Even if the WordCamp Cologne was already a while back, we still want to take the time to share our experience of the event and let you know some of the lessons we learned during the preparation for our first public speech together.

First the whole WordCamp event was organized brilliantly by the orga team. Everybody seemed totally happy and we heard only 100% positive feedback regarding the event organization. Food- and drink-wise there were so many choices including vegan :), vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Why was the WordCamp so amazing?

The sessions were so interesting and versatile (you could choose from 4 sessions in four rooms at the same time), so we would have loved to listen to all of them (you can still do this on WordPress.tv) and luckily the weather was great, too. So the little outside area in front of the uni building was in great use as well. Especially during lunch breaks everyone came outside to enjoy the sun and of course also the food provided by the burrito food truck and the yummy coffee and tea from the mobile coffee stand.

As you can see we had a great time and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone, from the orga team, to the volunteers and of course also all of the attendees were super friendly and the event schedule as well as the food was so versatile that I think there was something in it for everyone.

For us it was also so special to finally meet a lot of the people we already know online for years. It’s still something so different to meet and talk to someone in person, instead of just emailing, tweeting or communicating via blog comments.

Preparing Our Speech

We had promised ourselves that we would prepare a speech, if we were able to attend the WordCamp. So we were pretty nervous before the event, especially since we both are not experienced in public speaking at all and of course we didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

So to be honest the preparation for our speech was quite chaotic. And because of our move to New Zealand just recently we didn’t have lots of time to prepare everything properly. The final result was that we were still practicing our speech while already on our trip back from Auckland to Frankfurt. Luckily we had two days stop-over in Singapore and we were able to completely concentrate on our speech during those two days.

As said we had no experience at all. Looking back it was really helpful to practice our speech together out loud over and over again. Since we planed to take turns speaking, it was also super important to practice together, so that we knew exactly what the other person would say next. We prepared little note cards, writing down the key words of our sections. This was very helpful, especially to feel safer during the speech. In case one would forget what to say, you can just look at your next key word and hopefully remember again what you want to say.

The following tips are the ones we found most helpful preparing our first speech:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Out load and in case you are not going to talk alone, together with the other persons.
  • Prepare numbered note cards with your most important key words. Then practice your speech with your note cards in hand.
  • Speak slowly and enjoy the moment of your speech, even if you are nervous. This way you will probably be more at ease and consequently talk more relaxed and your audience will be able to follow you more easily.
  • Be open to questions that you will get asked or some technical mistakes that can happen. So you are able to improvise, if needed.
  • In general, relax. There are just people like you sitting in the audience and little unperfections will mostly just make you more relatable.
  • Prepare your slides well in advance and practice your speech with your slides (one of the biggest mistakes we made).
  • Also think about the lighting situation in the room and make sure your audience can see you well (another thing we still need to work on in our next speech).
Shortly said

All together we had lots of fun during our speech and we were so happy to receive such wonderful feedback afterwards.

We hope to be able to attend further WordCamps in Germany and maybe even in other countries (in New Zealand or the WordCamp Europe next year). If you ever get the opportunity to attend a WordCamp or even to speak at a WordCamp, take this chance. It’s such an amazing experience, you can meet so many nice people, exchange your experiences and learn from others. You don’t feel all alone and learn that everyone makes similar experiences. It’s really so worth it!

Even though the slides and the video of our speech is only available in German, we still want to embed both here:

The Video of our Speech
The Slides

Further Links:
– the WordCamp Cologne website
– WordCamp Central: A schedule of all WordCamps worldwide
– our speech on WordPress.tv

(Photo-Credit: The intro picture to this post was shot by Bernhard from Kau-Boys.de. Thanks so much for this great shot, Bernhard!)