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Well this is my first Teched Blog!  I’ve been so busy.  It’s been so much fun!  BUT I’ll save that for a different blog.  This one is about presenting, speaking and failure.

Crazy – that was crazy to do – but a new challenge!  One that got the better of me this time!

Have you ever tried to demo something LIVE while speaking.  Tried is a key word in that sentence.   I thought I could.   Not a good thought.  How insane could I be?  

First session at Teched

So my first session where I presented, MMMMMMmmmmm….  Well – the best I can say is I failed miserably.  Really?  Yes.  There were some polite people that said how great it was!  Really?  They were very nice.  I however, am a realist sometimes.  Rarely – but sometimes.  I know / knew that I could mark that session as a failure.  I heard an interesting culture differences.  I heard that people “from the states” are polite like that.  Always saying how good you did.  People from Germany are honest.  So they will tell you what they think!  Interesting.  I haven’t ever thought about that.

Learning from failure?  Really!

So  “You learn from Failure”, I think that’s the saying.  Well, what did I learn?  NOTHING.  OK I did learn some things really:

  • Humliation is humbling.  
  • A great deal of respect from those crazy people that do a live demo!
  • How to go back to the first time I ever spoke.  You know, hands shaking.
  • The more mistakes I made the more badly my hands shook.  The more mistakes I made.  So I learned how to keep going when I was rattled.  Sort of.  Kind of.  Not really.  I continued but badly.
  • That I need to be more forgiving of the people that stumble when presenting.  (I already was, but even more)

OK – so I didn’t learn everything positive.  So the day started out VERY badly.  Hey I had 2 fun expert sessions!  The day continued in that positive way.

If you read any of my other blogs, you know I think it is a great idea to present.  If you decide to present, know I’ll be one of those people clapping for you – no matter how you do.  I may not tell you how “great you did”.  You know if you did great or not!

Second Chance

Now I was one of those “LUCKY” people who got a second chance.  I’m 100 precent sure the people who showed up hadn’t spoken to their friends.  Otherwise no one would have come.

Was a nervous the second time?  Oh yeah!  So did I try a “Live” demo?  What do you think?  Do you think I’m crazy?  Well maybe you do.  But I didn’t do a live demo.  The session went well.  There was a lot of interaction with the people in the crowd.  Awesome!  

So was it my best presentation?  No of course not.  I had to use slides.  But it wasn’t my worse.  My worse was yesterday, Wednesday.  And I will never forget it?  I will still present.  So I guess in a way I am crazy!.  Live demo?  Sure, I’ll try it again, but I will have a script ready in my back pocket in case I’m having problems.  Also if possible, I’ll grab a co-worker to help with the demo!

So I guess I did learn some things.  However, I could have done without these interesting lessons.

More coming from Teched LV

Standby for some better blogs about what is going on at Teched LV.  There have been great sessions (really).  There have been some great events.  Innojam, Design thinking, the lectures I went to, and the best – hands on!

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  1. Former Member
    …in your expert networking session, with a lot of people listening, looking very interested.

    Looks to me like you had people engaged and focused…you are so much better than you think.

    And being on the Inclusion workshop with you last night at #SAPTechEd was awesome. You are smart, inspiring and kind.

    1. John Astill
      Live demos are nerve wracking every time. Don’t let it hold you back. I do recall seeing you on stage at Innojam doing very well.

      Perhaps try a demo jam and you’ll never fear a live demo again ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Former Member Post author
        Stop me?   Well very little could stop me.  I love to present.  I think it will just slow me down a little.

        I saw you in passing this Teched.  I didn’t really get a chance to say “hi”.  So “Hello” to you.  I’m sure we’ll see each other again.


    2. Former Member Post author
      WOW!  Coming from you that is a HUGE compliment.  I loved working with everyone at the Inclusion workshop – design thinking.  What a cool event.  You were the one who got me started on an addiction.  Reading and writing blogs.  I love it!

      Expert Networking session.  Well, I love to do those.  I get to listen to a smaller group of people.  I get to hear different tricks than the ones I know.  Different and “diverse” ways of thinking.  I can’t even recall all the people that had great comments – Melinda I recall because she’s been to other sessions with me!  Thank you all!  Every single person who came.  Commented.  Or just listened.  

      See you again!


  2. Gregory Misiorek
    i wasn’t there so i cannot judge, but i think with experience improvement will come. you were brave enough to try doing a live demo, but i think most people wouldn’t even notice. plus, it’s more realistic when IT fails and everyone in the audience should know that.
    1. Former Member Post author
      Thank you!  Actually, it was a pretty full house – oh no!

      It was VERY realistic that’s for sure.  I think I’ll try a live demo again in a smaller group.

      Thank you for the kind comment!


  3. Martin English
    I feel for you, Michelle ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have done (solo or assisted in) several innojam / demojam style presentations, where everything has to be live, this year and similar problems have occurred at ALL of them – In each case I / we had rehearsed plenty of times, including the live demo bits, but each time we went ‘live’, things went wrong or too slow or we had connectivity issues – if you see Chris Paine before he returns form TechEd, ask him about our InnoJam presentation to the SAP Australia User Group conference – we lost the network to our server JUST as we started the presentation started %*@!#!!.
    The important thing in these situations is to communicate your knowledge and your passion for the subject, and I KNOW (from meeting you last year) you would have done that bit well !!


