Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rehearsing is for professionals

Seth Godin’s recent blog post, Rehearsing is for cowards, makes the point that presentations work better when the presenter hasn’t rehearsed but rather “explores” the subject. That’s possibly true for presentations on soft subjects or those given from the heart, although I’d argue that you have to at least have a goal of hitting certain points and moving in a certain direction or else you’re just rambling. However, that’s just wrong for presenters doing technical topics.

Even those new to technical conferences, such as the upcoming Southwest Fox, can spot the difference between rehearsed and unrehearsed sessions. The former go smoothly, the latter are embarrassing and painful for everyone involved. “Hitches”, as Seth calls them, in a technical session do the opposite of “help[ing] us leap forward”. Instead, they convince the audience that either the presenter didn’t care enough about them or their own reputation to ensure they gave a quality session or that the topic is so difficult that even an expert can’t get it right.

One of the worst sessions I ever attended was by someone who had spoken before so had no excuse for his shoddy preparation. This clueless speaker spent half of the session looking for the menu items that lead to the dialogs he wanted to show. It was excruciating watching him move the mouse to the first item, move up and down the list, then move to the next one and repeat the process. Practicing the session even once would have eliminated that problem. The result: I got nothing from the session other than the resolution to never hear him speak again.

Fortunately, that’s not a problem you’ll encounter at Southwest Fox. Every speaker is a professional. By “professional”, I don’t mean someone who gets paid to speak. Rather, I mean someone who cares about their craft and their audience enough to work and polish and tune and hone their session until it’s as good as can be.

Now, I don’t think rehearsing means you don’t vary your sessions. Every time I present a session, I think of different ways to get the point across, different jokes to tell at certain places, and sometimes (not too often) even different samples to show. After all, you wouldn’t want to see a completely canned session given by a robot. In fact, I’d argue that practicing your session until you have it down cold gives you the freedom to improvise when appropriate because you have the confidence you can stay on track.

Southwest Fox starts four weeks from today and I can’t wait!

Monday, September 13, 2010

FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award

The committee has selected multiple FoxPro Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for 2010. The names will be announced at the closing session (Sunday) of Southwest Fox in October and during the German DevCon in November. I will post in the various VFP forums (my blog, the Universal Thread, Foxite, FoxWiki, etc.) after each conference.

Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

More Southwest Fox News

We are disappointed that Craig Boyd will be unable to present at Southwest Fox 2010; we look forward to his return in the future. We are delighted that Jody Meyer has agreed to step in. She'll present two topics: Web Development using CSS - 101 and It's Easy & It's Green: PDF Output. Jody did a terrific job when she presented at last year's Southwest Fox and we're happy to have her back.

Listen to FoxShow #68, in which Eric Selje discusses his sessions on extending web applications with VFP and getting into the VFP2C32 library.

Amongst our more than $65,000 in door prizes are four copies of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN, worth $11,899 each!

Kevin Ragsdale has another gem in his series of posts on Southwest Fox, this time discussing the Ceil Silver Ambassador Fund.

Only five weeks until Southwest Fox!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

More Southwest Fox Links

Kevin Ragsdale has two more excellent blog posts about Southwest Fox sessions he’s been at in the past and what he’s looking forward to seeing this year: Christof Is A Freaking Genius and My Favorite Teacher Is Speaking At Southwest Fox.

The FoxShow has three episodes related to Southwest Fox: FoxShow #65, with Rick Schummer, Tamar Granor, and me discussing this year’s conference, FoxShow #66, in which Toni Feltman discusses her Lean/Agile and Pomodoro sessions, and FoxShow #67, in which Rick Borup discusses his Design Patterns and Ruby and Rails sessions. Andrew apparently has another one coming up featuring Eric Selje.

Southwest Fox starts six weeks from today. Have you registered yet?

More Looking at Stonefield Query

George Jensen of CustomerFX has added several more posts about his experience learning Stonefield Query. Check out his articles: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.