DPC Talk Review

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of speaking at the excellent Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam. I haven't done anything like this before and I did a lot of preparation - as you'll know if you read this blog regularly.

My talk was entitled "PHP Deployment with Subversion" and was a series of suggested tricks for using Subversion, both tools and structure, to help with deployment. I'm on holiday in Amsterdam for a few days (since I haven't visited the city before) so I'm currently not able to upload my slides but I will post them here in a day or two. You can get a sneak preview though as there is flickr evidence of my presentation available.

I included a demonstration in my talk which showed a nabaztag (electronic funky rabbit device) notifying of different events, such as tests failing. What I hadn't really taken into account was that I'd be speaking in such a large room - there was seating for 400 people (about half full I think) and the rabbit is only 8 inches high or so, he was a bit little! I wasn't following the chatter at the time but I was hugely amused to see this tweet from Breuls when I checked twitter the next day!!

Overall my talk was relatively successful in the sense that I said what I wanted to, I didn't talk too much or too little, and my nabaztag demo actually worked. I do feel however that my nerves got the better of me - I'm rarely intimidated but having never spoken at a conference before I found it very difficult to adapt to speaking in the main hall. This is the first time I've used a microphone, they clipped it onto me and then I started giving the presentation, that was really strange. And also having a large stage with my slides projected on a screen the size of a small house ... you can't look at them, or point at them, or anything. I thought I'd become less nervous with time but I'm afraid it never happened! On a personal level, to give a talk like that, perfectly competently, is an achievement in itself and I'm trying to forget how hard it really was and just feel proud instead :) After the talk I only got one question, which was "Where can I get one of those rabbits?", so I wasn't sure if I had put my technical content across well. However quite a few people came to pick my brain afterwards so I guess I did OK.

I owe huge thanks to everyone who provided moral support and tried to convince me I'd be fine, and even more thanks to my boyfriend Kevin who did the setup for the nabaztag (Naz the nabaztag needed his own wireless network) and helped me write the code to run the demo. I'll write more about the rabbit and the demo at a later point, looks like a lot of people will be getting them :)

Speaking aside, I had a great few days meeting old friends and new ones at the conference, and attending some really interesting sessions. Speaking was very very stressful although perhaps only because I didn't handle it as well as I might have. The definite upside though is getting to hang out with the very cool kids at the Speakers Dinner afterwards - thanks guys, I had a wonderful night. All in all I can't wait for next year!

6 thoughts on “DPC Talk Review

  1. I really couldn't tell this was your first doing this, you're a natural!

    You just went through it a bit fast, slow it down a little next time and you'll come across like you've done it a dozen times before. You're a very engaging speaker, I bet this won't be the last time you'll be asked to do this, and not just as a token female speaker. You've got a stage presence some of the more experienced speakers are lacking.

  2. Lorna,

    You did fine, and it was a talk that fit in well with all the others, both on technical level as on presentation level.

    Okay, one thing for improvement: make a video of the rabbit, and show that instead of the real thing. I did see it standing there, but I didn't notice that it actually did something. Maybe it just didn't, but your post seems to suggest otherwise. Maybe it's an idea to still make the video and put it up together with your slides?

    ~RW

  3. I sat in the back and I noticed the ears flopping and its belly turning red and green. Pretty cute!

    Lorna, you did well indeed, it was a presentation you can be proud of! (and maybe some day you'll actually forgive me for inviting you ;))

  4. Michael: Hey, I survived it anyway, thanks for dropping in.

    Rick: Thanks for the tip, pacing myself was something I have been struggling with, so feedback on that is really helpful!

    Remi: The demo seemed like a nice idea when I thought there would be 20-30 people, it did get a bit lost in the big room though! I might take a video of the rabbit doing his thing anyway, in case anyone missed it :)

    Ivo: Oh forgiven already - it was always a great opportunity to have even if I didn't handle it brilliantly. I had no idea how stressful it would be but I learned a lot in the process of preparation, and experience is never wasted!

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