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Writing the Pitch for your WordPress Talk [and Diversity Speaker Outreach]

This We are keeping track of how many WP groups run the workshops this year. If you're planning on running it, please either let us know here or message @jillbinder on Slack.  

Meetup Description

[If you are presenting this to a specific group, such as people who identify as women, optional sections to add are indicated in [square brackets].]

This is a workshop for {specific group} {or: folks} who are thinking about speaking at WordPress events, such as WordPress Meetup and WordCamp. During this hands-on session, we’ll look at what has stopped you from speaking in the past — and explore how to move past your fears. We will discuss some common myths about public speaking, different talk formats, and we will focus on writing your pitch.

Each participant will come out of the workshop with a WordCamp or meetup talk proposal – and more confidence to submit it.

***You do NOT have to have any experience in public speaking. This workshop is for all levels of experience. This workshop is for you if:

  • [You identify as {specific group}]
  • You’ve thought about speaking at Meetup or WordCamp but haven't written your pitch
  • Or you have pitched to multiple events and haven't gotten accepted
  • Or you want to get better at writing your pitches

This workshop is NOT for you if:

  • [You identify as {not this specific group}]
  • [You don’t think it matters that there are very few {specific group} speakers at WordPress events]


  • Why speak at WordPress events? [Why do we need more {specific group} speaking at them?]
  • Dispelling some myths about speakers/speaking
  • Writing a pitch
  • Coming up with a great title
  • Writing your bio
  • Practice giving a short talk


  • This venue should have [elevators, ramps, etc.], [single stall washrooms for non-binary genders], [etc.].
  • Please do not  wear scents. Many people are allergic to them.

Prerequisite Skills

  • N/A


  • Students will have a better understanding of what makes a successful pitch
  • (If there's time) Students will begin work on their own pitches
  • Students will get optional public speaking practice in a small group to build their confidence
  • Students will understand that there are different types of talk formats
  • Students will understand that many of the fears stopping them from public speaking are myths [especially for {specific group}]
  • [Students will have an understanding of why we need more diversity in our public speakers, including {specific group}]


  • Workbook (link to Google doc) (You may download and edit as needed.)
  • Slides (link to Google doc) (All of the Speaker Training lessons are included. You will start at the top and when you get to a "Which section are you running next?" slide, choose the next lesson you are doing this day. You will definitely want to download and make some edits as there are some instructions for you in the slides themselves.)
  • A large device that can show a countdown timer for the timed speaking presentations, such as an iPad
  • A video recording device, such as an iPad or phone
  • Sign up sheet, clipboard, pen

Screening Questions

  • [Do you identify as {specific group}?]
  • Do you have a possible topic in mind? It does not need to be final, but having something to use for this exercise would be useful.

Teacher Notes

This section repeats from the Teacher Notes in Lesson 1. It's very important. Please read it.  


The first material repeats from Speaker lesson 1, "Finding Your Topic." If you ran lesson 1, start here. If you did not, grab sections from "toilet" to "Talk Formats" from lesson 1, "Finding Your Topic."

Note: The first 2 exercises that follow here are repeated from the last 2 exercises of lesson 1. Only run these once.    

What Kind Of Talk?

Split the room into groups of 4-5.

Please pull out your workbooks. These exercises will be found there.

As we mentioned before, there are different kinds of talks:

  • How To
  • Discussion
  • Panel
  • Story-based
  • Case Study
  • Workshop

Discuss with your group what type of talk you would like to create.

Refining Topic

First, let's refine your topic. Even if you already have a very specific topic in mind, let's do this exercise anyway. We are going to apply “Who, What, Why, How, When, Where.” For example:  If you have a favorite plugin, you can try asking who is this plugin for? What does this plugin do? Why was this plugin created? How does it work? When would you use it? Where would you use it?

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Why
  4. How
  5. When
  6. Where

From this list, can you refine your topic? Is there something more specific on which you’d like to give the talk?

Writing The Proposal aka “Pitch”

Whatever your motivations for speaking, you first need to get selected to speak, and for that you need to create a proposal or “pitch” (we will use the terms interchangeably) that gets your talk selected. Also, since your proposal defines the scope of your talk, it can be a good early step in the overall process of developing your talk.

  • What makes a great one? Here is an example of a good one: (You can substitute this with an example that fits your event.)
    • Responsify All The Things – In our new web multiverse, it’s more important than ever to make your valuable content available to all users, regardless of how they access your site. In this talk, we’ll cover how Responsive Web Design came about, the latest RWD news and trends, and some basic (and not so basic) techniques you can use to make your next WordPress theme a responsive one. Intended for developers and designers who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with a little code.
    • This is good length, tells you what talk will cover, and who it’s aimed at.
  • I don’t hate you, I just hate your code
    • Beware of too-clever titles. The title should stand on its own without a blurb.
  • Example of a bad one: CSS Dreams and Elephants
    • Ask group: What made this title good or not so good?

