What a whirlwind! I wanted to put together a few notes from my speaking engagements this year. I’m hoping they might be of use to any of you trying to do the same.
Compuware Thought Leadership
I gave my first public presentation this past July to our local Compuware office (Thought Leadership). Needless to say, I overshot the amount of material I could pack into one session. I had previously decided that I wanted the talk to be on Dependency Injection, but I knew that without a healthy dose of OO, the material on DI wouldn’t be all that valuable.
I ended up spending most of the time explaining some OO concepts with DI as a segway at the end.
I was very well prepared (with a stack of Powerpoint slides), but didn’t do a good job packaging my sample code for the people who attended (and wanted a copy).
Looking back, I’m ok with the fact that I didn’t get too deep into DI. I think I did the right thing for the situation. I do think, however, I tried to pack too much information into one session. Some presenters have the Information Overload style, which I think accurately reflects that talk.
Lessons Learned: Avoid Information Overload, Less is More with Powerpoint, Make sure to have a good ratio of Visual Studio to Powerpoint time
For my second talk, I did a last minute entry over at the Nashville BarCamp in August. The talk was on Agile Development, and felt pretty much the opposite of my first. If my first talk was characterized by being overprepared and overstuffed with information, my second talk was quite the opposite. I spent a lot of time deciding on what I wanted to communicate, but I wanted to pull back on the reins a bit.
While I do think I said a lot of what I wanted to say, I don’t think I effectively communicated it to the audience. While I successfully avoided the slide-per-minute logjam, I didn’t have anything to communicate to my audience visibly.
It was an interesting experience. The BarCamp had a decidely marketing feel to it, so I wasn’t speaking to a good target audience for Development Methodology.
Lessons Learned: Some Visual Aid is Necessary, Double Check Conference Agendas to get a feel for the target audience
Nashville Agile Users Group
A few days following the Nashville BarCamp, I spoke at the Nashville Agile Users Group. The title of the presentation was “Agile in the Enterprise”. Given that our Agile group was really small, I felt comfortable giving a talk about a topic I have spent quite a bit of time studying this past year: messaging and event-driven systems.
I had a fairly decent amount of powerpoint, and spent some time whiteboarding. By the end, the presentation had drifted into a full-fledged discussion. When it was over, I had several people tell me they greatly enjoyed the presentation. I, too, had learned some new things from those around me. Win/Win
Looking back, I should have spaced those two talks apart more. I would have done better on each if I had. I was happy with the result I got from speaking at the User Group, but I think it could have been even better, with a bit of polishing.
Lessons Learned: You need several weeks between new presentations, Don’t read from Powerpoint, Engaging the audience is a good thing
Tulsa Tech Fest
I was very happy to be given the chance to speak at Tulsa Tech Fest 2007 in October. I think, by far, it was my best presentation. The talk was entitled “A Beginners Introduction to TDD”. You might notice the emphasis on the introductory nature of the talk (“beginners introduction”), and that was on purpose. Prior to the talk, I spent time crafting only a handful of slides with meaningful or catchy photos (hat tip to Dave Laribee for help with the slides). I also took the time to do a screencast of my code demo the week before.
Needless to say, I think the presentation delivered the correct balance of Visual Studio time and Powerpoint time. And it didn’t hurt when JetBrains gave me a free license of ReSharper to give away at the end.
Lessons Learned: Giveaways Rock, Screencasting the Code Demo beforehand make you uber confident, Well prepared Powerpoint presentations are an asset, Delivering a well-crafted presentation can be a very satisfying activity
Looking Into 2008
In 2008 I hope to replicate the balance I found giving my presentation in Tulsa, while trying to improve it even more. Having given 4 presentations in the past 6 months, I’m going to give myself the goal of giving 6 well-crafted presentations in 2008.
I’ll be starting the year off right with another presentation to our local Compuware office this month.
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