I spent the past few days in Las Vegas for the Cisco Live 2017 C-Scape industry analysts meetup. I had two days (thankfully in air conditioned rooms and buses) of meetings with executives, leaders of product groups, and customers in general sessions, round table discussions and one on one meetings. I also attended the opening keynote with Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins and had the pleasure to witness his sit down conversation with Apple CEO Tim Cook. There is plenty of news about Cisco’s announcements, products, and technologies in the news, so I won’t repeat those sorts of things here. This DevRelate blog post is focused on how Developer Relations outreach can be multiply integrated into a company’s in-person conference.
Best Practices for an Integrated Developer/User Event
At most technology company conferences, you already have most of your executives, product managers, marketing specialists, and technology gurus. Combining partner, analyst, partner, ecosystem and press meetings into the same location makes a lot of sense. Cisco did a great job of bringing us into the middle of their conference including meetings with customers who talked about their success stories. We had plenty of time to ask questions during the meetings as well as during informal conversations during dinners later in the evening.
I got to hear from customers during some of the general sessions and round table discussions. While it is always good to talk with members of the teams, it is a special pleasure to be able to listen to and ask questions of customers and their experiences.
I really enjoyed the discussions with Michael Giresi, CIO of Royal Caribbean about how extended teams work closely together to enhance their customer’s experiences with project teams that include IT, DevOps, Business, Product, and Developer members. From my notes he said “it is about the team being accountable for the complete solution – embedding accountability for the complete experience versus just the application experience. Assign ownership for the performance of the whole solution – assign the right people to the ‘whole team’. The concept of applications and infrastructure being separate is nuts! The old way doesn’t work anymore.”
I also got to talk with Michael Sherwood, Director of the Department of Information Technologies for the City of Las Vegas about the implementation of their Smart City plans to include IoT, Open Data and Developer APIs. Michael even sent me a follow up email yesterday with additional information and links.
It was very clear that software, developers and APIs were front and center in just about every hardware and software product presentation and demonstration. Integrating a very active Cisco DevNet Zone in the convention center with class rooms, hands on workshops, and cool developer solutions also reinforced the theme of developers at the center of everything. While developers often think of APIs for platforms, frameworks and services, Cisco also demonstrated the openness of programming at the ASIC level.
When you are planning your conference, you can leverage your company and team members investments to the maximum by integrating your whole “extended” ecosystem – technology, marketing, research, partners, analysts, experts, authors, consultants, developers, thought leaders, trainers, educators, and others to orchestrate a complete event. For those technology and software companies that integrate and add value, you can also be a part of the larger story during the event. I am probably already preaching to the choir, but piggy-backing on an event to reach out to a larger developer audience is always a good thing.
Just before I left the Cisco DevNet Zone and the convention center, I stopped by the Cisco DevNet Opportunity Project pod. Cisco DevNet is encouraging developers, companies and others to get involved to “unleash the power of data and technology to expand economic opportunity in communities nationwide. To create solutions that help families, local leaders, and businesses access information about the resources they need to succeed.” Find out more about the US Department of Commerce Opportunity Project at https://opportunity.census.gov/
While it was extremely hot outside in Las Vegas this week (glad to be home in the cool environment of Monterey Bay), it was also extremely beneficial to see the awesome team at Cisco and the wide array of tech companies and developers working together to move our industry forward. I hope that you all have success in your future events whether they be small, medium, large, extra large or XXXXL.
What are your Best Practices for a Completely Integrated Developer Event Experience?
If you have your own best practices where you integrate multiple audiences, partners, press, analysts, users, developers and others in your events, send me an email with what works best for you.
David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
We just completed the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference which was held in Palo Alto California on March 27 and 28 (the Boot Camp took place on Sunday March 26th). As I was watching some of the presenters and their presentations, I was thinking back to the early presentation training I received from Jerry Weissman. I love sitting in on other speaker presentations. I know there is always something new I can learn about speaking in front of an audience including tips, techniques, slides and demos. While we were doing our conference retrospective meeting back in the office, I was thinking about what more I can do to help Developer Relations professionals and decided to pull together some of what I learned from Jerry and other presenters over my many years of presentations, panel discussions, webinars, product launches, and meetups.
