What you didn’t learn in my interview with Sarah Gooding is how I forgot to bring along an adapter to connect my laptop to the projector for my WPML workshop during WordCamp Paris back in January. It took a half hour and a lot of help to get my computer (where my demo was installed), connected to another to do a split screen, allowing me to work on one side and project on the other. This left me barely 15 minutes to talk to a packed room. I struggled through, already a bit rattled from the delay, wishing I had heeded Chris Lema’s sound advice and prepared a shorter version of my talk.
Basically it was a disaster, but lucky for me, WordCamp attendees are very forgiving. I took away one very important lesson: Be prepared for anything.
I also realized something that I was already getting a glimpse of from the results of the initial survey I had taken: I was being overly ambitious, trying to cover such a vast subject matter (I could give a day-long workshop on WPML) and appeal to such a broad audience (publishers, theme & plugin authors).
Last month I was invited for a do-over at the monthly MeetUp organized by WordPress Ile-de-France. It was a much smaller group and a cozier venue, and this time I was accompanied by Thierry Pigot, one of the group’s organizer’s. Together (with my screen adapter and plenty of time) we delivered a pretty thorough presentation. But about 15 minutes in I started getting the feeling that I was losing a couple of people. I was expecting a more technical crowd to the MeetUp, but it turns out several people were users (not developers) with little technical knowledge.
Catering to both technical and non-technical users is not easy, especially with such proximity – I tend to read faces and adapt to the feedback I get. Are they understanding? Are they bored? Does that person look like they want to ask a question but are too afraid? It’s probably much easier to stick to your original plan from up on a stage where you notice less those up close reactions and might only be bothered by a loud sneeze or someone leaving the room.
That said, it probably shouldn’t be undertaken at all. Because you can’t really go fully into to either subject while trying to cover them both, can you? I want to talk to everyone, but what it comes down to is: you have to choose your audience.
With that in mind I will be reworking my presentation for a decidedly user-oriented audience, really concentrating on set-up, usage and strategy when it comes to building a multilingual site with WordPress. You can bet there will be another MeetUp, and I would love to find other venues to share this knowledge. Could this interest your co-working space? Place of work? School? Let me know, I’d be very interested to hear from you!
Photo: Xavier Borderie