That’s not all..

I had to decide on the content for the final presentation. I had gathered a lot of information through research. I visited Amin Ghale twice who is my senior brother as well as mentor in order to create the final content. In addition to that, feedbacks and comments from everyone including speaker wranglers and Sakin Shreshtha sir at the trial presentation sessions helped me to make the content clear and concise.

After the initial screening of the presentation was done, I did two more presentations with speaker wranglers. The final presentation session before the real WordCamp event was on October 6, 2016 at Acclaim Technology.

Selection

I knew that I had high chances of getting the opportunity yet there was no evidence to rely on. Finally, I got an email from Bezil Shreshtha (one of the speaker wranglers) on October 24 in which he asked me my speaker profile – a short bio about myself. And yes, it was when I knew that I was selected.

Event day – WordCamp Kathmandu 2016

wordcamp-kathmandu-2016-group-photo
WordCamp Kathmandu 2016, November 19 – Group Photo of all participants

Finally, it was November 19 when WordCamp Kathmandu 2016 was going to take place. Got up early morning, washed up, had tea and practiced my presentation standing in front of the mirror for the last time before going live. I was pretty confident with my content and how I was going to present yet I was doubtful if I would handle the microphone properly or not. I was quite nervous because I had the microphone tangled up in my hair the previous day while practicing.

 

taking-wefie-with-girlfriends-from-access-keys
Taking wefie with my girlfriends from Access Keys

When I reached the WordCamp venue around 9:30 a.m., there were already many people. Meeting people working with WordPress and networking was going great and in the meantime, the event started with opening remarks by Sakin Shreshtha who was leading the organizing team.

And, I got ready for my presentation which was scheduled at 11:30 a.m. As I started, I knew that I had to do the best and did it quite well. Having plentiful audience and tens of cameras clicking at you was a superstar-like feeling.

Greed

experience-as-wordcamp-speaker

To be honest with you, it was ‘GREED’ that motivated me all the way along.

Ridiculous but true!

Public speaking always has been my hobby. And, therefore I always try to grab every opportunity that lets me present in front of an audience. Something that attracts about standing on a stage is probably the feeling that you are the one everyone is looking at (at least during the time of your presentation). It is an amazing feeling when you feel like a SUPERSTAR – you have all the attention but nobody else.

That was strengthened when somebody at my office made a joke just a day before WordCamp day, ‘Sunita is going to be a celebrity tomorrow onward.’

Achievements

Talking about achievements, I had been like a celebrity at least for the day. 😀 I was interviewed by two different portals; DevotePress and one another.

Here is the interview that was published on DevotePress: WCKTM 2016 Stars: An Interview with Sunita Rai

WordCamp presentation slide is on SlideShare.net: SEO CopyWriting for WordPress – Slides by Sunita Rai

WordCamp Presentation video is on WordPress.TV:  Sunita Rai: SEO CopyWriting for WordPress

WordCamp Presentation video is also on YouTube!

All of us (the speakers) were awarded with a certificate of Appreciation. Look at the photograph below.

certificate-of-appreciation-to-the-wordcamp-speakers

Feminism

Wondering what nonsense feminism came all of sudden?

It’s just that I didn’t want to miss.

Everyone I asked if I would be selected for the speaker said ‘YES’ followed by a remark that I was a lady. Each of them assured me of being selected as I was a ‘lady’. I didn’t want to agree with the argument though I knew it was the reality. I had two choices to stay stubborn and tell them I needed no sympathy or walk up to change the perspectives. I wish no other woman be selected just because she is ‘she’. Rather I urge everyone to make your girls competent enough to be selected for her skills and talent. That is when we can acknowledge her talent.

Wrapping up

Moreover it was learning, learning and learning. From the very beginning till the WordCamp day, there were many things I learnt. A lot of technical stuff, slide making, presentation skills and more.

There was a time I felt too much of stress and felt like backing off, may be just a week two weeks before the WordCamp day.  I thought that I was not showing any progress on my presentation despite frequent practices. That’s when I learnt the very important lesson called ‘patience’.

Having my parents who blindly over support me, overrate me, and over believe me, I was through the stress. Besides, I have some gems as my dear ones who never let me down with their mounting trust even when I am the lowest.

Finally, it was a grand success. At least for me.. 😛

And, that was just an honest story – everything that happened. 🙂

If you wanna learn more about the event, here is the official website – WordCamp Kathmandu 2016.

I am indebted to official WordCamp Kathmandu 2016 website, official media partner DevotePress and all of my friends for the awesome photographs that I have used on this blog. Thanks!

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