My first experience of presenting at an UKOUG SIG
Posted by John Hallas on February 8, 2010
Just a quick note to say what happened, my impressions and thoughts on the process.
I originally got the idea for a presentation and ran the idea past an ex SIG chairman who I know. He suggested I mail the idea to the UNIX SIG chair and I quickly got feedback from UKOUG asking me to complete a precis of the talk and a title. Thinking of a title was undoubtedly the hardest part of the process.
The next step was a bit of a surprise as I was expecting some feedback or questions but I got an e-mail to state that I was doing a 45 minute slot in about 6 weeks time. I accepted but that does lead to a couple of thoughts. I never actually checked my calender to see what I had on that day and nobody had asked me how long my talk would take (and I did not know at the time). I understand now that talks of varying length from 20 minutes to at least 45 minutes can be arranged, so don’t let the idea of filling 45 minutes put you off.
I was well chivvied by Aimee at UKOUG, who kept the communication flow going very well, to provide my presentation electronically a few days before the event so that it could be made available online for anybody who wanted to print it off in advance. On the day I saw a couple of people with copies of the talk with them. I have mixed feelings about this, I can understand the reasons with very technical presentations covering such things as block dumps but on the day that I attended there was nothing that could have been gained from seeing any of the presentations in advance or printing out copies.
The day itself was very well organised and I got a different coloured lapel badge indicating I was a presenter. I had never been to a SIG before and one of the comments I made in my feedback was that I would not have attended this SIG if I had gone by what was on the agenda. However on the day I enjoyed every presentation and got something from them all. The first speaker was scheduled for 40-45 minutes but spoke at length and had to curtail his talk quite sharply after around 55 minutes. This did not help my nerves as my dummy run had taken 30 minutes and I expected to be quicker on the day and miss out some content and I was a bit worried about short-selling everyone. My consoling thought was that I was last on and nobody would mind getting away early.
The day went well, good talks, interspersed with coffee and lunch which was a good time for a chat. I did want to meet someone who worked at a company local to me but it was quite difficult to read name badges and therefore I never got chance to meet him. I knew he had registered because a sheet of all attendees and their company was given out on registering. However there was at least one person who was there who was not listed on the sheet but I did get talking to him anyway which worked out well. The RIBA building was very impressive and the lecture theatre itself was very well kitted out although the 50-60 people in the audience did look a little lost in a room designed for probably 200+.
My time to talk arrived and my slideshow was showing on screen and the lectern was complete with a pointer and slideshow mover on (I am sure there is a technical term available but it has escaped me for the moment). Once I started talking I was quite comfortable and rambled on for about 50 minutes which surprised me. I was happy to take questions both during and after and my talk seemed to generate a few which I considered to be good. I got nice feedback from several people afterwards as well.
I received a feedback form the next day and I got my feedback summary a fortnight later. The response was sufficient for me to have suggested another talk I might make.
I would definitely recommend the experience . It is a bit daunting, it can be a challenge presenting technical stuff to your peers (or in some cases people who know much more than you about the subject) but it is also very rewarding. I think it has developed me personally, it has gone down well at work and there are now another 50-60 UKOUG members who know my face and my name and can avoid me in the future if they want to.