The greatest skill a developer has to have is to adjust within a group of people. Believe me, this is even difficult than developing a technical skill. Interpersonal communication is a craft and one needs to master it in order to better survive for selling the ideas. Since we are in the business of consulting for software services, we need to move between organizations every few months and years. Not all the people are welcoming, they have different psychologies and motivations. These events prove to be a practice. You need to go to the venue, introduce yourself, present in the presence of total strangers - you have no idea about their backgrounds.
Few Advices & Lessons Learned
Humor is an interpersonal lubricant. Since we are interacting with the audience for the first time, we need to break the barrier of being strange. Humor is the universal lubrication of friction between people. You are never strange for the people who smile with you. Although this is the most effective technique, but this can go either way. You need to pull off the joke really well. Like an actor, the punch line has to be effective. Practice it, tell it a few times to your friends no matter how annoying they become.
One must go through the session material before the session. I have realized that we try to be very detail oriented when are creating slides for our presentation. These conferences and code camps are not class room sessions. People are interested in links and ideas they can take home. This give them direction for their technical development. We need to give them as much as possible in the limited time we have. But the most important thing is to motivate them enough about the stuff that they study further after the event. We need to be fresh for the event, so take a nap before the event.
We can also record the session if possible. This is one of the take away item for yourself. A recorded session can be useful for preparing yourself if you are speaking about the same stuff later on. This is specially useful if you have been away focusing on some other technological stuff for a few months. You can also publish them for general audience if you think this might help them learning about the topic.
We must time box our session. A session has a list of agenda items. We need to make sure that we time box the agenda so that we are able to cover each item and still be able to finish our session in time. If there is an item which is taking more time, tell about some pointers the audience might take away with them. We must also be ourselves, confident and to the point. Call your family or friend for a little chit chat in the morning.
I have presented my thoughts and ideas over two areas from a huge list of Microsoft technology stack. They are as follows:
- Cross Platform Development using Portable Class Libraries
- Event Source API, ETW and Semantic Logging Application Block
Here are the session videos from the events in Silicon Valley, Boston and Southwest Florida Code camps.
You can also download the code from these sessions. I even uploaded that to my sky drive.