Saturday, March 24, 2012

Doing Notes for my Boise Code Camp Presentation

I presented this afternoon at the Boise Code Camp. All in all, it went OK. However, I had a really rough start. I am proud that I was able to brush it off and go on (I even got a couple of complements). It is important to continue on when I am bombing and debug my performance after the ordeal is over. After an Improv show (at least at the Blue Door Theatre), the performers do “Notes”.

I have observed that many code camp presentations start out scripted and eventually move into improv. It isn’t like a short games or a Harold where it can go in any direction; more like a Larry David script that has a story arc but no written dialog. This pivot usually occurs when the first question is asked. The presentation becomes a dialog that follows the outline of the presentation. I usually am good at engaging the audience in that dialog; I guess I am good at crowd work.

Rough Start

I had a lot of trouble getting started. I umed, I spoke too fast, spoke in a single note, I left stuff off (I didn’t even properly introduce myself), it took too long to get into a groove. My first 5 minutes were really weak. I didn’t rehearse that part of the presentation enough. I didn’t speak the words out loud enough. The first 5 minutes sets the pace for the rest of the show.

Improvements in Other Areas

I felt good about the rest of the talk. Last time out I had trouble talking and coding at the same time; this time I felt comfortable coding on stage. The steps of my demos were well defined and rehearsed; I even had completed demos that I could use if I had a demo failure. I also felt comfortable changing the demos based on questions or comments of my audience. I need to keep the improvements I made and fix what didn’t work


It is not my goal to oust Scott Hanselman as the Jon Skeet of technical speaking. I am using technical speaking (and Improv for that matter) to help me get outside of myself and the traditional dweeb mindset. I am getting out of my shell and doing thing I wouldn’t have done and going places I wouldn’t have gone 3 years ago.

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