A HUGE thank you goes out to everyone who submitted at talk for WordCamp Sacramento 2017.
Without members of our local community and the WordPress community at large volunteering their time to prepare and deliver a talk (and pay their own way to travel to the event), we wouldn’t have the high-caliber content that you have come to expect from WordCamp Sacramento.
We appreciate you applying to speak!
This year we received 96 session applications for WordCamp from 81 different speakers.
As the talk submissions have come in one after another, I have been getting more and more excited about the event. So many proposed talks are outstanding and highly valuable. Also more women than ever before have submitted talks! It’s going to be very hard to make the speaker selections this year and narrow it down to around 35 speaking positions.
In the vein of full transparency, I wanted to share a little bit with you about the WordCamp speaker selection process, providing a peek behind the scenes.
Speaker Selection Process
As you can imagine, 96 submissions is a lot to go through.
Last year we had all of the WordCamp talk topic submissions written on color-coded sticky notes and stuck on a large poster board. A committee reviewed all of the talk topics together, and as talks were selected they were moved to a new poster board where we could order and reorder them to create the individual tracks.
We were constantly digging through paper submissions though to read the descriptions. It was a bit of a pain, so this year I organized and color-coded all of the talk submissions including the title and description.
This year we decided to anonymize the selection process. In the photo below, you’ll see all of the talks organized and prepped for the speaker selection committee meeting. I did a cursory review of all talks, read every bio, checked out every website. This way our due diligence is done to ensure we’re creating the best possible event. After that, all talks were completely anonymized, so the only information the selection committee sees is the Talk Title and Description.
This approach ensures we evaluate the talks based on topic and fit with the tracks only, and who the people are, where they work, what their experience level is, or what they do is never a factor. The same goes for race, gender or any other identifying factor.
Each color represents a content focus, like development, design, business, content/user. We’ve also gathered all of the lightning talks to created cohesive lightning talk sessions. As talks are selected they’ll be moved to a master board/paper that we can order/reorder as needed to create awesome tracks for our attendees.
Accounting For Multiple Talks
If someone submitted multiple talks, all talks from that person have a matching small shape in the upper right corner.
So Jane Doe who submitted 3 talks may have a triangle in the top corner of each talk she submitted.
This approach helps us make sure each speaker is selected for only one talk/session, and more members of our community get the opportunity to share their expertise and wisdom with us at WordCamp. It also helps us make decisions when comparing two talk submissions on the same topic, because one person may have other talks they can be considered for.
After the speaker selection committee makes their selections. The final schedule will be created and we’ll then begin to arrange the sessions into cohesive tracks to serve our attendees the best. Our goal is to balance the content so every attendee finds helpful information that will move them forward and highlight local talent.
This Is Pretty Low Tech
Yes. This is the most low tech you can get. I haven’t used a glue stick this much in a long, long time. But sometimes the low tech way is the easiest way, and to be honest, I like low tech.
Everyone working on WordCamp is volunteering their time above and beyond their normal full time jobs, side hustles, and families. None of us have time to waste. With this approach, our speaker selection committee can come together one time, view all submissions visually as a whole, talk about them, make the selections, and be done in one meeting that lasts only 1-2 hours.
Every person who submitted a talk for WordCamp Sacramento 2017 will hear from Jen Meyer, our 2017 Speaker Wrangler, no later than May 19, letting you know if your talk submissions was selected or not.
All selected speakers will be asked to complete their acceptance interview no later than May 26, 2017.
We chased down applicants who didn’t respond to their acceptance for weeks last year and we simply don’t have time to do that again. Any sessions not confirmed by May 26 will be given to the alternate sessions selected.
WordCamp is important to us and we want it to be important to our speakers too.