Image via WikipediaIgnite Phoenix the Third was last night. And by all accounts, it was far and above the best event so far. The Tempe Center for the Arts was a great venue. A packed venue that quickly setup video screens outside the room for those who couldn't get in. 300+ extremely appreciative people. Wait, don't forget the beer and wine. That tends to help!
And yet, I walked away disappointed. Not in any of the things I mentioned above. Not in the organizers who did a fabulous job as usual. And not at my fellow presenters, some of which knocked it out of the park.
No, my disappointment comes as I reflect upon my own presentation. I screwed up. In three ways:
- Overconfidence: I spoke on a topic I'm well-versed in. I spent at least four hours assembling my 20 slides. I rehearsed it several times until I had the timing pat. I did all of that over a week ago. And then I didn't look at the presentation again until it started showing on the big screen.
I've heard it said that airline pilots work the hardest at takeoff and landing -- the plane pretty much flies itself in between those points. Turns out it's the same for me and presenting. Once I got rolling, it went pretty well. Even the ending was OK (since the Ignite format doesn't leave a lot of room for long "In conclusion..." slides). But I totally boffed the opening. Which threw me off for the rest of the presentation.
Had I spent 60 seconds flipping through the slides an hour before I went on, I would have nailed it. But I didn't. Cocksure doesn't go far enough to describe me at times.
- No outside editor: Simple mistakes get made. It's easy for our eyes to overlook them, especially when they are the same eyes that are connected to the brain that made the mistake in the first place. In my case, I had a unit of measurement wrong. The number that came from the calculations was right, but a transposing error threw the whole thing off. Sometimes these tiny mistakes crash presentations. Sometimes satellites. In hindsight, I should have sent the whole presentation -- a whopping five minutes -- to Phil Plait for vetting. He helped me with some of the math anyhow, and I'm sure he would have caught my gaff in an instant.
- No notes: I'm not much of a note-taking person. I craft my slides in such a way that they contain clues about what I want to say. And since I'm good at memorizing my points, it hasn't been much of an issue in the past. But the two prior errors caused me to be a bit flustered as I progressed, compounding errors. I forgot words. I transposed names. I started shooting from the hip. Granted, I've got decent aim from there. But it would have been better to have an anchor to draw me back in.
But don't get the impression that I bombed. I doubt I'll be banned from future talks. Everyone in the audience seemed to appreciate what I had to say. And all in all, the intent of my talk was successfully conveyed to the audience. Though I'm sure at least one person caught an error and wrote me off on principle. I say this because I do this.
The good news: I can fix it in post. I'll get some time to record myself giving the talk here in my own domain. Where I won't screw up. And that's the one I'll post for you.