Darn it, when I get my reviews back from a conference, I want them to say “Perfect”, “Wonderful”,”The best conference I have ever gone to, bar none”, and no matter how many times I offer to fill in the evaluation forms from people, well, let’s just say that there are always a few people who don’t say these things. I saw Grant Fritchey’s post, and started mine, then saw Marco Russo and Andy Leonard’s while mine stewed overnight… So I am clearly not the pioneer here.
In reality, this was probably my best set of evals ever. One year, I was the fifth lowest in the list. Fifth…lowest. I was very much on the verge of quitting at the time. But frankly my friend Wayne Snyder gave me the best advice ever. Who cares what they think, just speak about what you care about. (At least I think it was Wayne, we have had a few memorable conversations over time, and I think we were standing in the front of a bus at the time, but I digress). As a person of (ahem) alternate shape, I have a lot of self consciousness pent up left over from my high school years, and to be honest, I often get that fear of people laughing at me going around and around in my head. In the end I realized that I wanted to try to end the poor database craptacular explosion that (from the examples I have seen) has been spreading throughout the world. Imagining that the audience is all dressed in bright blue bunny eared parkas doesn’t hurt either.
In the end I know I write better than I speak, and one comment was “'Work on the delivery; otherwise, good content.”. I am just glad this person wasn’t leaving comments five years ago :)
The session was database design, and on a five scale, the ratings this time were (giving a 1 to “very poor” and a 5 to “excellent”:
How would you rate the usefulness of the session information in your day-to-day environment?
How would you rate the Speaker's presentation skills?
How would you rate the Speaker's knowledge of the subject?
How would you rate the accuracy of the session title, description, and experience level to the actual session?
How would you rate the amount of time allocated to cover the topic/session?
|4.475 ||4.675 ||4.85 ||4.7 ||4.525 |
Not shabby, and I am certainly happy that the highest score was for knowledge :). A few “poor” ratings, and one very poor (a 1) for the usefulness..Fair enough. Lots of excellent. I am never quite sure what people are expecting from a topic of Database Design, and I generally talk at a high level, briefly cover normalization, give some examples, and “bam!” an hour is gone. I tried to do more in the past, but we always got hung up and never made enough progress. At SQL Saturday events (which I have done two, and am doing the Richmond event Jan 30) I add a patterns session where I talk about the patterns I like to use to solve common problems. Still high level stuff, admittedly.
I have commonly used a lot of jokes/lists to keep the mood light and keep people from leaving the room after they realize they had gone to sleep and were drooling on their conference materials. (That is really not cool!) And to be honest, the old adage of making be laugh as a deflection is quite a useful tool. But, a couple of the comments were: "'Funny but a lot of stop and go." and "I would get rid of our 'lists.'" So they are gone! Okay, not gone, but I have been thinking of de-emphasizing them for a while. I am possibly doing a keynote later this year and I want to replace some of the lists with a more sermon-esque half-rant about the value of database design. I certainly am not going to lose the humor, but lowering the content will be good.
In any case, thank you to everyone who fills out your evals at conferences in a reasonable manner and leaves useful comments. We do read them, and we listen when they are not shouting/whining/insane. Like the person who commented “I hate to give all 5's, but Louis deserves them.”, that is the kind of constructive criticism a person likes to hear.
In any case, hope to see you in November, or at least sometime soon at an event.