WordCamp DFW 2014 | Your First WordPress Site | A Retrospecitve

In 2014 I gave a WordCamp talk about setting up Your First WordPress Site.  As far as first presentations go, it was pretty successful. I don’t have too much in terms of metrics to support that, but I did get tweeted! That was a first for me. To be honest I think if most people talk for 50 minutes straight they might come up with one or two reasonably useful things to say, so that might be all that happened there.

I have since watched (**cringed**) at the presentation and I have realized there were quite a few things I did wrong.  This was a broad subject, and though I thought I was being smart in my proposal for the talk by saying:

[aesop_quote type=”pull” background=”#ffffff” text=”#000000″ width=”40%” align=”center” size=”2″ quote=”As I feel there is a lot of content to cover here I will use a slideshow and not an interactive demonstration.” parallax=”off” direction=”left”]

Clearly I didn’t make it any better by making the entire presentation open to Q&A. Shortly before my presentation, I thought it would be best to make sure these people (my audience) got to walk away from this session with the information they wanted, not what I told them they needed.

Though my intentions were good, the implementation was not. I very quickly found myself down rabbit holes I was not prepared to climb out of.  The questions that probably took up the most time were very important ones to answer, but they hadn’t occurred to me during preparation.  I found myself scrambling to provide information but not always in the most logical way.  Ultimately I ran out of time.

I would have likely run out of time anyhow.  My presentation was far too ambitious and under prepared.  This is probably a typical problem for new presenters and I have even seen it happen to veterans inside and outside of the WordPress community.  I have given micro versions of this talk throughout the year and I have come up with a few ideas that will hopefully make future attempts far more successful.

  • Start with the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
  • Explain Managed hosting vs Shared Hosting.
  • Explain the differences of Posts vs Pages.
  • Nix the domain sign up section.
  • Get to the Dashboard fast.
  • Display the standard WordPress Dashboard URL prominently on the required slides.
  • The slide show will be built into WordPress so that I can easily jump between prominent slide information, and demonstrations.
  • The presentation will be divided into 5 sections:
    • Settings
    • Content Creation – Posts, Widgets, Menus
    • Categories and Tags
    • Themes
    • Plugins
  • I will ask that questions be held until the end of the presentation
  • The slides will be available on slideshare and the link will be posted before and after the presentation.

I have found that in order to keep the presentation down to 45 minutes or less, I need to cover each of the 5 sections as broadly as possible, diving in deep is just not an option. Furthermore I have had to remove previously planned sections regarding specific plugins for eCommerce, Jetpack, SEO, and specific premium plugins. Where these are all important and are typically touched on in one way or another throughout the presentation, they can (and do) represent their own sessions.

Teaching WordPress is something that I have a lot of interest in pursuing so this is a session I really hope to be able to fine tune and impact as many people as possible.

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Marc

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