Myself, Scott Lowe and Duncan Epping have been talking offline for some weeks/months about steps that can be done to encourage and support more members of the community stepping up to the plate to present at their local VMUGs. Of course, the reasons why VMUG Leaders are flooded with requests at the end of a VMUG day are many and varied – and I don’t want to rehearse and counter those arguments here/again. But one thing that struck us all, is that often when people do present they get “Feedback”. Now, that’s great for someone like me who presents the same content pretty frequently, but it might be less than useful for an individual who may only present that content once.
It occurred to me that what was really needed as “FeedForward” – help and assistance BEFORE the event, not afterwards when the whole thing is done and dusted. It’s quite an informal thing right now. My first #FeedForward help was to Nick Furnell who is located in the North-West of the UK. I did two Skype sessions with Nick as he took me through his experiences with Nimble Storage – the subject of his VMUG Presentation. A couple of thing stuck me about the session. Firstly, Nick really knew his content – in away he probably didn’t realise. It was from me asking asking questions that he realised he knew the topic inside and out. So merely the process of being asked questions was a positive confidence booster – There’s a tendency to self-abnegate with presentations “I boring. I don’t know what I’m talking about. No-one will be interested in what I have to say”. Clearly, none of these evil confidence daemons are true. Secondly, this QA session pre-prepared Nick for the questions he could face in the session. One of the reasons I was such an excellent instructor (sic) was that no one saw the 3 terrible courses I previously taught, where I’d earned my stripes. Folks thought I was some guru because I had the answers to their question. It pains me to admit I wasn’t a guru. I’d just heard the questions soooo many times before they were there for instant recall. Practise makes perfect after all.
So. If you a VMUG member. Considering a presentation. I’d be happy to help and support you in a similar way. Ideally, we need some sort of program (perhaps a designated individual in the VMUG Leadership team/per chapter) to take up the slack. It’s not really feasible for just a couple of guys to do this globally – it won’t scale. And we all know what happen when you have something that doesn’t scale, right? At the moment I’m looking into a program called ToastMasters who have chapters around the global. Seeing what can be learned from them, and if we can use them – or at least learn from their experiences – to develop some type of “mentoring” program.