Generally, your talk proposal and the introduction of your outline will be quite similar. A good introduction should have all the things a good pitch would have. However, in a pitch you might want to spice it up a bit. Ultimately, both the introduction and pitch should contain similar content.

For a pitch however, you want to tailor the tone of your writing and vocabulary to the specific audience and event that you are applying to. This is very important!

Some ideas for how you may tailor your pitch for specific audiences and events:

  • The tone may be different. A business crowd may be formal. A meetup may be more casual. So customize the tone of your pitch to your specific audience.
  • You might want to use different vocabulary depending on the audience.
  • You may want to stress different “hooks” or “points of interest” depending on the audience or event.

There are also 6 important points to take note of when writing both your outline and your pitch


  1. Direct the proposal to the attendees, not the curators. Many conferences use your talk proposal as the description of the talk in their programme. With that in mind, your target reader is the conference attendee who is reading the programme. Tell the reader why your talk will interest them, and what they will learn. The curators want to put together a great conference with compelling talks for their attendees. Your talk will be part of the package they offer, so sell it!Make sure you research the event. Are there different tracks? Who is the audience? Lots of devs? Mostly for users? Design-heavy? Different WordCamps have different personalities. Are they short on really technical presentations? Light on talks for beginners? Try to fill a need (i.e podcasting).

  2. Be specific about the focus your talk will have. Generally speaking, a shallow introduction to many things is not as interesting as an in-depth introduction to one thing. If you discuss the broader topic, do so only to set the context for what you will focus on.

  3. One strategy: Pose the question your talk will answer. Often, talks answer questions that start with “how”, “why”, “when” and so on. An easy trick is to directly ask these questions in your proposal, leaving the reader wondering the answer.

  4. Make your point as succinctly as you can. If your first draft requires more than two paragraphs to get to the point of your topic, edit to slim things down. Take out any words that can be removed without changing the meaning. You may have a lot of competition, so try to make a good impression quickly. If your proposal is too much work to read or understand, it might get skipped during the selection process.

  5. Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you submit a sloppily written proposal, you appear careless and as if you are not taking the opportunity seriously. You risk being rejected on those grounds outright. Speaking requires a lot of thoughtful preparation, and curators can only assume you will be as careless when preparing the talk itself.

  6. Have your proposal reviewed by someone with experience. Just as you might ask a friend to critique a draft of your CV, an essay, or the talk itself, ask someone (ideally a writer, speaker, or curator) to review your talk proposal. They will catch typos, as well as verify whether your proposal explains the scope of your talk, and explains its benefit to your audience.

Coming Up With a Great Title

We need a good title for your talk!

You want to:

  • Try to think of something catchy but explanatory
  • Beware of too-clever titles
  • Create a title that can stand on its own without a blurb (for example don’t use something like “CSS and Elephants”)

We'll give you a chance to work on your titles after we talk about bios.

Writing Your Bio

When you submit a proposal/pitch to an event, you will most often be asked to include a short bio. Bios are often the hardest to write well. But here are some pointers to follow:

  • Should be written in third-person
  • Be succinct but descriptive (shouldn’t be longer than three sentences)
  • Go for economy of words (try to say the most you possibly can with the fewest possible words)
  • Mention what your position or job is and any credentials that might be relevant.
  • Mention how many years you’ve been in this field or if it hasn’t been that many, tell a short story about how you’ve ended up in your new field.
  • Look at past examples for the conference you’re submitting to. Why are you the right person to give this talk?
  • Tailor your bio so your topic makes sense, tweak it differently for events.
  • Be human. WordCamps are not usually too formal.
  • Feel free to add something about your non-professional interests at the end, but don’t make it your entire bio.

Writing Exercise

Everyone will have 15 minutes now to try drafting a talk proposal for the idea they brainstormed earlier, the title, and their bio. There will be a chance to read the title and pitch to the group after, if you wish.  

Present Titles and Pitches

(If this is the last presentation of the day, change the seats into a presentation style format. Chairs all facing the same direction—to the front, where a person will stand to talk.)

Now anyone who wishes will have the opportunity to share their title and pitch with the group. You will have two minutes or less for your mini presentation. There are no expectations. This is not a chance to practice being great; this is just an opportunity to practice being in front of people. You may request receiving feedback if you wish.

(Have each person volunteer themselves by show of hand.)

  • Ask them if they would like us to record them on their phones so they can watch it later.
  • Ask them if they wish for feedback.
  • They may watch their time on the large device (such as iPad).

(Each student will get up and talk.  Time them and make them stop when the time is up.  If they wanted feedback, turn to the room and ask:

  • "What did everyone think was good about this proposal?"
  • "What would make this proposal even better?" )

Sign Up

Do this conclusion once per workshop lessons meetup

Thank you for attending today. We will be passing a sign up sheet (or you will receive an email). If you are interested in speaking at an event,  please sign up to let us know. This is not a commitment, but we will get in touch with you to discuss the possibility of speaking at an upcoming meetup or WordCamp.


This is a workshop for people who are thinking about speaking at WordPress events, such as WordPress Meetups and WordCamps.







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