Browsing articles tagged with " Speaking"

DAMA Kansas City – Data Modeling for Data Protection

https://kcdama.org/

DAMA Kansas City – Kansas City chapter of the Data Management Association (DAMA) < I’ll be talking about #dataprotection and #security #privacy on Thursday. Join me!

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 170 Minutes: Workshop at NoSQLNow!

Jan 26, 2016   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Database, Database Design, DLBlog, Events, NoSQL, Speaking, Training  //  No Comments

image

My friend Joey D’Antoni ( @jdanton | blog ) and I will be giving a workshop at NoSQLNow! about new database and datastore technologies like Hadoop, Neo4j, Cassandra, Vertica, Document DB, and others.  This will be a fast-paced, demo-heavy, practical sessions for data professionals.  We’ll talk about where a modern data architecture would best use these technologies and why it’s not an either/or question for relational solutions in a successful enterprise. And, as always, our goal is to make the time we spend fun and interactive.   This session will be a great starting point for some other session on Monday that go into data modeling for NoSQL as well as for all the other in-depth, database-specific talks the rest of the week.

Sunday, April 17, 2016
Level:
Intermediate

imageWe’ve been busy keeping relational data consistent, high quality, and available. But over the last few years, new database and datastore technologies have come to the enterprise with different data stories. Do we need all our data to be consistent everywhere? What does data quality mean for analytics? Will we need relational database?

Learn how traditional and new database technologies fit in a modern data architecture. We will talk about the underlying concepts and terminology such as CAP, ACID and BASE and how they form the basis of evaluating each of the categories of databases. Learn about graph, Hadoop, relational, key value, document, columnar, and column family databases and how and when they should be considered. We’ll show you demos of each.

Finally, we will wrap up with 7+ tips for working with new hybrid data architectures: tools, techniques and standards.

 REGISTER

Use code “DATACHICK” to save:

$100 off for  Tutorials Only + Seminar Only Registration and $200 off for Full Event, Conference+Tutorials, Conference +Seminar, and Conference Only Registration.

Super early registration ends 29 January, so take advantage of both discounts now (yes, they stack!).

Database Design Throwdown, Texas Style

Jan 21, 2016   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Data Modeling, Database, Database Design, DLBlog, Events, Fun, Snark, Speaking, SQL Server  //  3 Comments

SQLSaturday #461 - Austin 2016

It’s a new year and I’ve given Thomas LaRock (@@sqlrockstar | blog ) a few months to recover and ramp up his training since our last Throwdown.  The trophies from all my wins are really cluttering my office and I feel back that Tom has not yet had a chance to claim victory.  So we will battling again in just a few days.

I’ll be dishing out the knowledge along with a handkerchief for Tom to wipe up his tears at SQL Saturday #461 Austin, TX on 30 January 2016.  This full day community-driven event features real database professionals giving free presentations on SQL Server and Data Platform topics.  All you need to do is register (again, it’s free) before all the tickets are gone.

Database Design Throwdown

Speaker(s):  Karen Lopez Thomas LaRock

Duration: 60 minutes

Track: Application & Database Development

Everyone agrees that great database performance starts with a great database design. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees which design options are best. Data architects and DBAs have debated database design best practices for decades. Systems built to handle current workloads are unable to maintain performance as workloads increase.Attend this new and improved session and join the debate about the pros and cons of database design decisions. This debate includes topics such as logical design, data types, primary keys, indexes, refactoring, code-first generators, and even the cloud. Learn about the contentious issues that most affect your end users and how to avoid them.

One of the other great benefits of attending these events is that you get to network with other data professionals who are working on project just like yours…or ones you will likely work on at some point.

Join us an other data pros to talk about data, databases and projects. And make sure you give a #datahug to Tom after the Throwdown. He’s gonna need it.

PASS Summit 2014 Speaker Idol—Judging You, Part I

Nov 13, 2014   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, DLBlog, Fun, Speaking, SQL Server  //  No Comments

PASS Summit Judges/Judgey Table Sign

This year we had a new item at the 2014 PASS Summit: Speaker Idol. Run by Denny Cherry ( blogs | @mrdenny ), this is a contest where people who have never been selected to speak at Summit get the opportunity to win a golden ticket (an automatic speaking slot) at Summit 2015. To win, speakers must put together a 5 minute lightning talk, then impress the judges more than any other speaker in the competition.

