I’m finally coming down off of the emotional high that I had coming home from Tech Ed NA 2012 in Orlando. I had a very long week, met a lot of great people that I only knew by their twitter account or blog postings, and saw some interesting content.
My first day started off with a bang, as I was entered into the ‘Speaker Idol’ competition. This was a VERY important event for me, as I have been aspiring to present at a Tech Ed conference for years. The Speaker Idol competition is a talent contest in the same vein as American Idol: competitors give a brief presentation each of the first three days. The three winners and a wild card from the 3 second place entrants go to the finals. The winner of the finals on Thursday gets a full invite to Tech Ed 2013 to present a full session.
I was the third to present on the first day, and consequently the pressure was on from the moment I stepped off of the plane. I attended the first day’s keynote that covered Microsoft System’s Center, and was wholly unimpressed. As a developer, I could see that I would be drowning in IT content for the week.
I skipped the second session of the day so that I could focus on practicing and being ready for Speaker Idol after lunch. When the competition started, I watched the first two entrants and kept my confidence about me, as I was about to give a presentation that had content no one could compare against.
I took my lumps from the judges and was awarded second place on the day. I knew it would be up to me at that point to attend the other 2 preliminary rounds and pray that the second place finishers did not stand up to the quality presentation I started the week with.
I attended several very good sessions on using Visual Studio 2012 for testing, application life-cycle management, and how to get more out of the tool with shortcuts and hot keys. I even attended a few sessions on Windows Azure architecture and service bus use.
As part of my volunteerism with INETA, I assisted in two ‘Birds-Of-A-Feather’ sessions. For the uninitiated, these are group discussion sessions with experts to assist in advancing the discussion. I assisted with a session on ‘Local Developer Community’ that was sparsely attended and a session on ‘Better Scrum’ that had about a 75% room attendance rate. Both were interesting topics, and it was great to assist on a session at the conference, as I walked away feeling like I (in some very small way) contributed.
On Wednesday afternoon, I received the message from (Speaker Idol host) Richard Campbell that I was to be the wild card entrant into the finals of Speaker Idol. From that point, I knew I had nothing to lose. I attended a final session that afternoon, and spent a chunk of the evening with colleagues re-writing parts of my presentation to comply with the judges criticisms from earlier in the conference.
On Thursday at lunch, I got the draw and it was determined that I would be the last speaker. This was a golden opportunity for me, as I could make the lasting impressions with the judges when they go into their final deliberation. I gave my presentation, and the judges commentary came down.
I was quite disappointed that the changes that I made to meet their comments were met with exactly the opposite commentary than what they delivered in the initial round. For example: I removed a faux demo failure in the talk and replaced it with a sample that explicitly demonstrated a failing test scenario. The judges felt that this demo was bland, and did not have any excitement, where previously they were too excited and distracted by my demo.
I will finish posting these two videos from the finals in the coming day or two. I’ve been a bit distracted since coming home.
Unfortunately, I did not place in the finals, and David Giard was named the ‘Speaker Idol’ David is a great speaker, and I’m happy for him. I found it a bit odd that there was no ceremonial ‘green shirt’ to bestow on him as a ‘prize’ for winning. Ah well…
My mission was achieved, I attended a phenomenal Tech Ed. I got myself a good amount of press based on my appearance at Speaker Idol. I met and spoke with a number of Microsoft employees, MVPs, and great community members. With a little bit of hard work, luck, and a successful QUnit-Metro project over the next 2-3 months and I think I have a shot at an MVP award.
We’ll see what happens.
Me with the Speaker Idol and DotNetRocks hosts: Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin. Our paths WILL cross again 😉