Browsing articles tagged with " slides"

Slide decks and PASS Summit: About Me Slides

May 25, 2016   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Events, Professional Development, Speaking, SQL Server, Training  //  10 Comments

Karen Lopez About Me Slide

I’ve been extremely lucky to have my sessions selected for speaking at PASS Summits for 4 of the last 5 years.  One year all my topics (data modeling and database design) were deemed to be “off-topic” for the Summit crowd. The good news I still got to speak because each of the two founding organizations (Microsoft and CA) let me use one of their slots or co-presented with me on the topics of database architectures and designs.

One of the outcomes of speakers using their community slots to do sales from the podium is that this event now has a rule that your slide deck can have only one mention of your name and our company.  Yes, because people were being overly focused on what they could get out of the crowd instead of sharing knowledge with attendees, the rest of the speakers and attendees have to feel pain.

Win-Win

I’m proposing that we allow speakers to put a form of their About Me slide at both the beginning and the end of a slide deck.  Yup. Just one more slide.

The first About Me slide is to establish a the speaker’s credibility on the subject, plus to disclose any potential conflicts of interest the speaker might have. Speaker works for a vendor? Check. Speaker wrote a book on this? Check. Speaker is a data architect and not a DBA? Check.

Note that having a potential conflict of interest on a topic isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s just a disclosure, not a confession.  In the past, when InfoAdvisors partnered with vendors, that would be on my About Me slide for presentations about data modeling, because I had partner agreements with most of the data modeling tool vendors.  We don’t have partner agreement any longer, but we do work with data modeling tool vendors.

When I speak in vendor-hosted slots, I’m careful to explain to attendees that they are in a paid speaking session and I disclose why I’m there and whether or not I was compensated to be there.  In the Summit year I spoke in vendor slots, I wasn’t compensated other than to get a spot via means other than the program committee.

The second About Me slide, at the end of the deck, plays the role of "Okay, I just talked with you for an hour about something I’m passionate about. If you’d like to talk more about it, or if you have problems with my demos, or if you have a question you want to ask me, here’s how to reach me.

For me, this isn’t just the norm for all events, it’s etiquette as well. 

Some speakers in the community have said “but all the attendees know who we are”.  No, no they don’t.  Celebrity is a bit overrated here. 

Regulation is Born from Bad Behaviours

I think it’s odd our community has a rule that keeps us from doing the second slide. I know the rule came from speakers who were overly sales-y in their talks. That’s what makes me sad about the other discussions I blogged about yesterday. Bad behaviour by sales-focused speakers ruins the experience for attendees at the event and for years after.

Bad behaviour by sales-focused speakers ruins the experience for attendees at the event and for years after.

If we started collecting data from attendees about how promotional speakers were in their sessions, that would be a much better indicator of whether or not sales was happening from the podium.  At EDW for the last several years, the attendee survey asks people:

“Was the speaker too "commercial?"  i.e. did he/she seem to be selling their own product / services / book / etc.?”

It’s a simple Yes/No question.  The measure is reported back to the speaker and the event organizers.  The overall conference evaluation asks for the attendees to list the speakers who were overly sales focused during the event. I think that’s a great question to ask the community. This data is much more likely than the ban on mentioning your name more than once in an hour to indicate whether or not the speaker is there to sell you his or her stuff.

One of the reasons decks have to be submitted for review at Summit is so that dozens of volunteers can scour the slides for mentions of the speaker’s name or company.  That isn’t really a value add for attendees, yet we do it because people have been overly focused on selling their products or services instead of the community. We’ve incurred a huge cost (in volunteer hours) to enforce this and some other less important things AND added months to gap between slide preparations and presentation time. This leads to pain for both the speakers and the audience.

Speakers break this rule all the time.  Some get called out, some don’t. We basically have a rule that is unevenly enforced and silly. It’s time to change this rule. 

It has been five years I’ve been asking for our community to change this rule. I believe I’ve followed it every time I’ve presented at Summit. There may be a time when the last slide from having given the presentation before has stayed in the deck, but I really want to follow the rules. So now after 5 years of emails and chats, I’ve blogged about my idea for win-win solution in hopes that other community folks will say “yes, I think that’s a good idea”.

Make it Right

We should be asking attendees of sessions and in the overall conference evaluation if a speaker spent too much time selling his blog, his books, his services or his products. We should allow two slides about the speaker in a slide deck.  These two changes to our rules will benefit attendees and speakers. These changes are win-win.

Dear Attendee: My Slides Will Not Match the Handouts

Apr 5, 2016   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, DLBlog, Events, Speaking, Training  //  9 Comments

 

Sorry...not sorry

Dear Conference Attendee:

I started out writing this as an apology.  But it’s not.  I’m sorry that it isn’t.  Months ago, I was required to submit my slides to your conference organizers for reasons:

  • there may be a review committee that reviews the content for offensive and unacceptable words, images or demos – and, yes, I’m sad that this is even needed.
  • there may be a review committee that checks to see if I mentioned my own name more than once in the entire deck, even at the end of the deck where I want to tell you can reach out to ask me more if you want to.  Yes, this is a real thing.
  • there may be a review committee that measures font sizes and types to see if they exactly match that of the official conference template, which will be ugly, unreadable, and bullet-point driven, but required for all speakers to use.  Yes, font measuring is a real thing. 
  • there may be a review committee that counts the number of words on a slide and deletes the “extra” words. Yes, this really happened to me.
  • there may be a review committee that fixes all the trademark names.
  • the organizers might have been burnt too many times by speakers who weren’t ready with a slide deck the day of the event—and yes, I am sad this is even needed.
  • the organizers might need to print the handouts of the slides months in advance – so they tell me.

