Posts Tagged ‘conference’
I have been to a lot of conferences and seen a lot of presentations from brilliant people, but sometimes those brilliant people fail to make a presentation that connects with the audience. As an audience member (and not speaking as one of the brilliant people presenting) I have just one advice for those speakers.
Speak at conferences because you are on a mission. Don’t give a presentation just because people ask you to, and you are flattered. Make sure to think about what you are giving the audience – what the audience should take away from your talk (and make it simple). At conferences most attendees are on information overload, so you have to inspire them for further investigation. Tell jokes, tell anecdotes, use images to let your audience connect with your material. Be enthusiastic. Be memorable. Be tweetable. Be bloggable. Be the odd one out. Make sure that everyone knows why you are on that stage and what you are talking about.
I’m so sorry, but I just have to rant about this: The last few years I have been part of organizing an IT-conference here in Aarhus called JAOO. Last year, when the world was in crisis mode, I could understand why people, when asked if they want to go to JAOO, said, that their boss wouldn’t let them and that the conference budget for the whole year was cancelled.
This year the economy is doing much better and still my friends are not going to JAOO even though they love the conference. Now the excuse is that they don’t have time. Fewer hands are doing the same amount of work as before the crisis, so now they are running around getting sick from stress. AND they just accept that their employer does not update their skill set because the business is too busy.
I can let you in on a little secret: The business is always busy when there is no economic crisis. Some IT-companies was even busy when the crisis was peaking. Such is IT. The diffence between now and then is that now the workers that did not get to go to the conference last year and probably wont get to go this year are outdated. They haven’t taken the time to get their qualifications updated the last few years and the tech world is moving terrible fast. Some don’t know what the whole NoSQL-thing is about, some haven’t heard much about HTML5 and some haven’t heard anything about the mobile phone development department. Now the crisis is over and companies are getting business deals that demands skills in that department and their current workforce can’t deliver. They should have been working smarter, not harder!
A lot of places they are trying to bring in new people with updated skills but this is turning out to be problematic. New workers have a learning period before they can get really started and sometimes you end up hiring the wrong guy/gal for the job because none of the people who applied was right for the job. Firing people is also expensive (at least it is here in Denmark) and if the current skill set in your workforce is outdated then you might have to.
I just think that it is very irresponsible to accept being outdated in the tech knowledge department – it could lead to unemployment. When my last employer told me I couldn’t go to JAOO, I decided to pay for the whole thing myself by taking some of my vacation during the conference (I got the ticket through version2.dk because of my blog there). Of course now I don’t have the problem of having to use my vacation time on conferences, because I quit my job to travel the world… (I’m leaving just 2 weeks after JAOO and yes, that timing is chosen on purpose.)
I’m so sorry for the rant – soon I will be back to normal and overly positive as usual.
(P.S. Of course there are plenty of ways to keep your skill set updated – I just know the conference business especially well, so I know that those few days are well spent, very inspirational and valuable enough to miss a few work days.)
Working behind the scenes at the JAOO conference the last few years has been a great inspiration for me. I have met great conference speakers like Linda Rising, Michael Nygard, Mary Poppendieck, Jim Coplien, Ola Bini, Dan North and many more that I really respect and admire. This year I left JAOO for a glamorous job as a full-time programmer and even though I can’t wait to go back and experience JAOO from the other side of the fence I must say that looking at this years JAOO speaker lineup, I am less than impressed. My favorite speaker Linda Rising is not coming and even though the usual suspects seems to be there except Linda I’m just not as excited as I have been the other years I have attended JAOO.
One of the first things I noticed was that in general there is not many female speakers on the program this year. I would have liked to see names like Rachel Davies, Aino Vonge Corry, Linda Rising, Rebecca Parsons, Amanda Laucher, Gabrielle Benefield and maybe even some new female names up there with all the guys. And usually there is quite a few female speakers at JAOO – even a few obscure cool female geeks and not just the cool authors of geek books – just not this year. Weird. And yes, I know I’m one of the few that notice this gender disparity but as a geek girl you are always looking for new geeky role models.
Of course this is all concerns I have with the conference schedule as it is now – things can look quite different in October when the conference starts. There is still open presentation slots on the schedule. And even with a less than JAOO average lineup this years conference will probably be much better than the other developer conferences. I love JAOO!
See you there?
P.S. I will even forgive the team behind JAOO for chosing a pink venus sign as the logo for my usergroup Ada Aarhus, but only because we haven’t chosen a logo for the group yet. The sign of venus is just a bit too cliche to use for a usergroup of geek girls.
P.P.S. I call Ada Aarhus my usergroup because I co-founded the group back in December ’09.