Beyond the title of this article, here are see some of my thoughts about what I’ve learned by giving presentations, what I’ve seen in watching other presenters, and the days I spent, years ago, with Jerry Weissman. The only other piece of advice I have is to practice and present as often as you can – if you want to add presenting to your skills inventory.
Power Presentations, Ltd.: Corporate Presentation Training – Jerry Weissman
About Jerry: “Jerry Weissman is the world’s number one corporate presentations coach. His private client list reads like a who’s who of the world’s best companies, including the top brass at Yahoo!, Intel, Intuit, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Dolby Labs and many others.” Read more about Jerry and his company – https://www.powerltd.com/aboutus/
You should definitely Buy and Read his book: Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, Updated and Expanded Edition
Jerry’s top words of wisdom about your presentation: “The key building block for Audience Advocacy is WIIFY — What’s In It For You. The WIIFY is the audience benefit. In any presentation, before you make any statement about yourself or your company, or the products and services you offer, ask yourself, What’s the WIIFY? What benefit does this offer my listener?”
Presenting to a Live Audience or Meeting
Here are the three aspects for giving a great presentation that includes slides/visuals. Doing live demonstrations or products and technologies adds several additional levels of training, setup, practice and especially how to handle “exception” cases when the demos don’t go very well.
- Eye Contact – keep your eyes on the audience, not on the floor, sky, etc. Look around the audience – front, left, right, middle, back. Move about the stage or front of the room – but don’t make quick moves like some comedians do, and don’t pace. Pretend that you are speaking one on one – in those conversations you usually look in the other person’s eyes when you are speaking with them. Do the same with your audience.
- Reach Out – engage the audience with your hands, person. This advice comes from the days of the Knights with the handshake. A Knight meeting another Knight, would reach out their hand to show that they didn’t have a weapon. Reaching out to the audience will bring them in, show that you are open to them. If you feel comfortable, you can even go out in to the audience or move about the room. One time I started my talk while sitting in the audience with attendees and then moved around before I got to the front of the room. A couple other bits of advice for reaching out to the audience:
- Avoid using a podium. While you need something to put your computer on – use a table, or stand for the computer. Speakers hide behind the podium, use it as a crutch, grab on to it. This means that you are putting barriers between you and your audience.
- Use a remote control to advance your slides. This way you are separated from the computer and engaged more with the audience. Even better would be to have someone advance your slides – this way you don’t have anything in your hands that you might fiddle with. If you don’t have someone to advance your slides you can always combine moving to get some water and hit the spacebar on your computer and then move away.
- Avoid putting your hands in your pockets – this could alarm the audience that you are going for a weapon, or keep you from reaching out. If you feel compelled to fidget with your hands – do it behind your back for a moment.
- Animate – be animated but not crazy. It’s okay to nod your head, move your hands/arms around – not waving wildly – shake your head and shoulders. Don’t stand stiff even if you are petrified during a talk. Moving about will help you relax and also support having eye contact with a larger audience/room and also is part of your reaching out to the audience.
2) Avoid the Um(s), Ah(s), And(s), So(s), You Know(s), Stutter Starts/Restarts, etc.
- Presenters sometimes feel that they always need to be talking doing a presentation. We feel compelled to be speaking, outputting audio even when moving between thoughts, bullet points, etc. Unconsciously many of us will use the Um(s), Ah(s) and such – often without realizing it. A better approach is to pause and rest your voice for a moment – this also lets the audience take a rest (they need it too). The only real way to fix this (if you have a bad case of them) is to record yourself giving a presentation for about 10-15 minutes at least. Play it back and watch and listen to yourself to count how many times you hear yourself with the Um(s) and Aw(s). As someone who edits presentations and webinars to create replays, I can tell you that I will usually remove 3-5 minutes of them in a 30 minute presentation. I still have this problem, using during Q&A time.
- Let the audience read a quote – and you read along with them quietly at a “normal” reading pace. Instead of reading a quote that is already on your slide and the screens. The audience will be reading the quote while you are reciting it anyway. Let them. After you and they have read the quote, then you can talk about why you put the quote on the screen. IF your slide has a video with audio – you usually wouldn’t talk over the audio – why talk while everyone is reading?
