My #SQLRally Speaker Evaluation Results

Jun 3, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Social Networking, Speaking  //  No Comments

Karen PresentationFor those of you who read our blog and don’t frequent SQL Server community events, you might find this post a bit surprising.  I found similar posts odd when I first came across them, but now I understand the role they play in the SQL Speaker community. 

Speakers at SQLPASS and related events often post the evaluation results they received, good or bad, along with the presenter’s analysis of how the presentation went and how the evaluations cause them to enhance their future presentations.  I’ve learned a lot from reading how other speakers have responded to their evaluation data, so I’m going to start sharing mine. 

SQLRally was held just a few weeks ago in Orlando, which fit perfectly into my schedule of waiting around for Endeavour to lift off.  I had already been scheduled to speak, so I didn’t have to travel far from Cocoa Beach to Orlando to attend.  My presentation was a Deep Dive, meaning I had a 90 minute time slot to present.  I had submitted a couple of proposals, but the one that was voted on by the SQL community was my professional development topic, Career Success in the Data Profession During Turbulent Times. I forgot to count how many people attended, but I’m pretty sure there were more than 40 people, probably more.   Nineteen people completed and turned in evaluations for the presentation, which I think is about the expected number.

The data (scale of 1-5, with 5 being best):

  • Overall Average:  4.754
  • Lowest Evaluation:  3.5, but evaluator gave no comments, so I’m not sure why he or she felt that way or what I could do to make the attendee happier.
  • Highest Evaluation:  5.0 (12 people gave this score)

The questions asked on the evaluation and my average for each:

  • How would you rate the Speaker’s ability to convey information and control the presentation? 4.737
  • How would you rate the Speaker’s knowledge of the subject? 4.895
  • How would you rate the accuracy of the session title and description to the actual session? 4.632
  • How would you rate the speaker’s use of the allocated time to cover the topic/session? 4.684
  • How would you rate your ability to follow along with the speaker’s examples/demonstrations? 4.842
  • Please rate the practicality of the information presented. 4.737

I’m happy with those results.  The lowest one, about the session title, is one that I struggle with.  For technical presentations, I find titles and abstracts can be really clear.  For professional development, I think that it’s harder to get a clear title that covers all the nuances of "how to do something better, regardless of what its".  So I work hard on the abstract. I have a slide with the same title of each of the points in the abstract to make sure there’s a good link to help people understand what we will be talking about.  A 4.6 is still good, but I’ll work on making that better.

Time allocation is tough. I make ending on time a very high priority.  It was funny that the speaker before me went more than 20 minutes over in his session.  I ended on time.  We covered all the material and had a huge amount of audience discussion, which is how I rate the success of my sessions.  That’s just my style.    I’m not much of a lecturer. 

Since this presentation focused somewhat on social media and getting others to market for you, I was glad that I didn’t have people feeling that was too much non-SQL content.  It’s always a risk when giving professional development topics at technical conferences.

The comments evaluators gave were very encouraging, too.

  Great Structured vs. unstructured presentation. Most audience involvement in a session I’ve seen here.

Like I said, that’s my style of presentation.  So it works well people audience members enjoy that.  I know some people don’t.  I have had evaluations that complained about the time wasted with audience people asking questions or offering different opinions. Sure, sometimes presentations get derailed by those things, but I allocate a significant portion of my presentation time for these discussions.  I’ve always wondered how to set people’s expectations about that.

Excellent slides. Focus on topical ideas, not text in bullets.  Kept focus on stories.  Great presentation.

Also good to hear.  I’ve had people complain in the past that they don’t like my Zen-like simple slides; they want lots of text to use as a reference later.  I’ve considered adding notes to my slides in PowerPoint to meet those people’s needs.

She explained everything well.

I’m glad.  I was glad I had 90 minutes so that I could spend extra time explaining the social networks and what I meant by "networking".

Got off topic for a while at the beginning.

I’m not sure which part that was. There were some discussions that went on for a while I and I had to move on to other topics.  But I was happy to see such an engaged audience.  I will work harder at focus.

Discussed a lot of how to hire instead of how to position yourself for advancing your career.

That is excellent feedback.  I did talk a lot about hiring people, as did some audience members.  I can’t tell many stories about advancing through employment opportunities, though, because I’m in the services industries and have been my own boss for more than 15 years.  My intent on telling interviewer stories was to show how hard it is to hire someone if they can’t explain well what they know and what they do.  Next time I’ll work harder at making that distinction.

Knowledge is power.  Know your profession’s mandate.

I like this statement, but it was giving as a comment under "what could the speaker do to improve future presentations" and I don’t know what it means.  If you gave this comment and want to explain it a bit more, I’d love to hear more.

Not enough of this is being discussed in "DBA-dom"

I think it is great that SQLPASS and SQLRally have professional development tracks, so some of it is being talked about at these events.   Many user group and SQL Saturday organizers are worried about putting professional development topics on their schedules, since some members don’t like non-technical presentations.  If you do, you should talk to your local organizers to tell them you think it is important.

As with other presenters, Karen seems to be the leader in data architecting and IT resource field.  Kudos.

Great natural speaker.

Could discuss all day, very thought provoking.

Absolutely awesome.

There’s a tremendous demand and a need or this. There’s a business here. Most valuable presentation of SQLRally.

Those makes me smile. It’s always nice to get this sort of feedback.  Share some love if you enjoyed the presentation you spent time at.

So thank you for all of you who took the time to share your thoughts about the presentation.  Speakers crave this sort of feedback.  As other speakers have blogged, speakers have traveled away from the families, taken days to prepare for their presentations, rehearsed them, fretted about them, planned for them, and generally spent a great deal of time trying to make that 60-90 minutes the best session of your day.  Do them a favour by spending 5 minutes filling out the evaluations. And please do the hard part: If you didn’t rate them a 5, tell them why.  We really do want to know.

 

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