When you’re organising a WordCamp, there is one word that’s more important than any other: delegate.
Or, you can expand that out to: find good people, and delegate everything to them.
This can be hard, particularly if you’re someone who likes to get stuff done quickly or who likes to always be on top of everything that’s going on.
However, WordCamps are not made by one person alone. The strongest WordCamps are made of a team of people who work together. There are lots of reasons why delegating to a team is important:
- WordCamps are organised by volunteers and sometimes people have work or life commitments that take over. Having a team prevents this from having a major impact on the event.
- it creates a clear line of accountability for different aspects of the event. The speaker person makes sure speakers happen, the sponsor person stays on top of sponsors.
- it means the workload is shared between multiple people and no one becomes overwhelmed.
- it provides experience to newer organisers who will be able to take the helm in future years. Now that lead WordCamp organiser can only hold that position for two years, this becomes even more important.
The roles differ from WordCamp to WordCamp, though some are always the same. Below is a version of the list that I post to a WordCamp team in the early planning stages of a WordCamp:
Responsible for overseeing speaker selection, liaising with speakers, and supporting speakers throughout the event:
- working with the team to come up with a list of invited speakers
- creating the speaker application form
- posting the call for speakers
- managing speaker selection (everyone will be given their say but someone needs to oversee it)
- sending out rejection and acceptance emails
- make sure the speakers provide all of their details
- add all of the speakers to the website
- post speaker announcements
- reviewing slides
- other speaker-related stuff that comes up
Responsible for finding sponsors and keeping them happy :
- working with the team to come up with a list of things that sponsors get
- posting the call for sponsors
- contacting potential sponsors (or working with team members who can make use of their connections)
- collecting details about sponsors
- ensuring that sponsors have everything they need at the event
- thanking sponsors and getting their details on the website
Responsible for all aspects of the contributor day.
- opening sign-ups
- identifying leads for different areas
- deciding on format
- choosing catering
Responsible for video and photography.
- finding volunteer photographers
- managing the video recording of the sessions
- ensuring all videos are uploaded to WordPress.tv
Responsible for the website design and all swag.
- designing and building the website
- designing the logo
- designing name badges
- designing any banners, signs, and promotional material
Content & Communication
Responsible for ensuring all content is on the website and that there are regular posts to the blog.
- coming up with a content strategy
- posting regularly to the blog
- ensuring that all other leads have got relevant info on the site (e.g. speakers, sponsors)
- posting all event related content to the site (dates, location, party details, etc)
- managing social media
Recruit volunteers and oversee them at the event.
- recruit volunteers
- put together volunteer schedule
- assign volunteer roles
- manage volunteers on the day
Plan the social activites
- organise the speaker dinner
- organise the social event
Some of these roles will overlap, and sometimes the lead organiser will end up taking on additional tasks but it helps if you can delegate as much as possible
The role of the lead organiser
With all of this delegation, what does that leave to the lead organiser? Can you just sit back and let everyone get on with the work? Sadly not – you’ll end up doing a huge amount of work yourself. For one, you’ll end up picking up all of the things that don’t fit neatly into any of the other roles. So everything from booking catering, to working with the venue, to liaising with WordCamp central, to scheduling, to putting together the budget and managing the finances. you’ll also end up picking up the slack if someone is unable to deliver on their tasks. Expect to spend a lot of your time pinging people to say “Hey! where are you on that thing? :)”
But there are other things too: you’re responsible for the overall vision of the event and ensuring that the whole thing comes together on the day. It’s your job to make sure that all of your co-organisers are staying on top of their work and, importantly, that they are having a good experience. WordCamp organisers are volunteers and if you want volunteers to keep coming back then it’s important that they get a lot out of the experience.
And, of course, to mentor new lead organisers in the future, so you can sit back next year (or the year after) and watch someone else do all the work 😀