- Stutter Starts/Restarts – here I am not talking about stuttering. I’m talking about the starting a thought, stopping, starting the thought again, stopping, changing your starting thought. My advice is to put a slide up or listen to a question being asked and think a bit before you start talking. Again, the audience is still probably taking in the Slide, the question, the image. It’s okay for a few seconds to make sure you have your thoughts together and then talk. This can also happen to some presenters when you are trying to think and speak at the same time. Practicing your presentation, reviewing your slides multiple times before a presentation will help you feel that you can talk without starting, stopping, restarting. Allowing yourself to think on your feet and then speak will also allow the audience to think.
3) Mr. Roy G. Biv – Creating your presentation
3a) Colors – know the color spectrum and what colors work well with others. Take a look at the following and be reminded of our dear old friend: Roy G. Biv. Who is Roy? No one but it serves to remind us of what colors to combine in your presentations. Of course there are variations of colors beyond the specific rainbow and spectrum – Red, Light Red, Pink, etc.
ROY G BIV + White, Shades of Grey and Black – the Chinese restaurant menu of choices.
Choose one from column A:
Choose one from column B:
- Green – works with just about everything
Choose one from column C:
Have you noticed how well Yellow on a Blue background looks good? Adding drop shadows can also increase the clarity. You can use White, Black and shades of Grey with your choices.
3b) Color challenged attendees – the challenges related to how the eye is constructed and works – think Rods and Cones. The fact that some humans have eye conditions that might steer you to avoid certain colors or color combinations because of color blindness and other color based sight impairments. There are different types or color categories for color blindness:
- Red Green color blindness – the most common type of color blindness – three conditions: Protanomaly (1 % of males) – Red, Orange and Yellow can appear greener. Protonopia (1 % of males) – red appears black. Shades of orange, yellow and green appear as yellow. Deuteranomaly (5 % of males) – yellow and green can appear redder, can be difficult to distinguish between violet and blue. Deuteranopia (1 % of males) – red looks brownish yellow, green looks beige.
- Blue Yellow color blindness – rarer than red green – two conditions: Tritanomaly (extremely rare) – Blue appears greener and it can be difficult to tell yellow and red from pink. Tritanopia (extremely rare) – blue appears greener, yellow appears violet or light grey
- Complete color blindness – most rare. Two forms: Cone Monochromacy – trouble distinguishing colors. Rod Monochromacy or achromatopsia – everything is black, white and grey.
3c) Resources for additional reading in this area
Other Presenter and Presentation Aspects to Consider
There are many other aspects for building and giving a great presentation. This blog post could go on for ever. Of course, as a presenter, you should be yourself, smile, exude enthusiasm, be confident, consider making startling statements, and more. For your slide show here are a few bits of advice that I review from time to time.
- Room temperature – depending on the room size, you may have to deal with cold or hot rooms. What should you do? Remember first that the audience will also feel the same effects of the room temperature and humidity. If you have control over the environment, have the hotel, convention center or team set the room temperature as if it has bodies in it. If you can’t control the environmental aspects – then you (and your audience) can follow the same advice we give each other about wearing layers that you can take off and put on throughout the presentation.
- Sound System, Speakers noise, buzzing, hum – get to the room early (if you can) and check out the audio system (do a sound check) if there is one. If there is a nasty background noise in the audio system – have the AV team fix the problem before you start. No one likes to hear buzzing, static or hum while you are presenting. It is a major distraction. If your presentation has audio in it – make sure you have the right connectors and sound levels. Alert the A/V team as far in advance that you have special requirements for your computer, audio, power, device, etc. setup. Again, get into your room early to make sure you have all that you need. Don’t assume connectors or adapters. If you are going to be presenting a lot, bring what you need.
- Video Connectors – depending on your computer, notebook, and device – bring connectors, adapters and cables to connect to the projector or large monitor. My MacBook Pro has HDMI output. This is the norm today for most “modern” projectors and monitors. But, just in case, I also bring adapters for VGA and DVI just in case.
