If you’ve never been to a WordCamp before you’re missing the best part of the WordPress world. While the software is great – it’s the size and giving nature of the community that makes it special.
I sat down with my friend Nathan Ingram – who has been to 50-60 WordCamps – to discuss what virtual WordCamps are like, some of the advantages of WordCamps going virtual, some of the things to watch out for, and our best advice to get the most out of attending a WordCamp.
Maximize Your Screen Size
Virtual WordCamps are great but there’s a few things you might not expect. One of the first is what they actually look like. For WordCamp Denver, we tried to show the speaker, their title, and their slides.
All of this is great as long as you have a big enough screen to make sure their slides are legible.
Tip: make sure you watch virtual WordCamps on a laptop or desktop.
Attend the “Soft” Sessions
For WordCamp Denver we added a few “soft” sessions like yoga on Friday and How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee Saturday morning.
While these aren’t strictly WordPress related, they’re a great way to connect with your community. The chat was very active during both sessions and people happily shared non-WordPress things with each other.
Tip: You’ll always have another email to answer. Instead, take the opportunity to connect with your community both before, after, and during the event.
Bookmark Your Favorite Sessions
For WordCamp Denver we had three tracks going on both days. There is always a ton of great content and you won’t be able to watch it all.
I’ll admit it – I’m lazy and if I don’t have to prepare for an event I won’t. But if you can spend even 10 minutes reviewing the schedule & speakers ahead of time, you should be able to find the sessions most relevant to you.
And since this is a virtual event you don’t have to go all day. You can conserve your energy and pop in for the sessions most relevant for you and then go back to regular work or life.
Tip: Bookmark your favorite sessions and schedule your day around them.
Ask Your Questions As They Come Up
One thing you might not realize is that there’s a 20-30 second delay between the speaker talking and you seeing the video on your end. That means it can be really hard to come up with good questions when the speaker asks.
Instead you can ask questions throughout the talk by dropping them in the chat. A moderator will collect them, prioritize them, and ask them at the end. This makes asking questions really efficient and you won’t forget a great question if you drop it in the chat immediately.
As a side benefit sometimes the attendees will answer your questions or help you elaborate.
Tip: Ask questions as soon as they come up. It helps the dialogue in the chat & will make sure those questions won’t be forgotten.
Feel Free to Check Different Tracks
One thing that’s hard to do at a physical event is to switch tracks. I don’t want to step over someone, open doors, or maybe even step in front of the camera.
I kept three tabs open almost all day and had all three live streams running and I flipped back and forth muting & unmuting the different tracks. It let me hear a little bit from each speaker and then join the session that made the most sense for me.
Tip: You’re allowed to watch all of the tracks and pick your favorite. You won’t hurt any speakers’ feelings by switching tracks and you won’t disturb anyone – so do it!
Focus on One Or Two Changes
There’s a lot of really good sessions at a WordCamp and I think Nathan sums it up perfectly:
“WordCamps are like a firehose…”
People often leave WordCamps with notebooks full of ideas. But those exciting ideas can easily turn into procrastination because you don’t know where to start.
Tip: After you’ve finished watching a WordCamp, focus on implementing just 1 or 2 things. If you focus on 1 or 2 things you’ll be able to get them done.
Getting The Most out of a Virtual WordCamp
Virtual WordCamps are still sorting themselves out and the format will likely change as we move forward. While some things aren’t as easy to do as they were before – there are also a ton of benefits for virtual events.
With these tips we hope you can get the most out of the WordCamp near you!