I competed in a similar contest at TechEd two years ago. The difficult part about this is there are no criteria for which you can prepare. You don’t know what the judges think are good habits or what topics they might enjoy. They might even give conflicting advice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a crowd, give your presentation, then be critiqued by others in front of a crowd.

A few of us judges are blogging today about the things we commented on to the presenters:

Denny Cherry discusses the overall process used to put it all together

Joey D’Antoni focused mostly on physical presence while speaking

If others blog, I’ll update this post with links.

Today I’m going to continue on with Joey’s theme of physical presence.

Move, But Don’t Wander

It’s really difficult when you are stressed or nervous to get the timing and location of moving around right. Some people hug the lectern as if they are on flight experiencing extreme turbulence. Others pace back and forth like a caged animal hungry for fresh meat. At some conferences at Summit, this is compounded by a speaker set up where there’s a table, a lectern and several chairs. The AV equipment is often taped or strapped down so that your laptop must be located on the lectern. I find this annoying because presenting isn’t the same as giving a speech. Presenting and training involve more discussions with the audience and need more engagement than just speaking at a group of people.

The raised podium effect also means that moving around can lead to falling off the stage. Not a good thing.

Joey gave advice to stand with your feet together. I usually give other advice: stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart, then move your feet about 3 inches further apart. This sort of forces you to stay put for a while because it feels slightly off, but not enough to make it feel awkward. It’s harder to move out of that stance and it tends to be a more powerful, competent looking to the audience. Move around to ensure you aren’t blocking the same audience members for your whole presentation. Move to show that you and the audience are working together to learn.

Remember: pacing back and forth is bad, but taking a few steps in a variety of directions can help you engage different members of the audience. Have a purpose when you move.

A Mic Changes Everything

Most speakers would prefer not to use a microphone. A hand mic plus a remote means both our hands are tied up. A lavaliere mic (one that clips on your shirt and has a pack that has to be stuck in a pocket or worn in the back) means everything you do or say is being amplified. But when sessions are recorded, broadcast or in large rooms, audio equipment is mandatory.

One of the more common mistakes the speakers made was leaning forward then turning their heads to read the slides on the screen. This meant that as they were talking, they were talking away from the mic. We judges were in the front row and I had a hard time hearing what was said.

The trick is to turn your whole body when you are mic-ed up. Do this even when you are turning to speak to an audience member and to highlight something on the screen.

Remember: The audio portion of your presentation is just as important as the visuals. Probably even more important.

Don’t Read Your Slides to the Audience

This is a tough habit to break, especially if you are running short on time. It’s the most common feedback I hear from people who are attending sessions and are frustrated by the speaker. This is especially common with lightning talks because time is so limited. If you read your slides to the audience, you are basically showing them that you don’t really need to be there speaking. You could just email blast out your slides and be sitting in the bar enjoying a conference-themed beverage.

One of the ways to break this habit is to have fewer words on your slides. More on this later.

Another way is to have speaker notes that you can see when you are presenting. These should have different words/bullet points and that will force you to explain things in different words. PowerPoint shows these notes when you are in presentation mode.

The best way to break this habit, though, is to not look at your slides when you speak. Look at the audience. Engage with them. Offer insights into what is on the slides, but do that while having a conversation with the audience.

Remember: You are there to give insights and to engage with the audience. Your slides are there to support that, not the other way around.

More…

One of the more interesting things about being a judge is that we all talked about how we are also guilty of many of these speaker vices.  We recognized that while we were giving all this advice, we all needed to take care when we presented, too.  I’m sure it was difficult for the contestants to be judged in public.  It was difficult for us doing that as well.

I’ve blogged about what to do when something goes wrong during your presentation, but I’ll be blogging about those things and more as part of this series.  I’ll be talking about equipment, preparation and delivery. Plus being judge-y Smile.

Strutting: We all Know When You are Doing It. So Stop.

Jun 25, 2014   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, DLBlog  //  1 Comment

Rant Level: High. It’s Friday. 

Kanye West Ruins Taylor Swift's VMAs Win

 

I was reading an ACM blog post by Judy Robertson about strutting, a tactic used by audience members at event.  Robertson discusses a specific type of this behaviour, done by IT people: nerd strutting

Garvin-Doxas and Barker (2004) refer to "strutting" as a style of interaction where people show off their knowledge by asking questions carefully designed to demonstrate that they know a lot about the topic, and quite possibly that they know more than everyone else around them. The problem with this in a learning situation is that students who lack confidence assume that they are the only person who doesn’t understand, and quickly feel even more demoralised.

