This week I had the opportunity to speak at an internal technical readiness event that takes place at Seattle. This event is called TechReady, and last week was the 10th edition.
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak there on the work I am involved in since the beginning of the 2010 year.
Unfortunately, the speak was not as successful as we expected.
We planned this talk by early January, as we (Tony M. and I) were just on boarding an internal SharePoint team, working on a particular aspect of SharePoint. By these days, the TechReady sessions were almost locked, not to mention SharePoint 2010 track was getting much more sessions’ submissions than allocated slots.
We also were just in the first few days of our mission.
Thanks to BillB, we could manage to get a Webcast recording and a Chat Talk slots to speak. By this time, we had no ideas what we were going to say but had to issue a title and synopsis… We did our best.
Few weeks after that, we had the opportunity to change the title. That was done, but not the way we expected :-) : We asked for title “replacement”, and we got a title “addition”. No need to say the result was not that good.
Coming to organize the contents, we decided to cover the "Why" and "What" in the Webcast, and the "How" in the Chat Talk.
BAD IDEA!: only 8 persons watched the Webcast, and none (if not one) of the almost 100 attendees watched it. Gee. What a bad situation.
Then, the Chat Talk was that booked, we were asked to Replay it.
As Tony was mostly focused on another pre-event breakout we had the sunday before the TechReady, I was more preparing the TechReady one.
The initial idea was to dig in the C# code, demo the project, and explain tips & tricks that could be easily reused from this project by anyone in contact with PowerShell v2. As all this used to support "SharePoint automation" story, we wanted to share the "How we did it". That was a disaster! No one watched the webcast, so was able to know why we were doing all those complicated things. My accent and enthusiasm for what the team we're part of is doing, was perceived as arrogance and pretentious attitude. I was that shaken, I didn't even recalled how to display the "Solution Explorer" in Visual Studio. Half the room left during the talk. Hopefully, some of the attendees did really focus on the content and appreciated it. For the others to whom my way of sharing my passion for this thing shocked, I am deeply sorry about that. Please excuse me.
I was brain dead, almost devastated. How could I give a so negative appearance of myself, speaking on the most exciting project and things we are doing I've ever dreamed to work on?
That was though. At least, the attendees noticed I was knowledgeable on the topic. So, when things like these happen.... just learn and work. So did I.
For half the night I reworked the thing: I added more high level stuff so the one that didn't watch the webcast could understand why we were doing this. The too detailed content was removed, I tried to give demo more space, etc.
Though night indeed, but that paid.
There were fewer people, but things went better. For sure, some people questioned my “hard to understand” accent (as I speak fast, with French intonations). Tony wouldn't want to cover one of the elements presented, as he's more working on others' aspects of the topic.
The result was better. The evaluation were better (almost no one left the room, and their was clap at the end). For the ones that don't understand my English, I'll improve it. My hope here is that either the interest or the value of the topic and technical details could be caught. I also had some feedbacks on how this session presentation could be improved comparatively to my approach. I want to thank those who came to me and shared in a nice and constructive way about that (especially my dragon companion - private joke)
For the team I work in (and some of them were in the audience of the first session), sorry for the perception. Now, the feedbacks on the technical aspects are pretty great, and I had the second session recorded to be shared internally. But sorry again for the “presentation layer”.
As a final word, presenting at TechReady is a challenge. I recalled it the hard way: the field internal technical audience is much more challenging and demanding than the partners or customers (see my post on the my first speak at TechReady).
We will improve the content, but we will probably share the knowledge with the appropriate details level through IPs, White Papers, and internal workshops. That will reduce the wide variety of expectations from the attendees.
This experience also gave us a lesson: we should be ready with a full story to tell before going in front of the field. So will we. Count on me.
I'll be happy to catch up with those of you interested by the topic, hoping my poor personal performance did not rebuffed you from the great content and project going on in this area.
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