WordPress.com 101

The last time I spent a whole university class up in front was in 2008 when I was a student in a C++ programming class. The assignment was to first learn thenĀ  teach the rest of my classmates about linked lists. This time instead of software engineering I was trying to engineer happiness by giving a presentation along with a question and answer session for a third year business class on using WordPress.com.

This started about a month ago at the last Refresh Annapolis Valley meetup when I met the Professor and she told me about the assignment she was giving her class. She was having them all make their own website using WordPress. She asked me then if I would come in and talk to the class, I almost said no, but glad I didn’t.

Acadia isn’t a big school and is known for it’s small intimate class sizes with lots of attention from the Instructors. My estimate for this class was about 15-20 people. I showed up a bit early and was waiting outside the class room and it just seemed like more and more people were showing up and going into the class room. It felt like hundreds were going in and I was getting more and more nervous. As it turns out when I went in and counted there were only 35 students, still more than I figured though.

The instructor, Cindy Trudel, was great though. I had let her know I’m not a fan of being up in front of people so she helped a lot introducing and leading the Q&A session. They all had their account created and site setup so I started in walking through setting up Pages & Posts and setting a static Front Page and Posts page and covered some other starting WordPress tasks. From there we went into answering specific questions they had. Most were general enough that I could answer in general for everyone, but there were a few that were more individual so I went directly to them to help.

As I started going I felt more and more comfortable and in the end I feel it went really well. It was actually really cool helping a group of people in real life instead of one at a time through my computer. Although I’m much more at easy that way, this was a valuable experience. There were certainly things I learned and will be better prepared for in the future. One small thing will be that, for something similar, I’ll start with a blank test site and a set of images all set ready to go to choose from.

If felt like to me that everyone received something out of the class today and we left it open for the possibility for me to come back in the future either with this class or a future one. Getting to be the one to introduce a group of people to something I believe in and something that they will end up being a great skill for some of them to have is a little humbling. With the web being so prevalent in almost everything in these days, having familiarity with the software that powers 24.6% of it can only be a good thing.

Public Speaking

Like many, or most people public speaking is a bit of a phobia of mine. It’s not one that I can’t get over, but certainly not something I enjoy. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to get up in front of people but that’s going to change soon.

Over the past little bit I’ve had a few offers to talk about WordPress in particular, I’ve never come out and given straight answer on whether I would do it or not. Deep down I want to be able to these sorts of things but it is just so uncomfortable. So I leave the door open but never come right out and jump in.

That’s going to end soon. It’s good to get out your comfort zone and do things that are hard, it will help me grow. The first time coming up will kind of force me into it. At our coming all company get together each of us will do a flash talk. It can be pretty short and about any topic we want so that makes it easier, but it is still in front of a bunch of people most of who I have never met before.

I’m also going to commit to doing a talk at our local Refresh Annapolis Valley meetup that we do once a month. The organizer of the new WordPress meetup in Halifax has helped me work out a good topic for me to talk about at a future event there as well.

Hopefully when I get a few of these under my belt I’ll feel better about doing it more often. Talking about and helping people with WordPress is something I really enjoy doing either one on one or in small groups. If I can do that with even more people it will be even better.