The full paper is available if you’d like to read about the study these researchers did on Defensive Climate in the Computer Science Classroom.

I’m betting you’ve seen this behaviour before.  In fact, I’d bet that if you attend enough events, you could name the people most likely to nerd strut before the speaker has even gotten 15 minutes into her presentation.  They ask questions, often sprinkled with references to product codenames, Greek philosophers, small startups and archaic error numbers.   They use highly jargonized terms.  They use insider terms. They want you to feel outside the inner circle.  They want you to know just how freaking smart they are.  But you know what’s funny?  The vast majority of the people in the room can see what they are doing and silently smirk.   

I’m interested in hearing just what sorts of people fall for this bravado.  Everyone else in the room talks about how insanely annoying the behaviour is, but no one wants to do anything about it.  I’m not even sure what we can do about it, other than to ask audience members to stop.  

Insults R Us

Another tactic that nerd strutters do is sit in the audience and stage whisper criticisms of the speaker and the topics.  I find this incredibly annoying as an audience member.  It doesn’t impress me, nor does it make me feel as if the strutmaster is actually convincing anyone he is superior. A variation of this is a group of people, chatting with each other and loudly snickering about the speaker or the topic.   

If you are sitting in a presentation and you find it too "level 100” for your tastes, you should just get up and find a presentation more fitting for your enormous brain…or whatever body part is keeping you from learning anything.

Why it Matters

I know, some of you are saying “But Karen, just ignore the @$$#@+s that do this stuff”.  I do, mostly.  However, Garvin-Doxas and Barker found that the effect of many types of negative communication, even when it was not intended, has a negative impact on many students, especially women.  Yes, women should suck it up and learn to play the game of competition.  But we don’t do it that well.  In general, women prefer a collaborative environment.   We love a bit of friendly competition. But one where team members insult others in public? Not so much.

The authors point to the fact that IT work is highly collaborative.  Supporting and enabling a culture of jabs, insults, mockery and distain works against that goal.  I hear people constantly ranting that topic X should not be on a conference agenda because it is isn’t what *they* want  learn.  I say “choose another session – there are several other tracks”.  When I see someone nerd strut in front of an entire audience, I want to call them out – tell them they are showing off.  We can all tell when a question isn’t really a question. I don’t call people out on this, though, because no one else does.

What to Do

Robertson gives 3 tips in her blog post on dealing with nerd strutting.  Go read them.  I’d love to see the community deal with this in a consistent, collaborative way.

I’d like to add to them:

1. Encourage others to ask questions during presentations.  One of the reasons why many nerd strutters can do what they do, often several times in the same session, is that very few people ask questions or give commentary.  If enough people are asking legitimate questions, then the strutters get less show time.

2. Ask the Insult R Us people to take their conversation elsewhere. It’s annoying enough to hear anyone ramble on while you are trying to listen to the speaker.  It’s not rude or unfair to ask people, no matter what they are talking about, to either be quiet or to wander somewhere else.

3. Stand up to people who insult the work of others.  This one is the biggest pet peeve of mine.  It’s fine for people to be proud of their own work.  It’s not cool for them to insult the work of others just because they think it’s easy or low-level stuff. I don’t just draw boxes and lines all day.  BI professionals don’t just draw bar charts all day.  Developers don’t just type all day.  We all have difficult jobs.  I don’t need to step on someone else to raise myself up.  I will continue to speak out to the people who need to insult others.  I’m hoping you can, too.

Community Impact

From the paper:

Finally, when people communicate certainty in a dogmatic fashion, they also tend to communicate a low tolerance for disagreement. When defensive communication becomes habitual in a social context, it engenders a "defensive climate." Distrust of others becomes the norm, resulting in a social environment privileging competition over cooperation.

We all need to recognize that this negative behaviour hurts everyone.  It poisons the community.  It drives people away, especially new community members and those who want to work together to solve problems and build the community.   And we all need to work together to keep people focused on making the community an inclusive, inviting environment.

Garvin-Doxas, K. and Barker, L. J. 2004. Communication in computer science classrooms: understanding defensive climates as a means of creating supportive behaviors. J. Educ. Resour. Comput. 4, 1 (Mar. 2004), 2. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1060071.1060073

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