Speaking to a bigger audience

Last week, I had the privilege of giving a lightning talk at WordCamp US in Nashville, TN.

It’s not a surprise that speaking at a much larger event is a very different experience from speaking at my local WordCamp. One thing that stands out as odd is that I really have no idea who was in the room aside from the ten people in the very front. At WordCamp Raleigh, I can see every person in the room, and I remember almost all of them (or it feels that way). With no Q&A after the lightning talk, it felt so much less like a conversation. It was all much more… anonymous.

My talk was about compassion and it was aimed at developers. I was quite concerned that my lack of experience in the freelance, agency, and small startup world would translate into a talk that would be tone-deaf to my intended audience. I can’t really guarantee that having compassion in your heart while writing code is going to be good for the bottom line. I mean I think that if a site doesn’t work for people who are blind / using a crappy old phone / cognitively impaired due to, say, the sleep deprivation that all new parents experience – then you are probably leaving money on the table, but I can’t speak from experience and say that it is definitely so.

But, you know, without a Q&A I wasn’t called on that by anyone. What I did hear, later, in the hall, was that non-developer business owners in the audience want the developers they work with to watch the recording of my talk. And that makes me feel quite chuffed.

I am considering taking the background information I compiled and material that I edited out to keep it to time, and applying to give a longer version at my local WordCamp. I would actually like to have that conversation, even though it might be uncomfortable.