UPDATE: Both presentations and slides are now embedded and linked below.
This was my first ever Barcamp, so I wasn’t too sure about what to expect. I was traveling to Atlanta on Friday with work, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it to Barcamp Birmingham because we were leaving for the beach on Sunday. My friend Chris talked me into going (and then bailed on me, no hard feelings tho!)
If you’re not familiar with Barcamps, they are a conference without a pre-arranged agenda. Everyone just shows up, some people propose a few topics they’d like to present on, and people decide which sessions they want to see.
I left from Atlanta Friday afternoon and headed straight to Birmingham; it’s about 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta. When I got to Birmingham, I checked into the DoubleTree hotel and got some dinner. I crashed pretty early; I had a really long day. I woke up early at 5 AM and was ready to get going, so I went ahead and showered, checked out of my room, and headed out to find some coffee and breakfast. After a while of searching, it seems there wasn’t much to choose from in the area of coffee shops downtown (none that were open at 6-7 AM anyway) so I ended up getting coffee at McDonald’s and heading on over to Innovation Depot, the host of Barcamp Birmingham ’09.
I helped load in some chairs and setup for registration, then started working on my proposed presentations. I proposed two sessions: “Selling Mobile”, about getting clients to say yes to mobile, and “Online Marketing Inside Out”, a discussion about online marketing, specifically social media and PR, with topics from my book.
I was missing a mini-displayport to VGA adapter, so I couldn’t connect my laptop to the projectors. I asked Jeremy Flint, one of the coordinators of Barcamp B’Ham, and tweeted to see if anyone had an adapter I could borrow. Unfortunately, I spent most of the morning trying to round up an adapter and didn’t adequately prepare for my talk, which ended up being scheduled for 9:45 AM. I managed to throw some slides together while sitting in the Podcasting session at 9AM, and borrowed a laptop for the presentation.
I personally think this was my worst presentation ever. I didn’t have time to rehearse or go over my notes, and I rushed through the presenation in about half the time. I missed a few key points and had to go back and try to explain them, making it a little awkward to follow. Still, I got really positive feedback from the people who attended, so I guess I didn’t bomb that badly. I guess you truly are your worst critic.
After presenting on Mobile, I went to an Introduction to Social Media panel. Not that I need an introduction to social media, but with only three concurrent tracks sometimes it was hard to pick a session to go to. I figured I may get some ideas for my own presentations by going to some similar presentations.
The last session I attended during the morning segment was Tammy Hart’s “Converting a Static Site into a WordPress Theme.” Tammy’s currently authoring a book on WordPress with Packt… she’s a WordPress ninja.
Lunch was catered in and was pretty good. I enjoyed just hanging out and talking to people. After lunch, the afternoon schedule was posted and my online marketing panel was scheduled for 2PM. I decided to run to the Apple Store and grab a video adapter for my presentation. I barely made it back. I think I walked in at about 2:01 PM and setup for my presentation in about 30 seconds.
I think the Online Marketing session went extremely well, filled the time slot and covered a lot of material from the book. I was much more relaxed and felt it was generally a much better presentation… which is great considering that’s a variant of the presentation I’ll be giving several times throughout May and June.
After the Online Marketing session, I went to Mitch Canter’s session on integrating social media tools with WordPress. Mitch is a very engaging presenter. While I knew about half of the plugins and tools he mentioned in his presentation, I got far more from his presentation than most of the others, just in terms of mental notes and tips for my future presentations.
My last panel for the day was another talk about Twitter and social media by Wade Kwon. Wade is also an excellent presenter and really engages the audience, making it fun. Towards the end of his presentation we were told we had to cut it short and get out… the security was apparently only paid through 4PM, and we had to all exit the building. We quickly got together for a group photo (see top) and scattered.
Some of us went over to Shift Workplace for the after party (a little early, it was supposed to start at 6PM). They were nice enough to let us in a bit early, and we mingled there for a while. I was originally going to head out as soon as Barcamp was over, but ended up staying through the whole after party. I finally left Birmingham at around 9 PM to head back to LaGrange. I got home after 1 AM EST.
Overall, Barcamp Birmingham was awesome. I met a ton of great people and really enjoyed the sessions. I also really enjoyed presenting… it’s always good to get practice and with several speaking engagements coming up I needed it!