- Internet Connection – Most places have Internet access. But sometimes the quality of the Internet signal or speed is less than what you need. Sometimes you will need some ports opened that are blocked in the location you are presenting. I have a second mobile phone that I can set up as a Hot Spot to give me a better quality and open ports. For example, I use Airplay to display the screen of my iPhone on my Mac connected to a projector/monitor. Airplay requires some ports that are often blocked. The only ways around this are to ask that an Airplay set of ports be opened (good luck) or to use an alternate Internet connection – hot spot to the rescue. The second benefit of using a phone as a Hot Spot is to avoid being caught up in bad internet speed in a hotel or convention center, or too many other devices connected to the same Wi-Fi or wired network.
- Your Cell Phone – set it to “Do Not Disturb” or completely off. Put it away from the sound system to avoid interference, buzzing and other distractions. Do not have it in your pocket or attached to your belt. Unless it is part of your demo, tell anyone who might message or call that you are giving a presentation during a specific date/time and won’t be monitoring your phone.
- Fluids – If you are going to keep hydrated, drink still water that is room temperature. No Ice Water – constricts the vocal cords? Avoid too much coffee, never drink alcohol before, during or after a presentation (unless it is in the evening after all of your sessions are completed), Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, chocolate/sugar, etc. Be naturally amped up for your audience. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (ok, watch your total fluid intake so that you won’t need to take an unplanned break in the middle of your presentation).
- Floor monitors for video and audio – For a larger room/convention center – have a floor monitor (or 2 or 3 if it is a large stage and large audience) between you, stage and the audience. If there isn’t room or separate monitor available, it’s okay to turn look at a slide and refer to it. It’s also good to have audio monitor speakers between you and the audience (if possible) – then you won’t have to ask the audience if they can hear you. You can hear what the audience is hearing.
- Audio Feedback and Projector Blindness – avoid getting near the PA system speakers. The audience doesn’t want to hear a 60’s Jimi Hendrix guitar/amp feedback. If the projector is not behind the screen or raised above your head, now where the beam is and avoid standing between the projector and the screen. Don’t go near the light “Carol Anne” – you’ll have spots in your eyes for a while.
- Lighting – Don’t have bright lights shine on the screen that your presentation is being projected on. The lights will wash out your slides. While you don’t want to have complete dark in the room, you can usually play with the room pre-sets to get lights off the screen. If you can’t control the lights yourself, you can ask the hotel or convention center to set up a preset for your room. One other option would be to move your screen and projector to another part of the room where the ceiling lights won’t affect the quality of your slides.
Practice, Practice, Practice
- Practice in the mirror and on camera. I know that it is hard to watch yourself on video, but it is important to take an honest look at yourself. Count the number of um(s), ah(s), bobbles, times not looking into the camera, etc. Think about what you see in regards to what you have read above and also what you are trying to accomplish in your presentation. How does it look and sound to you?
- If you’re the kind of person that can’t practice to a camera, to an empty room or in front of a mirror, practice in front of your family, office mates, or a picture of a group of people.
- Rinse and Repeat – make any changes/adjustments. Record yourself again. Do you see improvements? Do you have less um(s), ah(s), not look at and reaching out to the camera and animating? Repeat as often as necessary.
Give lots of Presentations of Different Types/Kinds
Variety is the Spice of Life! Once you are ready, give lots of presentations or all types, topics and lengths. Solicit and read (if there are speaker evaluation forms) all of comments after your presentations. Take all of the comments and suggestions to heart. Remember also, that there might always be one or a few outlier evaluators in your audience that don’t like you, don’t like your presentation, and don’t like anything. It is okay to try and learn a nugget from these attendees, but don’t let that color all of the other feedback.
Good Luck (So Long) and Thanks for All the Fish!
I wish you all good luck in all of your future presentations. I hope that all of your presentations will be warmly received. While you might have a less than stellar presentation from time to time, you can always learn from missteps and get more comfortable and professional as a presenter every time you get in front of an audience.
Do You have your own Presentation Tips and Experiences?
Send me an email if you have your own presentation best practices or links to your favorite presenter advice articles.
