Another year comes to a close and Adobe’s second annual ColdFusion Summit has come and gone. The conference was good, but not quite as good as it was last year. The venue was definitively nicer, however, the talks were not all gems.
I understand it can be challenging to put together a presentation, and give that presentation in front of 50-100 of your peers. My hat is off to anyone who gives a talk at a conference or a meet-up. I do think you owe it to the crowd and the conference to try and make that talk the as interesting and entertaining as it can be.
So what makes a great talk? First of all try to tell a story, your talk should be polished and should tell the story of your idea or principal. This doesn’t mean you need to talk about slaying dragons or anything of that sort, but it does mean you are responsible for holding the audiences attention and keeping them engaged. Admittedly some of this stuff is just plain boring, but that is more of a reason that you need to convey excitement and passion to the crowd.
Explaining a concept is not quite as fun to listen to as something that feels interactive. Asking question to the crowd, and pausing a few seconds, only to give them the answer keeps their brains working and engaging with you. Adding your own flare to the presentation, such as funny gifs or cartoons can really bring a presentation to life. Something as simple as talking about code review and displaying the cartoon about code quality being measure in WTFs per minute. It keeps the crowd entertained and the endorphins rush of fun there.
Just remember you are responsible! So in the end there were a few gems that did stand out to me and they produced phenomenal presentations. They managed to engage with the crowd and delight the audience.
That being said I really cannot thank these people enough, the ones that really stood out in my mind were as follows.
Kev McCabe gave two wonderful presentations of software craftsmanship and TDD/BDD. He did a wonderful job of illustrating these concepts and bringing them to the ColdFusion community. Unfortunately these concepts are not as big of a part of the core fundamentals as they are in many other languages. Ruby being one of the biggest proponents of these concepts, and Java as well.
You have find both of his presentations on his website at bigmadkev.com/resources
Dan Wilson did a wonderful job of illustrating how to make your architecture scale. Pointing out some of the most obvious concerns and showing how those concerns could be addressed.
Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the slide or a link to this content. I will say if you have the chance to see him speak you wont regret it.
Finally David Epler set the bar very high indeed, he was the first speaker I saw at CFSummit. His talk on security was top notch! He did a great job of holding the crowd and demonstrating some of the power that can be wielded by hackers both white hat and black hat a like. It was astonishing. His presentation allowed us to see just how quickly we could be hacked and how quickly that attacker could have access to almost all of our information, both scary and very captivating.