Devs 4 Devs

I was at the Devs4Devs event today.  It’s one of those events that really is a great change to the norm in local developer events.  Having a time limit of 20-30 minutes per talk is an effective way to make the speakers focus and get through the meat of a topic.

In my experience it seems to be used for two main purposes:
1. Training new talented speakers
2. Sharing knowledge

On both of those fronts I think it’s highly successful.  It seemed like today the “new” speakers were first, followed by the more seasoned guys which gave a nice opportunity to see what skills the more “seasoned” guys had that the “newer” guys didn’t.  My list would be:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Let people know where you’re taking them on the talk (think “agenda”, but less formal)
  3. Slides – Don’t use too many slides, Less is more (one word and a picture is better than 40 words on a slide), use animations sparingly (moving at pace requires focus on what you’re saying, not your slide)
  4. Demos – don’t type your own code (either copy/paste, use snippets, or comment out the code), practice, practice practice (know your code), explain enough but not too much (remember the audience probably isn’t as great as you are at your topic)
  5. Engage the audience – find questions to ask (not too many), make the demo’s have an aspect of realism (how will this technology/idea/topic make their life easier – don’t just demo it, say it explicitly), offer to give the source you demoed to people on a USB stick or put it on a website before the talk and hand out the URL.
  6. Leave your contact details, point people to online resources that helped you learn. (Demo’s and talks are all fine and well, but when your audience gets back to their PC they’ll have forgotten 3/4 of what you’ve said – hopefully they’ll remember one of the resources you pointed them to)

The talks that left the biggest impression on me were probably the MVVM Pattern talk and the Sketch Flow talk. (VS 2010 was great, and has inspired me to use the product, but the others inspired me to go out and create something)

Thanks to all the speakers for some great topics and to Microsoft for hosting the event.  I’m looking forward to the next one.