Press Publish Portland

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If you’re into WordPress, you’ve likely heard of WordCamps – grassroots events held around the world, with sessions aimed at developers, designers, and users of the WordPress open-source software. You may also have heard about tech-heavy WordPress conferences like LoopConf or business-focused ones like PressNomics.

Last week, a brand new WordPress event called Press Publish made its debut in Portland, Oregon, and I was lucky to be a part of it. An initiative of Automattic, the conference mixed advice and inspiration for bloggers with tips on making the most of WordPress. It was jam-packed with motivating talks, from speakers like Erick Prince-Heaggans, a travel blogger and photojournalist, and Ananda Leeke, a “yoga, creativity, and Internet geek,” both of whom I had the pleasure to chat with during the course of the event.

I loved being involved in Press Publish – from meeting WordPress users of all levels and helping them at the Happiness Bar, to bonding with my fellow Automatticians. Oh yeah, I also gave some talks and workshops! My short presentation Wild About Widgets was recorded, and the video should be out in a few weeks. I gave a workshop on using the WordPress Customizer with Sheri Bigelow and another on mastering menus and widgets. My colleague Michelle Langston and I ran an intro workshop on CSS, putting together a reference site and demo where we showed examples of how you can tweak your site with CSS to get it looking exactly how you want.

The next Press Publish is on April 18 in Phoenix. If you’re anywhere in the area I hope you’ll consider attending. I’d love to meet you!

I had a comment after my Hawaii post that there were no photos of me. I hope this one makes up for that. 🙂 Thanks to Josh Root and Anne McCarthy for some of the pics.

The Gentle Art of the Flatter-Nag

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Much digital ink has been spilled on the subject of diversifying the speaker pool at tech events, and in particular, getting more women to give presentations. (I won’t rehash that conversation here, and if you don’t think diversity at tech conferences is important, this post isn’t for you.)

I want to share a simple technique I use to try to get more awesome women speaking at events I care about. And it’s pretty simple. I contact all the women I know who have expertise in the subject at hand – often WordPress – and encourage them to speak.

It’s so simple, but it works. Very often women let self-doubt take over, and need that extra nudge to submit a talk. A friendly word or two of encouragement is often all it takes.

Behold: The Flatter-Nag

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flattery battery courtesy of roadsidepictures

One of my friends who I recently prodded to submit a talk to a local conference gave my technique a name I think is quite apt:

Flatter-nagging: Asking someone to do something while simultaneously complimenting them.

Sometimes, they respond that they’d been thinking of applying, but weren’t sure what to pitch. So I help them brainstorm ideas – starting with the simple question “What are you most passionate about when it comes to WordPress” – and that usually helps to narrow down the topic pretty quickly.

Sometimes, the reaction is more like, “Who, me?” They don’t feel like they know enough to speak publicly about WordPress. What I find fascinating is this response has come from people who help users troubleshoot WordPress issues all day! (It’s amazing how we take our knowledge for granted, myself included.)

I gently remind them that they surely know more than they think, and that people love hearing speakers share what they’re passionate about.

If this is an issue you care about, try out my technique sometime – or share it with others. I hope you’ll find it simple, but effective.