What I Learned From My Conference Evaluations

(Originally posted 2007-04-26.)

I was pleasantly surprised to see my conference evaluations so soon – given the European System z Technical Conference was only last week. Very professional to have the feedback straight away.

All the people who filled in the evaluation forms – and that exceeded 50% of the attendees in every session – were very kind, I feel. Here’s what I learned:

I still talk too fast, and still have highly idiomatic English. So, given my international role, I’ll definitely have to work on both of those. My next conference is the “take no prisoners with UK English” πŸ™‚ UKCMG conference in June. Then I hope to be at the North American version of this current conference in the Autumn – where maybe I’ll have to adapt my style again. I have friends who can tell me if my English is still too idiomatic, though maybe they’re unable now to act as cyphers for the average North American sysprog. πŸ™‚

I wonder why I talk too fast: Perhaps it’s nervousness (and I’ll admit to just a tad of that), perhaps it’s having too much material (and maybe I should cut it down a little), but I’m hoping it’s just enthusiasm and a desire to throw in “the kitchen sink”.

On “the kitchen sink” it’s very difficult to know what your audience expects of you. Clearly, just parroting the manuals isn’t good enough. It’s taken me a while to realise I deliver more than that – and perhaps to relax about the “technical credibility” thing. And since these are my own foils (with one exception this time) I shouldn’t feel I’m just parroting some standard IBM Marketing material. But I’d hate not to deliver the “kitchen sink”.

And I realise that for some readers the term “kitchen sink” may be unfamiliar: If you “throw in the kitchen sink” it means you “throw in everything you’ve got”.

I’m not really agonising about this stuff, mind. But I do care. So thanks for the evaluations (which were pretty positive) and thanks for the evaluation comments.

Finally, do any other speakers feel this way? I guess they must do: I’ve had dear friends desperately worried about presenting and how they went down with their “public”.

Published by Martin Packer

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