My friends and colleagues, MVPs Mark Polino and Mariano Gomez have both posted articles which talk about the behind the scenes of the conference session evaluation process. You need to have a read of their great articles to get an understanding of what is involved for a speaker to present a technical session at Convergence (or any other conference).
I suppose I should give a little background information from my perspective.
My day job as Escalation Engineer for the Microsoft Dynamics GP support team in Asia Pacific focuses on handling support cases and working with my colleagues on their support cases and escalations. I also follow the Partner Forum & Community Forum and respond when I can. Now, when other projects come up, my colleagues are able to cover for me to an extent, but it does place additional pressure on them. We are a team of four engineers and when one person is out doing other things, it makes it hard for the remaining team members. That's why I make special mention of my team in my wrap up posts. Without their support, I could not do the additional projects that the global community sees.
Now, I don't want to add up the hours that go into blogging, but each post can take between 2 and 3 hours to write and even longer for the more technical posts. So far the blog has over 670 posts, most of which are written by me. You can do the arithmetic.
For Convergence alone, about 40 hours of work went into our material and session preparation. The materials actually have many more hours of work in them because we started with the materials used in previous conferences and improved, updated and extended them. The slide decks that we actually present are just a summary of the entire presentation and are also accompanied by a comprehensive word document with all the information from the sesson and much more. We also provide all the code samples used in both the presentation and in the documentation.
On top of the session materials for Convergence, I wanted to have some new features to show off for the Support Debugging Tool. So far, development of Build 15 has added another 64 hours to the total 917 hours recorded since 2008. Build 15 is not finished yet and so I am still working on it in my spare time or when my case load slows down.
Once all the preparation is completed and the Conference starts, then it is time to meet with lots of people and to present our work for you. At a conference where you will have people at all levels of experience, it is very hard to please everyone. We try our best to set the level advanced enough to keep experienced attendees interested, while still being of value to beginners. This is an extremely difficult balancing act and I am happy if attendees at both ends of the spectrum can walk away with at least one gem of new knowledge.
Mariano and I have a lot of fun presenting and try to make what can be dry and boring, fun and enjoyable while still providing lots of information. We have been working on improving the flow of our presentations to keep them exciting. From the feedback we have received, the changes we have made are working.
Feedback. We receive lots of verbal feedback during the conference and especially directly after the sessions. While all this is great, it is not something that "Management" sees. To keep us coming back to the conferences, the attendees need to let the "powers that be" know what they thought of the sessions. The mechanism for this is evaluations.
So, here is the request..... Please make sure you fill in your evaluations for the conference. However, I do have some other requests:
All the evaluations are anonymous, so we can't tell who submitted what, but we did get one attendee give Mariano and I all 1's for our first Support Debugging Tool session with no comment as to why. Sadly, this drags our overall scores down and provides no way we can improve.
Here are some of the highlights from the evaluations comments from our sessions:
And a final point: Yes, our goal is to get invited back for the next conference by achieving the best session of the conference (and hopefully beating Mark's session scores).
I'm sure you did a great score this year too... How are your sessions ranked so far (against Mark :-) ) ?
I'm sure the attendee that scored all 1's did either probably misunderstood the scoring scale or was a just a jerk, because even if you don't understand a penny of what's talken during the session, then it is because you chosed the wrong one or you really have nothing to do at Convergence...
Have a great time and continue to spend some of your 'precious' hours in this great tool.
Posting from Mark Polino at DynamicAccounting.net
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