I attended WordCamp Miami 2019 a couple weeks ago. During that time, my Twitter account unleashed a flood of live-tweeted takeaways.
Most of those tweets came from the detailed notes I was taking. This habit of sharing highlights and commentary during conferences is my way of staying engaged and breaking the ice with other attendees. (I’m terrible at networking.)
Beyond that, the consolidated notes, tweets, and photos also make for a great post-event asset. Especially when it’s focused on the evergreen aspects of the information, like actionable advice, learnings, and follow-up notes.
So that’s what I did with WordCamp Miami. Instead of posting a typical “recap” blog post, I led with what most potential readers would care about:
Yes, the post is still a recap. But it’s not about the event. It’s about the value that came out of the event. The insights, the lessons, the conversation.
These details are partly why people attend conferences like this in the first place. So if I can capture some of that, and put it back out into the community, I feel like that’s a decent way of paying it forward.
I’d love to see similar recaps coming out of other conferences. It’s more practical than watching all the recorded sessions. So how do you do it? I have a five step approach that I bust out every time.
Decide what to cover.
Make a game plan before you attend the event. You’re probably doing this anyway by listing the sessions you want to sit in on. If you’re attending on behalf of others, consider what information they’re interested in.
I attended WordCamp Miami on behalf of GoDaddy, so I went in with plans to cover sessions targeting freelance web designers and developers. This is the same crowd we serve through our GoDaddy Pro program, so I wanted to pull together notes that’d serve them.
Build the hype in advance.
Look for other people already talking about the event. Get in there. Reach out. Start conversations. Reply to questions. Ask questions. Set up coffee meetings. Share resources related to the event.
If you get on the ground early, take photos! Set the atmosphere, not just of the event but of where the event takes place.
I’m a sucker for indie coffee and maker communities, so I try to scout out local cafes and artisan markets. I did this quite a bit in the lead up to WordCamp US last year. I hit a bunch of local coffee shops before the event, snapping photos of our little GoDaddy Pro mascot.
Take notes during sessions.
Capture the gist, not the verbatim. You don’t need to transcribe everything word-for-word. If you have some thoughts of your own to throw in — or follow-up questions you’d like to ask — make note of those, too. It’s a lot like sitting in on a class in college.
If you’re going to tweet during the event, make sure you grab the speaker’s Twitter handle. Cite them on any direct quotes, or give credit if you’re paraphrasing. If they check their notifications after their session, they’re more likely to follow up with a reply, a like, or a retweet. Those can spiral out into great follow-up conversations.
Consolidate your notes.
After the event, go through your notes, adding structure and consolidating similar points. The blog post that comes out of it will be a reference, not a narrative.
Make it easy to skim. Group related points together into sections under subheadings. Embed photos and tweets (not just your own!) throughout. It’ll break up the wall of text, and highlight other community members who participated in the conversation.
Chances are you’ll blend together takeaways from different speakers. So unless you’re pulling a direct quote from a specific individual, give credit to them collectively.
I did this in my WordCamp Miami recap by linking to all of the speakers’ sites, slides, or Twitter handles in the opening paragraphs of the post.
Hit publish, but keep sharing.
After you publish the post, reach out to everyone you cited and thank them. Don’t expect anything out of this — you’re just doin’ it because it’s the right thing to do. If they happen to share the post, awesome. But don’t make that your intention here.
Also: Those juicy tidbits you’ve collected into a single blog post are great excerpts in their own right.
Using a tool like Buffer, you can go through your post and share individual excerpts as standalone posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc…
Keep it going.
Let me be clear here. This is a community thing. The more we cover events like WordCamps (and PodCamps, and other industry conferences and events), the more mileage we’ll get out of shared knowledge and experiences.
I love that recorded sessions are a thing. I love that speakers publish their slides. But that’s a lot of information to get through. Notes — including commentary and observations and related thoughts — are a beautifully digestible remix of all that information.
So get out there! Take notes and pass them along.
I mean, that’s why the web was created in the first place, right?
I’m fundraising for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Can you contribute? (Every donation helps!)
Are you a cyclist? Join the ride.