David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Conferences are, and have always been, a mainstay of developer outreach and marketing. Developers like conferences, especially those with a lot of meaty technical sessions by the engineers that build the technology. Key benefits for attending developer conferences include the technical sessions by developers who know great tips and techniques. Developers attending conferences also mention the social aspects of a conference: the networking, social interaction, and discussion with other developers. Sometimes developers need to send their manager a “Conference Approval Letter”.
Most conferences are put on by vendors and concentrate on that vendor’s technology, platform, service, device, etc. You might think that conferences would only be put on by very large companies with breadth and depth to provide a full schedule of keynotes and sessions. Smaller companies might put on conferences that are shorter and with less sessions. Some companies will partner with a non-competing company to put on a conference. Other companies will piggy-back a conference on a larger industry event. In any case, developers attend conferences, and most attend more than two per year.
One of the conference to-do items that I’ve used in the past is to provide potential attendees with a template letter they can customize to convince their manager to allow them to attend the conference. The letter includes information about the event, what attendees will learn, what best practices and ideas will be brought back, what contacts will be made, and how attending will help their company, employees, products and customers.
As an example of what a request to attend a conference template letter might look like, I have created a sample email/letter/memo for our upcoming 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference.
Template Email/Letter/Memo Requesting Approval to Attend a Conference
Here is a draft email/letter/memo you can use to request approval to attend the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference, March 27 & 28, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto, California
Subject: Request for Authorization to attend the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference
I would like your approval for me to attend the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference, March 27 & 28, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto, California. The conference features two days of keynotes and sessions by leading executives and directors of Developer Relations and Advocacy programs for top technology companies in the world. This is a conference unlike any other, developer relations experts from leading companies in the software, telecom and web markets will come together to discuss best practices and reveal the techniques behind their success!
At the conference I will learn developer outreach best practices, tips & advice, and other aspects of running a world class developer relations program from the business side (program ROI, the connection between developer programs and company revenue, budgeting for/costs of developer programs, how to get an organization’s commitment of internal resources, etc.) to the marketing side (techniques for recruitment, awareness tactics, community loyalty building programs, legal/privacy and global privacy considerations, conducting a privacy audit, internationalizing a US-based developer program, etc.), and much more.
During the conference I will have ample opportunity to network with top developer relations program managers, ask specific questions that can help our developer outreach plans and learn “The Art of Evangelism” from Guy Kawasaki, the chief evangelist of Canva, board of trustees member of the Wikimedia Foundation, a brand ambassador for Mercedes Benz USA, executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and former chief evangelist of Apple.
Who will be attend:
- VPs, CTOs, and CEOs
- Business Development Managers & Directors
- Managers & Directors of Developer Programs
- Product Marketing Managers & Directors
- Marketing Managers
- Technology & Developer Evangelists
- Products Managers
- Research Managers
- Corporate Communications Managers
- Heads of Developer Marketing
If you approve my attendance before December 31, 2016 I can take advantage of the super early bird pricing and save our company $400. If you approve before January 31, 2017 I can save $300 on the full conference price of $1295.
Thank you in advance for considering this opportunity for me to attend this unique conference. Please let me know if you need additional information about the conference. You can find additional information, conference schedule, speaker list and companies planning to attend on the conference web site at https://evansdata.com/drc/2017/
I look forward to your reply.
[Your Name Here]
PS: There is also a pre-conference Developer Relations Boot Camp that can additionally prepare me for the two day conference. The Evans Data Corporation’s Developer Relations Boot Camp provides a solid foundation on which I can build or enhance our developer program. Concentrated sessions in this one-day instructional program provide the insight and actionable information I can use to build our brand and establish strong relationships with our developer community.
The combination of an experienced boot camp faculty and Evans Data developer research will guide:
- Careful consideration regarding the reasons why developers seek out and participate in developer programs
- The most effective means of reaching out to them
- How you can leverage social media to greatest effect.
At the end of the day I will leave with a certificate of completion as well as the knowledge and confidence to create, enhance and run a world class developer program.
Other “need to convince your boss?” example conference template letters
Here are a few additional examples of template letters that conferences have provided for their target attendees.
