The Benefits of a Good Conference Introduction

Many technical conferences have no speaker introductions or very poor introductions.  “Next up is, um *look at phone* Aaron who will be talking about, um *look at screen* The Next Big Thing”.  While this does serve the benefit of helping people make sure they are in the room they intend to be in, it doesn’t do anything to help the crowd get ready for the talk or help the speaker get ready to deliver a talk.  A good introduction on the other hand gives the speaker ethos.

Ethos is one of three components of persuasion that Aristotle identified in his treatise Rhetoric. Ethos serves as the ethical appeal.  It’s the standing a speaker has.  A good introduction explains not who a speaker is, but why they have the privilege of standing up there and presenting. When you introduce a speaker, you give them credibility. This allows them to immediately focus on logos and to a lesser degree pathos. These are Aristotle’s categories for logical and emotional appeals.

At WordCamp NYC 2014, I introduced Boone Gorges, the keynote speaker.  Let’s breakdown my introduction:

At WordCamp NYC 2010, John James Jacoby introduced our next speaker as a core committer to BuddyPress. Today, I get to introduce him as the lead developer of BuddyPress and our keynote speaker.

I am establishing him as someone with a history at the event and as someone with a prominent place in the community.

During the intervening four years, he has become a full time freelance developer, released dozens of free plugins to the WordPress community and has spent thousands of unpaid hours doing development work contributing to open source software projects.

Boone’s talk was going to focus on contributions to WordPress and the role that freelance developers have in the creation of WordPress. By mentioning his work as a full time freelancer and his contributions to the WordPress project, he can be seen right away as someone who knows about the topic. He has lived it.

He has accomplished all of this while also finishing 46th in 2014 National Crossword Tournament.

I knew that one thing Boone would mention was that he had been in the room this address was before, so I helped him establish this by mentioning his excellent placement in the National Crossword Tournament.

He secretly wishes that he has a masters degree in philosophy. He also grew up in Wisconsin, which is known more for its cheese and beer than the semi-pro football team that plays in Green Bay.

Boone isn’t just a developer, he is a person and someone who has studied philosophy. He also likes a bad football team 😀.

Please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, Boone Gorges.

I create the expectation with the audience that we are beginning.  That I am leaving so they should cheer.

If you are planning a conference, you should spend some time thinking about the introductions.  If you don’t know the speaker well enough, perhaps you can ask them to write a first draft.  If you don’t know why the speaker is going to be getting up there, perhaps you should ask yourself why they are speaking at your event.

My First WordPress Meetup

Macbook, a pen and notebook, and a smartphone

I was so scared the first time I attended a WordPress meetup. After working on a project for nearly a month, I was stuck and had no idea where to turn. Many of us have been there, especially when we are starting out. I needed help if I wanted to go farther. My friend Cory Miller has quoted an african proverb about this: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  I had gone fast, but I needed some help to go farther.

Before my first meetup I was an idler in the #wordpress IRC channel and didn’t feel like I belonged. I’d like to say that attending that day changed everything, but to be honest, nothing changed for a while. I went because I was stuck and I had a question.  At the end, during open Q&A, I asked a question that likely wasn’t very clear as it didn’t elicit many responses, but was told that I should post on the wp-hackers mailing list with it. I went home and did just that.

Attending that first meetup made it easier to attend the next month and the month after that.  Soon, attending the meetups become normal for me and I looked forward to seeing Devin, Michael, Kathleen, and the rest of the regulars.  I had found my way into a community.

Looking back on my journey with WordPress, I can’t help but be thankful that on that April day I decided to go far.

I’m speaking at WordCamp Europe 2015

Avatars of the eight WordCamp Europe Speakers Announced today
Along with Tenko Nikolov, Silvan Hagen, Wouter Groenewold , Juliette Reinders Folmer, Eric Mann , Daniel Pataki , Bryce Adams who all were announced today as speakers at WordCamp Europe 2015

We have another group of speakers to introduce you to today. They come from across the WordPress community and around the world. We hope you’re as excited as we are about seeing them in Seville in just a few months!

Source: Welcome to another group of WordCamp Europe speakers | WordCamp Europe 2015

I’m excited to be heading to Seville this June to present at WordCamp Europe.  This is going to be my first time presenting to the European WordPress community.  I’m hoping to meet a number of people I’ve never met and also to hear about all the exciting things other people are working on.

Thirty Two

For the fifth time, I’m an integer power of 2. I don’t remember much (or anything) from when I was 2, but I’m sure I was excited to play with trains. I also don’t have many memories of being 4, but I know I attended the Niles Park District pre-school and owned pretty awesome linen suit. When I was 8 I was excited to fall asleep with my clock radio listening to the White Sox games. I also started the 3rd grade, my last year at Stevenson Elementary. At 16 I started working as a lifeguard. That summer I went to my first outdoor concert and got my driver’s license. It was the first summer where I regularly stayed out late and was also the age I first heard about Northern Michigan University. Power of 2 years have been pretty good.

31 was also a good year. It was the year I moved in with my love, the year I spoke overseas for the first time, and the year I was trusted with commit to WordPress core. On both personal and professional levels, 31 has been a good year.

32 is shaping up to be another good year. Professionally, I’m going to be giving the keynote at WordCamp Philly (and speaking at some other exciting places to be announced), and will be working on some exciting things. Personally I’m excited for all the travel I have planned and to spend my first summer as a Jersey resident heading down to the shore.

This is going to be my last power of two birthday for a while which makes me wonder what things will be like when I’m 64.

WordPress 4.2 Field Notes 

WordPress 4.2 includes both new and improved features. It also includes changes under the hood.  While I’m sure you’ve been testing your themes, plugins, and sites in preparation for the release, you may have missed the announcements of all the changes. Here is a quick rundown of developer related things you should know:

Source: WordPress › WordPress 4.2 Field Notes « Make WordPress Core

For the second release in a row, I put together some Field Notes to help developers for the Make WordPress Core blog.  The most fun thing I found is that in 4.2 231 bugs reported vs previous versions of WordPress were fixed. This is up from 174 in 4.1.  Every release WordPress improves.

I am this years WordCamp Philly Keynote Speaker

cheesesteak wapuu
Cheesesteak Wapuu designed by Tracy Levesque

We’re pleased to announce that Aaron Jorbin will be the Keynote speaker for WordCamp Philly 2015!

Source: WordCamp Philly Keynote Speaker – Aaron Jorbin | WordCamp Philly 2015

On Saturday, I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in presenting the Keynote address at WordCamp Philly.  I didn’t have to think very long.  WordCamp Philly has long been one of my favorite WordCamps.  It’s a great community and they put on a solid event year after year. On a personal note, It’s also the place I met the woman I love.

If you are near Philadelphia, get your ticket today.