I was checking out the calendar for the Florida .NET CodeCamps, and I am pleased to see we have 3 exciting codecamps on the schedule for June, July, and August:
- June 17 – Tallahassee
- July 15 – Tampa
- August 26 – Jacksonville
I absolutely love codecamps and look forward to hopefully speaking and attending some sessions.
As codecamps begin to be more and more popular, it seems as though the expectations of the codecamp attendees in terms of the quality of the speakers and presentations has in my opinion been raised to the level of paid speakers at major conferences.
Some attendees have perhaps forgotten that many of the presenters, although technically sharp, are first-time or maturing speakers. If this is indeed the case, this means they have probably spent hours-and-hours to create powerpoint slides, create code samples, and present the material at their home while their spouses, children, and pets looked on as if watching stand-up comedy. They did this in addition to the normal day-to-day responsibilities and activities that already populate most of their lives. And, in the case of first-time speakers coming from out of town, they have also spent their own time and money to get to the codecamp. Of course, this is true for all codecamp speakers, but imagine doing this for the first time
So, if you are attending a codecamp and listening to a session by a first-time or maturing presenter, I encourage you to make this speaker feel comfortable, rejoice in the fact that he or she has done a lot to be there, and thank him/her for presenting. If the speaker is a bit nervous and stumbles a bit, which can happen when speaking in front of a crowd :), be understanding, attentive and offer some interaction so that he or she can catch a breath and not feel so “alone.” As an attendee, if you play an active role in the success of the presentation, it will be much more fun and a better learning experience all-around.
I also think the .NET community in general, however, needs to encourage and assist first-time and maturing speakers at codecamps. Let’s help our local talent be the best they can be by offering a few “services”:
1) Provide a Mentor
Provide a mentor for each new speaker or any speaker who could use some extra help. The mentor would be a more experienced presenter that can answer any questions, help with logistics, provide helpful tips on slides and code samples, and even listen to one or more practice runs of the presentation.
2) Offer “Present-in-Pair” Opportunities
Facilitate the opportunity for new speakers to present in pairs. They can speak with a more experienced presenter, or depending on how comfortable they feel about presenting, speak with another new speaker. It is so much easier to tackle a presentation in pairs
3) Offer Assistance Evening Before CodeCamp
There is typically an event for the speakers the evening before the codecamp. This is a great time to help first-time speakers with any last-minute questions or assistance. It is also a great time to help calm their nerves as well as get input as to how things can be improved for next time.
4) Group New Speakers at Same Hotel
In those cases where you have new speakers coming from out-of-town, it would be nice to coordinate accommodations so that new speakers are perhaps staying at the same hotel and have been introduced to each other. This will allow them to bounce ideas off each other if they want, practice and give tips to one another, and just hang out. An added bonus would be to have one or more experienced presenters available at the same hotel who can help with any questions, too.
5) Morning of CodeCamp – Assistance With Facilities
An hour before the CodeCamp begins, let the first-time speakers hook up to an overhead projector and get familiar with the facilities. Let them run through their slides quickly just to see they are formatted correctly and viewable. For some speakers, this may be the first-time they have seen the slides on a projector or even worked with a projector.
6) Have Mentor or Helpful Person in Attendance of Presentation
It would be nice to have a mentor or helpful person in attendance of the first-time presentation. This person can provide interaction allowing the presenter to catch his/her breath as well as ask a question that helps break the ice or provides necessary information that may not be clear in the presentation, etc. As the codecamp scheduler, you need to make sure the mentor and first-time presenter are not presenting at the same time. It is always nice to see a friendly face in the crowd.
These are ideas off the top of my head, and I am sure there are others. If you will be running a codecamp soon, encourage your local talent, who may be first-time or maturing speakers, to speak by offering such services. Your codecamp will only get better and better as these speakers mature and gain confidence.
If you would like to speak for the first time at any of the Florida CodeCamps mentioned above but are a bit nervous or unsure of how to get started, please feel free to contact me, Joe Healy, your user group leader, any of our awesome MVP’s or Regional Directors, etc., and we will make sure your first codecamp presentation is a very positive experience
Enjoy the opportunities…