Do you have developer conference manager approval template letters?
If you have your own template manager approval letters that you provide to your program members, send me an email with the link or text.
David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Have you ever given an Ignite Talk? An ignite talk is 20 slides presented in 5 minutes with the slides automatically advancing every 15 seconds. I am inviting all developer relations professionals attending our upcoming 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference, to join the best of the best and “Pitch your Developer Relations Program” on Wednesday, March 28 in Palo Alto California.
Why give an Ignite Talk about your developer program? You already know the topic and talking points. Your Ignite talk is becomes a reusable presentation! You can give the same talk at other Ignite events happening around the world. Preparing an Ignite talk, helps you boil down your company’s message and developer outreach to a duration and format that is more than an elevator pitch and less than a keynote. Pitching your program at our conference will educate the other developer relations professionals about your company, products and outreach program. And, you can win prizes!
You can learn more about giving and attending Ignite Talks on the Ignite web site. You can watch example Ignite talks on the same site. You can also find other Ignite events on the web site. The site also gives you advice about creating Ignite events in your own cities. Once you give an Ignite talk you’ll want to give more of them. You’ll want to add Ignite talks to your future developer conferences and events. You can encourage your developer community members to give Ignite talks.
Ignite talks are given around the world on a wide range of topics. Why use “Pitch Your Developer Program” as the theme for our conference’s Ignite talks?
- The topic is something you already know and are passionate about
- Preparing and Giving an Ignite Talk will help you become a better presenter
- You can be a “speaker” at our 13th Annual Developer Relations Conference.
- It allow all attendees to be quickly educated about your program
- Attendees will be able to easily compare multiple developer relations programs
- As part of the competition the audience will vote to see who gave the best talk
The Ignite talks session is on the second day of the conference, Tuesday, March 28 from 3pm to 4:15pm. I’ll use the first 2 minutes to welcome everyone to the session and the line up of presenters. Then each presenter will have one minute to get set (you’ll have already sent me your 20 slides in advance), 5 minutes to give the presentation, and one minute to decompress. At the end of all of the presentations use up about 5 minutes to list each Ignite talk and have the audience cheer for the presentation they liked the best. I’ll use an applause/clap-o-meter app on my Smart phone to measure the audience response displaying the level on the screen. I’ll give wicked, awesome prizes to the top presenters!
I’m Looking for 9 Ignite Talks Volunteers to “Pitch Your DevRel Program”
Who can give a “Pitch Your DevRel Program” Ignite talk at DRC2017? Any attendee of the conference can sign up to be an Ignite presenter.
Given the amount of time I have in the conference schedule, I’m looking for 9 Ignite presenters. If you are interested, send me an email and I’ll add you to my list (first come, first accepted). I will send a confirmation after I receive your email with additional information, requirements and deadlines.
A few tips to get you started so you’ll say to joining our Ignite Talk presenter list – You Can Do This!
1) Quickly write down 20 short things you would cover in your Ignite talk:
- your Developer Program name
- your Name, Title, high school fight song (just kidding about this last item)
- your Company
- your products/services/devices/platforms
- the coolness and uniqueness of your technologies
- the developers you have and are looking for
- your Developer program’s features and benefits
- what developers can do with your SDKs, APIs, tools, libraries, frameworks, devices
- cool apps that your developer communities are creating
- how your community members are changing the world
- why every developer wants to be a member of your program
2) Transfer your 20 notes onto Powerpoint slides – keep bullet text to a minimum. Use Images, Infographics, Diagrams.
3) Use the “rehearse timings” feature to set the 15 seconds duration for each slide
4) Practice, Practice, Practice
Send me your slides when you are ready.
I’ll need your slide deck by one week before the conference, end of day Monday, March 20th, 2017.
Remember: an Ignite Talk is 20 slides, 5 minutes, and the slides automatically advance every 15 seconds.
Ignite Talk Resources
Ignite Talks web site – http://www.ignitetalks.io/
Ignite Talk video examples – http://www.ignitetalks.io/videos
Best Practices for Preparing an Ignite Talk:
This is Going to Be Fun!
If you have any questions or want to sign up, send me an email.
David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation