This past Saturday (Oct 29th) I attended the Ann Arbor Day of .NET at Washtenaw Community College.
I want to thank Jason Follas, Jay Harris and Scott Zischerk, the organizers, for making the Ann Arbor Day of .NET such a success! Also thanks to the sponsors, Telerik, JetBrains, TechSmith, Infragistics and DevExpress, for their support and all the free goodies! Lastly, thanks to the speakers and everyone that attended!
It was great to see friends, and finally meet friends face-to-face that I follow on Twitter, e.g. Sarah Dutkiewicz. I find the more I am involved in the developer community the more I enjoy these events, and events like CodeMash, as I get the opportunity to get to know my peers, and make some new friends.
There were (5) tracks for the day: Cloud, Frameworks and Platforms, Soft Skills, Tools and Mobile, which amounted to over 20 sessions. It was a fantastic line-up of awesome topics with awesome speakers!
I attend quite a few conferences each year, but this conference was a bit different for me … as this was the first time I was going to be presenting.
A couple months back I presented a Lighting Talk to the Great Lakes .NET User Group (MIGANG) on Sucking Less. This was my first presentation to a group of my peers, but it only lasted 10 minutes. This time I was going to have to speak for almost an hour, and on top of that, entertain questions at the end.
- Just do it! If you want to start speaking then start. If you want to be a better speaker then keep speaking.
- The audience is forgiving, if you make mistake, move on, and don’t get bogged down with a botched demonstration.
- If you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to or one that is outside of the scope of the talk just let the person know you are available to answer that question afterwards … you want to focus on the questions that are relevant to the talk and ones that you can answer.
- Your first couple of times presenting, you’ll spend more time working on your presentation, then enjoying other sessions … and that is alright.
- Adjust your presentation to the people. If only your mom, dad and few other show up to listen to you, then rearrange the room (if possible) to a more intimate setting.
- Be prepared, for a new presenter or new presentation, you won’t be able to enjoy other sessions, like you use to. You’ll be focused on making tweaks to your presentation, practicing, and in my case, dealing with first-time jitters.
- Practice, practice and practice.
This was excellent advice and was much appreciated. It helped me out immensely with my first presentation.
My time to present finally rolled around … I felt ready. I was up against some solid sessions and speakers, sessions that given the choice between mine and these other sessions, I would have attended the other sessions. The other sessions were “Developing Apps for Windows 8” by Susan Anspaugh-Yount and Stone Soup or Creating a Culture of Change by James Bender.
My presentation was going to discuss the importance of patterns in software development; my title – and the one that my presentation was submitted under – was simply going to be the “Importance of Patterns.” I usually like things with a bit more of an edge, but was pressed for time, and this would work.
My abstract for the presentation was:
Patterns can be found in all areas of your life, from creating grocery lists to crafting robust software applications. This session will introduce you to the concept of patterns, their history and benefits. We’ll look at some different uses of patterns in crafting software applications, including design patterns, architectural patterns and user interface design patterns. We’ll chase a rabbit and look at where patterns fail or might not be used correctly. You’ll leave this session able to identify patterns and successfully use them in all facets of the design and construction of software applications.
Prior to my session starting I changed the title to “I <3 Patterns.” This better represented my passion for being the best software developer I can be and how I think patterns can help us become better software developers.
The session before mine, “Develop IT: Intro to PowerShell” by Sarah Dutkiewicz, was wrapping up and people began filing out. I started setting my laptop up, organizing my note cards and was ready to go … unfortunately I still had to wait for 10 minutes, until my session “officially” started.
To my surprise, the room was packed! My mom and dad must have forgotten the date, because they were noticeably absent. Time seemed to move to a crawl, 9 minutes to go, 8 minutes to go, it was taking forever … and the silence was a bit unnerving to my already frazzled nerves.
So I started to show family photos, why not! Something to break the ice, and thankfully it did. Someone asked if “there were twins somewhere in the pictures”, to which I chuckled and answered “no.” That killed another 5 minutes and I asked the audience if they minded getting started early … which they didn’t … see we got things underway 5 minutes early… I had a lot of information to share, and no use waiting any longer, everyone was ready!
I gave a short introduction of myself and let everyone know that I had been writing code since the Commodore 64. This comment brought smiles, to both young and old … you could see the nostalgia wash over the older attendees while younger attendees were thinking “this dude is way old!”
I thought the presentation went well. Once I started the information just flowed and people seemed engaged.
The crowd was awesome! Great mix of people! Very attentive, interested and engaged … I was very thankful. The time flew by … and it was over. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ask or answer any questions as closing ceremonies were about to begin.
I did overhear some comments people were saying as they left, the best one was, “I’m glad my team attended this session … this is going to help us [develop better software].” That made my day! Someone walked out of the session having learned something! It was an awesome feeling!
With all that being said, I do have some things I need to improve on, those being:
- Save some time at the end for questions and answers. If I had spent more time practicing I would have had the timing down better.
- Spruce up the slides … just a bit. Little more color and maybe a relevant picture or two. My slides were just black text on a white background.
- When switching from section to section, in my slides, I’m going to add all the sections, and highlight the current section.
- This way people know where we went and where we are going.
- There was a lot of information presented, and I think this will help “recap” during the presentation as opposed to just the end.
- Ask for feedback. I wish I would have had a short questionnaire for people to fill out so I could get some feedback on what I needed to work on.
- Practice, practice and practice.
Thanks to everyone that attended my session, I was honored that you took time out of your busy day to sit and listen to this geek rattle off about his love of patterns for almost an hour! It was very much appreciated!
If you attended my session and have any feedback, please send it to me at email@example.com.
Thanks and God bless!
You can find the slide deck at http://www.slideshare.net/raz0rf1sh/i-lt3-patterns.