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I’ve presented at many ASUG conferences about technical topics, ranging from tuning, to Unicode, to upgrades.  When ASUG volunteers manage session tracks, we work with speakers to make sure their materials meet general best practices, as well as staying away from being product pitches.  We want to make sure the audience has a good experience.

This year is only the second time I’ve presented officially at SAP TechEd, though I have done meet-the-expert and led Community day sessions before.  The first time I put together a presentation, it was changed at nearly the last minute by someone in SAP.  As I’m not an SAP employee, but a guest speaker, as it were. I would have expected to be informed of changes to my content.  I wasn’t, and only a diligent review discovered German text had accidentally been put in place of English text in my slides.  It was a minor typo, but I much prefer that mistakes in my content be my mistakes, not added by someone else.

And please don’t get me started on product naming standards (except within the confines of BITI HQ).

ASUG volunteers review material for our annual conference, then contact speakers asking for them to update slides, increasing resolution of screen shots, cutting down on wordiness and similar “PowerPoint 101” tips.  We’ve also hosted webcasts on how to prepare for building slide decks, and best practices in presentation style. 

This year, I missed the chance to validate edits to my content.  I’m not sure why, but am assuming that the pressures of collecting everyone’s slides led to skipping the crucial feedback loop to speakers.  I guess the changes made by an anonymous editor are already being burned onto thousands of USB sticks.  It’s a sinking feeling for an author to discover you’ve been edited after the fact.

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6 Comments

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  1. Jon Reed
    It is always disheartening for a content creator when short cuts are taken around an editing process. Hopefully that feedback loop can be improved in the future. In fact just today I had a similar experience – a supposed business partner lifted a major chunk of content without proper attribution. They probably thought they were doing the right thing, but the situation had one thing in common with yours: they didn’t bother to check.

    I don’t think the excuse that “we’re too busy leading up to the show” works (note: not assuming this has been offered up as an excuse in your case, but I’m sure in my case the person just felt too busy to call or email me). We’re all busy and deadline-hounded, and that’s never going to change. We have to take the time to honor those who create valuable content and presentations with a thoughtful editing/consultation process.

    – Jon

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  2. Nathan Genez
    I really think that’s unacceptable.  I’m a frequent speaker at ASUG and other conferences and take responsibility in my work (as I’m sure you do).  Outside of editing product names (which change too often these days) I don’t see how changes can be justified.  If someone wants to edit your work they should just present the material themselves.
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  3. Christina Miller
    Hello Jim,

    Thanks for your comments.  We do have a review process in place for the sessions to go through a content review and a graphic check, which is why the presentations are due 7 weeks before the event.  During the content review, it there are  any major issues the Track Owners contact the speakers to make changes.  If there are not issues, the presentation is sent to graphic check.  During the graphic check, the presentation team reviews the PowerPoints to ensure that the template is used correctly.  They look for issues such as screenshots covering up the title portion of the slide or the footer.  They check to ensure the approved fonts are used as well. 

    On September 24, we sent all the speakers an email asking them to check daily on their speaker site for their final approved presentations, since the final presentations as they came out of review were being posted to the speaker sites.  It was at this point if you found any major issues with your presentation that you could have contacted me with your concerns.

    I have gone through the reviewed presentation and the original presentation you submitted line by line to see what the changes were.  All of the changes that were done were part of the graphic check to ensure that your presentation was using the template correctly.  The actual content of your presentation was not changed. 

    If you had emailed me once the approved presentation was posted to your speaker site that you had concerns about your presentation that had gone through review, I would have been able to find a solution to get your presentation formatted in way that worked for you and the graphic check team. However, PDFs have now been published and USB drives have been sent into production, so unfortunately it is too late to make changes. 

    For the future, if you have concerns about your presentation, I recommend that you contact me directly as soon as you discover the issue so we can work on a solution. 

    Regards,

    Christina

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  4. Jim Cameron
    I have done presentations for WIS PUBS and like ASUG, they have an editor assigned to each speaker to give feedback and request changes to presentations.

    I am sure that SAP being so good at process improvement will correct this for next time.

    –jim

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  5. Kenneth Moore
    Maybe it is a cultural thing.  Are the editors from a different country than you?  What is acceptable in one country may not fly in another.

    All in all, SAP TechEd does a “swell” job as is seen in the success of the conferences.  ASUG conferences, from my experience, are not on par with the TechEd confs.

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    1. Nathan Genez
      True but there is a huge difference in resource involvement and committment between a vendor conference and a user-based one.  While the material from TechEd and SAPphire are high quality they aren’t very solution oriented or pragmatic in my opinion.  Just lots of massive images crammed on a slide that are difficult to interpret.
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