Some of those are great reasons, some of them awful.  But they are reasons the organizers require slide decks to be submitted months in advance of the event.

Stuff Changes

But in those months between the time I submitted the deck and I show up to present, the world has changed.  I say that one day in cloud time is equal to one month in boxed software time.  So 2 months in cloud tech is like a 5 years delay in talking about traditional software and hardware releases.

The products, services and features I am presenting about will have changed.  Their names might have changed.  They may have been bought by another company.  They may have had a new release. They might have new features.  They might have deprecated features.  They may have changed their license agreements.  They might have gone bankrupt. They might have disappeared.  They might have changed their architectures.  Anything and everything might have happened in the months between my deck being uploaded somewhere until the time those pieces of paper are handed out to you upon registration.

I Change, Too

In the weeks between my submitting the slide deck and actually giving the presentation, I think of a great way of presenting a concept. Or I think of a new thing I want to point out.  Or I experience a failure along the way that I want to share.  Don’t get me started on fixing typos or other inaccuracies.  Yes, I know that I shouldn’t make mistakes.  But I do.

Maybe I hear about something I didn’t know about when I did the deck. Maybe I realized that something that was true when I developed the deck is no longer exactly true. The point is, I am constantly thinking abut making my presentations better.

But What About…?

I know some of you are saying “What paper handouts?”  Yes, some conferences still give you printouts on dead trees, especially for half and full-day seminars.  I know you are thinking “Can’t you just send them updated slide decks?”  Yes, I can.  Sometimes that works, most times it does not. Sometimes we speakers are penalized for doing so.

But this happens even with digital decks.  I can send revised slides and sometimes someone on the other end will update the deck produced for download.  Sometimes they will not. We speakers mostly have no control over that.

I’ve also heard about people who completely redo a presentation so that the slides from before aren’t even recognizable.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about a few new slides, some changed ones, maybe some replaced ones.  I want to be able to do that in the 2-3 months between submission time and class time.  I want to make it better for you, the attendee.

I’ve also been asked “Why don’t you just print out new handouts for the attendees?” and “Why don’t you email out the updated slides before the event”.  I have done that for my formal training classes (of course).  But for organized events, I may not have the authority to do that.  At some events the distribution of all materials is forbidden. I also don’t have access to attendee email addresses to distribute them, either.

What I Do to Minimize the Impact of Changes

When I have enhanced my slide deck in those months, I do the following:

  1. Provide the whole current deck on my website for download
  2. Provide the whole new deck on a thumb drive for you to “download” at the event
  3. Provide the organizers with the updated deck
  4. Encourage everyone to learn how to leverage the mark up features of the apps they have on their tablet and laptops.  These are a true timesaver for me.
  5. Describe, while presenting, why there is a new or different slide.

Yes, I know you want the paper copy for taking notes and marking up the deck.  I’m not happy, either, that these decks had to be provided from a 2-3 months ago reality.  I know many of you will be unhappy.  You will mark down my speaker score because I included new slides to show new functionality (this happened to me two years ago at an event). I know you will leave an evaluation rating and comment that my slides should have matched the handout.  I want you to do that if that’s what is important to you.

But I’m not going to apologize for the paper handouts being out of date.  It’s a physics problem.  My only way to fix this is to be able to bend time so that I can see the world as it will be 60-90 days in the future. Trust me: if I could do that, I would be presenting at a much different event.

So cut speakers some slack.  You really do want them to enhance their slides, fix mistakes, update for new information and maybe even make them prettier in the months before the event.  If you have other ideas about how I can make the impact of change easier on you, let me know.

Good speakers want you to learn, have fun doing it AND have something to take home with you to remember what you learned.  Help us help make that happen for you.

7 Databases in 70 Minutes

Mar 10, 2015   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Database, Database Design, DLBlog, NoSQL, Speaking  //  No Comments

Lara Rubbelke (@sqlgal ) and I recently presented 7 Databases in 70 Minutes, a sort of homage to the book 7 Databases in 7 Weeks.  The event was SQLBits, a UK-based SQL Server event.  We first gave this talk at the PASS Summit last year.

We don’t talk about the same databases as the book, but the concepts are the same.  We cover relational, column family, graph, key value, Hadoop, and document database technologies, focusing mostly on the reasons why you would want to consider these and what a typical create and query statement might look like.

And then we end with 7 reasons why you should start exploring them.

It’s a blast talking about so many things in such a short time frame and it’s fun watching light bulbs go off as people realize these aren’t just silly open source projects, but real, enterprise class solutions for common enterprise processes.

Check out our slide deck.

Have you been looking at non-relational technologies to tell your data stories, too?

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