The second edition of WordSesh EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) is happening in less than 48 hours on September 2. The virtual event’s schedule is tailored to attendees living in the Eastern hemisphere. In its first year running, WordSesh EMEA attracted a solid turnout of close to 1,000 attendees and was the proving ground for future regional WordSesh events. With WordCamp Europe cancelling in-person events until 2022, WordSesh EMEA is another way to highlight voices in the European WordPress community with a global audience.
“There were definitely enough people at the inaugural WordSesh EMEA event that it was clear I needed to do it again, and expand into an APAC event,” organizer Brian Richards said.
Richards had WordSesh APAC (Asia/Pacific) on the schedule for the end of March, right when the pandemic was breaking out. WordCamp Asia had just been cancelled the month before, as he was preparing to announce speakers for the WordSesh.
“I worked with the WCAsia organizers to invite as many speakers to speak as I could,” Richards said. “I ended up helping run a Feb 22 pop-up livestream event to host several of them and invited the remainder to join me on a second full day of sessions at WordSesh.”
Six months later, many WordCampers have had their fill of online events after months of mandated lockdowns and voluntary quarantining. Any new virtual event announced is immediately in competition with outdoor activities and hobbies that attendees could be engaging in away from the computer. Nevertheless, Richards has seen a threefold increase in signups over the previous year.
“There are 3,200 folks registered currently, and we’re on track to have 3,500 by the time things kick off on Sept 2nd,” he said.
“I’ve been extremely mindful of virtual event fatigue for this one. This time around, the event is designed to fit inside an 8-hour span, inclusive of breaks, and no single session is longer than 20 minutes (plus Q&A).”
Whereas the previous WordSesh events were somewhat novel in that they gave attendees 24 hours of free live streaming WordPress presentations, pandemic era virtual events are evolving to eat up less of attendees’ free time. Organizers are now opting for scheduling fewer speakers for more manageable sections of time, or requiring them to give more condensed versions of their presentations.
“I worked with the speakers to compress their talks into 20 minutes instead of the historical 40 minutes of years past,” Richards said. “I’ve been developing a theory that case studies and micro-tutorials are the most optimal format for a conference talk, though, and I’m going to test that idea more thoroughly in future events.”
The schedule features 13 sessions on topics ranging from plugin development to client management to marketing with multisite networks. Whether you are a PHP developer learning how to navigate the world of blocks or an event planner seeking resources for the pandemic pivot, there’s a session for everyone.
The talks will be a mix of live and pre-recorded, all broadcast live at their set times with speakers joining for Q&A after each session.
“Most will be pre-recorded to eliminate any technical risks during the event (e.g. internet outage, power outage, and all the many various life emergencies),” Richards said. “This also offers a nice bonus of the speaker being able to interact with the chat during their talk.”
WordSesh EMEA will introduce a temporary job board, reminiscent of the kind one might find on a whiteboard in the hallway at a traditional WordCamp.
“Attendees can share whether they are hiring or looking for work in an entirely free-form format,” Richards said. “The entire board will be accessible to attendees throughout the live event only. After the event has ended I will capture the final state of the board and share that with everyone who actually attended so they can have a semi-permanent record. I think this is the first time there has ever been anything that only exists for live attendees and nobody else.”
Richards will also be delivering virtual swag to attendees’ inboxes again this year, with substantial discounts to various WordPress shops, hosts, and service providers. If you haven’t signed up yet, you are not too late. Registration is still open until the last minute, and tickets are free.