There we are, I have finally given my talk about Kubernetes and Azure.
It was both more and less than I expected.
It was more easy, once I got there, into the position of a speaker than I expected. My fellow speakers were very kind and supportive, which helped with the pre-stage flutters 🙂 It was also easier because the room was of a reasonable size, and I was not on stage in front of 500 people.
And it was less deep dive than I expected, which also allowed me to relax a bit. I could get a feeling about the audience before going there, which let me into the dark regarding their needs and expectations.
Let’s set the stage. The event took place at Microsoft’s Building 20, which is a Reactor (https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/reactor/). So the building is definitely designed to host events comfortably. That helped a lot, as we even had someone from the A/V team to help us and ensure all the screens and microphones would be working correctly. And yes, the free coffee might also have been a huge help 🙂
The room was large, without any raised platform for the speaker, but with multiple repeat screens all around.
I was the third speaker, so I definitely had some time to review my slides and demo setup a few times.
I did setup the demo environment the night before, to avoid any deployment issue at the last minute (which did happen 2 days before while I was practicing). Once again, having a scripted demo ensured that I would not forget any step, or mess up some command line options.
I did have a few issues during the talk. First the mike did stop working at some point, failed battery. I kept on speaking without it, as the room was small enough to let me speak louder for a short time and still be heard. The support guy came shortly to replace the battery, so no big issue there.
My remote clicker did work perfectly, but not the pointer part. That’s a shame, because it made it more difficult to point out at a precise section of a slide or demo. Afterwards I found out why, and I should be able to avoid that particular issue in the future.
I did not get as much interaction as I hoped I would. I thing that it was mostly due to my anxiety, which prevented me to behave like my normal self and be engaging.
What I would change for the future. First, for a set event like this one, I would practice in front of a camera, or a mirror, to actually see and listen to my speech. That would probably ensure that I would keep the correct pace and articulation. And also make sure that the flow of slides is comprehensible.
Second, I would work more to know the expectations of the public. It turns out that my talk was way too technical and fast it should have been. While discussing with the attendees afterwards, I realized that I did not get many of the points through, probably because I went too fast over those. This brings me back to the interactions point above : would I have been more comfortable and interactive, I could have grasped that during the session and corrected it.
Third, I should probably think about learning a bit more about controlling my voice and projecting it. I realized that during the week leading to the event, as I had to speak in a loud environment, and present/discuss the same kind of subjects.
A word on the hands-on labs we had in the afternoon. I just was glad to have stayed for that part.
First because I had never been on the proctor side before, and it’s really fascinating to see a problem through the eye of someone with a different mindset and culture. I really learned a lot, and realized a lot during these 2 hours.
Second, because it showed me the areas where my presentation had been lacking, and how much I had not been clear enough to be understood by everyone. I think these discussions with the attendees were the deeper feedback and improvement tips that I could get.
For the record, the container labs we used are there : https://github.com/Azure/blackbelt-aks-hackfest/
That’s it for now. This first talk has unlocked something and made me realize that I should talk at every occasion I can, and that I love it, at least when it’s done 😉