Tomorrow I will be one of the keynote speakers at QCon London. I am really looking forward to the conference.
I go quite a ways back with infoq and qcon. The first time I spoke about CQRS at a reasonably sized conference was at QCon San Francisco in I believe 2007. I was petrified. I was to talk about building systems that were considered non-applicable to Domain Driven Design by using Messaging.
My front row included Martin Fowler, Eric Evans, and Gregor Hohpe. I had never even really talked with any of them before, scary people. Their eyes can penetrate you 🙂 I had also not given very many talks at this point.
I must have had 7 cups of coffee before my talk. I met up with Aino (from TriFork, a regular at all the QCon/TriFork events) as she was my track host. She even commented that I was bouncing off the walls.
I will skip over the talk. Suffice to say that Eric (who is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, really its hard to tease a disagreement out of :)) came to me afterwards with some pros (and cons) about the talk. I have always liked that we say pros and cons never the other way around, it makes it feel like its an overall positive experience.
It wasn’t. The harshest words I believe were “I think I might have understood 20-30% of what you said which means everyone else was likely below that”. Ouch.
However this became a chance to try to improve. I spent the next year doing user group talks, refining how I explained things, took some workshops on speaking etc etc. When I did the talk a second time people thought it was quite a good presentation.
It goes to show you that even what you may think is a bad talk may still have really valuable information that is just not being packaged or explained properly. This is an important realization both as a presenter and as an audience member. Often times asking the right questions at the end can help to crystallize concepts.
Fast-forward to 2012 and I will keynote QCon London. Invited by Aino who I am sure I made sift through a pile of red cards only five years ago. I will try to avoid having seven cups of coffee before this talk.