Michelle Frechette, Director of Community Engagement at StellarWP, has launched a new independent project called WP Speakers that helps event organizers find available speakers for WordPress meetups, WordCamps, podcasts, and other events. The site offers a database of speakers that is free to join and free to search.
When speakers sign up, they include a bio, headshot, location, languages they speak, topics, expertise, and contact information. They can also specify if they identify being from an underrepresented group. In the short amount of time the site has been live, WP Speakers has added 149 registered speakers who are ready and willing to share their WordPress knowledge at both virtual and in-person events.
“As a meetup organizer for my local WordPress meetup, I’m constantly searching for speakers to present,” Frechette said. “On one hand the pandemic made it harder to keep coming up with fresh meetup content, but on the other hand, it allowed me to connect to speakers globally as all of our meetings were moved online. But even with all of the speakers in the world now able to present, it was still hard to think of topics and then source speakers. As well-connected as I am in WordPress, I couldn’t even imagine how much more difficult it might be for someone who didn’t know a lot of speakers personally. So WP Speakers was born.”
Frechette has a knack for bringing people together and helping them find their place in WordPress. In addition to her open source contributions, she maintains WPCareerPages.com, a site that connects job seekers with WordPress companies, and publishes a weekly tweet thread with available positions.
Frechette is supporting her efforts on the project through sponsorship funds, which allow her to keep the resource free.
“It’s important to me that the ability to belong on the site as well as be able to search for speakers always remains free,” she said. “That way no one is denied from being able to participate. A resource like this should be available to all.”
Frechette plans to continue adding to the speaker resource page and an event organizer resource page is next on the roadmap. Anyone who wants to be listed on the site can fill out the “Join As a Speaker” form and new profiles will be approved in 1-3 business days.
While I think Michelle is awesome.
If organizers can’t find talent in their cities/regions then the issue is with the organizers.
I remember the time when WordCamps were about the local community. Not having WordCamp Miami having speakers from California, Washington or Alaska. THIS IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. WordCamp Miami should look at the Miami area for speakers.
Certain speakers that go from WordCamp to WordCamp speaking are really promoting themselves. Taking the spot of local talent.
It could also help to PAY speakers. Oh em gee, I just committed the biggest sin by suggesting it. People come from different financial backgrounds. Even an honorarium. Many conferences pay the speakers. Having to fly/drive/take bus/train/etc…costs money then hotel accommodations, meals? That could easily cost $1,000 depending on where you go.
So much talent can’t come speak. It shouldn’t cost speakers money to speak.
Same for local meetup groups, renting a room can cost money.
I am not the first nor the last to suggest this. Though the whole travel and hotel costs can be saved by having local talent I guess. Instead of someone from NYC speaking in LA or Tucson speaking at Buffalo. Etc…
Some of the more “popular” people speak at events. I volunteered at WCTO years ago, had a wonderful time. I never applied to speak at WCTO or other WCs. I honestly have no idea.
Anyways, maybe it would encourage if not the same rotating people speak at WordCamps all the time?
I can’t remember the year but I saw Michelle speak at WCTO and I think I did the zoom thing for her local meetup groups. I was going around trying different communities.
I am not saying this about Michelle but I hope in any of these kind of projects, the “populars” are not given preference.
Give others a chance. I can’t remember the last time I saw an Eastern European or Latino speak at WordCamps (both my ancestries).