Speaking remotely at WordCamp US


WordCamp US took place at the beginning of this month and we had rtCamper Muhammad Muhsin as a speaker at the event. Muhammad spoke about “Using WordPress with Static Site Generators” along with Jason Bahl, a software engineer at Gatsby, as a co-presenter. Here is Muhammad’s account of his entire journey.

It was mid-April when I saw my friends on Twitter tweeting that they had just applied to speak at WordCamp US. I checked it out and realized that the deadline for the application was the very next day. But I thought why not give it a shot because, as the Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky put it – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, right?

Not sure why, but I didn’t have much hope that I would get a chance to speak at WCUS.

Anyway, I had started using Gatsby with WordPress last year and I had some experience with it as a freelancer and while working on So, I applied for one full-length talk and another lightning talk on the topic “Using WordPress With Static Site Generators”.

I had started at rtCamp as a React Developer in May and I was busy working on some exciting projects. It was late July when my friends (again) were tweeting out the results of their application to WCUS. It got me curious and I checked my inbox to see if I had received any response. And to my utter surprise, there was an email from WordCamp US with the subject: “WCUS Speaker Acceptance”!

I informed some of my fellow rtCampers about the good news. After signing the A/V form and agreement, it was officially announced and I was finally able to say it out loud on Twitter.

Thus began my preparations for WCUS. 💪

One of the perks of working at rtCamp is that they encourage us to participate in events and they cover the entire cost of it. It includes a full sponsorship to rtCampers who speak at industry events which include WCUS. Joel Lobo helped me with my visa application process, hotel booking, and more. Some of my friends from Colombo also gave me some travel advice.

My interview at the US embassy was held in September but when I went there, I got to know that my visa was rejected. Although it was not the good news which I had expected, I did not despair. I emailed Tessa Kriesel, Programming Lead at WCUS asking if they are willing to consider a remote talk from me – perhaps even a recorded one. Jason Bahl, who was asked to take my place also liked to have me speak remotely.

After some discussions between the WCUS organizers, my lightning talk was extended to a full-length talk with two speakers – Jason Bahl and myself. I began preparing my slides and my talk. Vivek Jain, rtCamp’s co-founder gave me some tips to make my slides look better.

It was October when I started recording my talk. I received a ton of feedback and encouragement from my friend and colleague, Imran Sayed on how to improve my talk and do it better. Once I had a decent take, my colleague Sudeep helped with some light edits to the video. It was a week before WCUS when I submitted my video to Jason and the WordCamp organizers.

It was finally the 1st of November and I was so excited to watch my own talk over the WCUS live stream! As I was in India at that time, it meant that my talk would go live at 2.45 am on the 2nd of November. I wanted to take a light nap (could hardly sleep, to be honest) and get up to watch my live stream on the iPad. I was super glad when everything went smoothly in Room 240 at St. Louis.

Jason made a fantastic complement to my talk with a live demo and a QnA. Presenting with Jason was the best thing I could ask for to make up for my inability to travel to WCUS. 😀

If you want to catch the live stream action from our talk at WordCamp US, please click here.

You can click here to see what people had to say about it on Twitter.

Matt Mullenweg at WCUS 2015

If you had taken the homework assignment from 4 years ago, you’d find it delightful to work with Gatsby. If not, why not start now? Rumor has it that Gatsby is rather welcoming to newcomers!

On a closing note, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in making my remote talk a success. This is another reason why I love the WordPress community – everyone I interacted with was welcoming and kind.

Links: Talk video | Slides – Using WordPress with Static Site Generators

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