    PS if there’s a recording of the first session, maybe you could use the worst couple of minutes in a 2012 #scnotty  ?

    1. Former Member Post author
      I think that it would be a GREAT idea for a Snotty.  I laughed again this morning.  If it’s out there, I may add a little more to it, and edit it of course.  I won’t check for a little while longer.  I just don’t want to look at anything like that for awhile!

      Thank you for the encouragement!


  4. Tom Cenens
    Hello Michelle

    You can look at it at another angle, if everyone is scared to do a presentation or live demo than there wouldn’t be any content. I already think it’s great that you decide to step up and do something like that.I think people are more forgiving than we sometimes think they are. I want to gve presenting at TechED a shot somewhere in the future and perhaps I  will fail but doing it matters.

    Thanks for the useful tips, I’ll surely remember those before I start such an adventure.

    Kind regards


    1. Former Member Post author
      You will not FAIL!!!  I know because speaking at your first Teched event – you practice until you can do the presentation in your sleep.

      Just remember the things that I learned, and work with them.  Don’t let this discourage you at all.  I would hope that’s not what this blog does.  It simply was my frustration about not being “perfect”.  I know we never are.  I just needed a reminder.  And I got one.


  5. Kumud Singh
    Hi Michelle,

    Good to hear from your teched experience.I would say, this would make you/others reading this blog more careful for any live presentations.
    Do you have a link of your presentation?


    1. Former Member Post author
      Sure – I’ll put one out there.  I’m going to try to make a “canned” version of the demos where people can get to them.

      So stay tuned.  I looked over the presentation and the screen shots are actually too small.  I didn’t really realize that until I took the time to look at them while working off of the slides instead of doing the demo.  See another good thing learned.

      I hope someone learns from my mistake.  Bring another person to type if possible.  Have a “canned” version of your demo prior to speaking.  Those are great thougts.

      And now I know them too!


  6. Former Member
    Don’t let this set you back. Occasional failure is inevitable when you take a risk. But it’s the risk-taking that makes a presentation lively and interesting. I haven’t seen your session, so I cannot tell you “how great you did”. But I congratulate you for the courage to include a live demo and give the audience the best you got.


    PS: did many live demos (yes, I really love live demos) and it’s never smooth. Meanwhile, I am even having fun when things break, those systems always surprise me ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Former Member Post author
      Well you made me laugh on a Monday morning.  That’s great.  I’m further away from my mistakes while I read these comments.

      It is something to learn from.  I have had some great comments.  Having someone else type, I will not forget to bring a “canned” version of the demos.  Yes, I will probably try it again.  But I will remember these comments.

      A “live” demo.  Yes, I will try.  Next time I’ll try to be a little more careful with it.

      Thank you!


  7. Marilyn Pratt
    “Fail fast and early” was something I learned from Heike van Geel’s design thinking workshop during the SAPteched Wed. evening event on the value of inclusion in innovation and collaboration.
    Another really important thing I’ve learned along the way from very smart people is that despite what we, and especially we women,think of our performance, we should be mindful of how we declare ourselves to be. Admitting a failure is a good and courageous thing. But equating our outcomes with descriptors of ourselves as stupid is an important thing to avoid doing. I’ve been “corrected” on that count quite a few times in my life.  I know you Michelle.  You are a very intelligent woman.  Don’t sell yourself and us short. Own your talent, your unique POV, your courage, your ability to learn from your failures and your smarts.  So please avoid calling yourself stupid.  It is demeaning to us all.  We all benefit from the smart analysis of your experience and your sharing them.
    1. Former Member Post author
      “Stupid”, you are right.  There are many other adjectives I could have used.  At the time I wrote this blog – I felt – and Yes I have feelings and celebrate them.  I felt less than I normally am.

      Stupid?  I guess it means something different to each person.  Stupid can mean asking something that you think everyone else knows.  A “stupid” question.  There is no such thing.  A “stupid” question is a question that no one asks.

      “Stupid” in this context.  It was simply the way I felt.   I should not have relied on “live” presentations.  I knew that.  I had been to different webinars that told me that.  So at that moment in time I felt “stupid”.  “Stupid” to me meant that I had done something that I “knew”, but I had forgotten about.

      So “stupid”.  I will change that in the blog.  Those of you that read these comments will think, what there isn’t a “stupid” in there.  It will be more of what I “felt” stupid was.  A completely personal feeling.  Maybe thought of in a different way.

      Descriptions of myself.  Ahhhh… – but aren’t we the hardest on ourselves?

      Great comment!


  8. Bala Prabahar
    We had an opportunity to discuss your presentation on Wednesday. It is just remarkable that you not only had courage to discuss on Wednesday but also blogged about it. Kudos to you Michelle.

    Your desire/intention to demo your presentation was noble, great, grand, remarkable, aristocratic and upper-class. Stupid? Absolutely not.

    As you know, I’ve just started taking baby steps towards becoming a speaker. I’ve not failed yet as a speaker. I know I’ll not fail unless I come out and try something new. TechEd ’11 ‘liberated’ me and am ready to fail, fail often. I’ve several great thoughts about Teched ’11 and will be blogging about them next few days/weeks.

    Best regards,

    1. Former Member Post author
      Blog away!  Don’t let my failure influence you even a little!

      I will try to take all the data that was given to me, and work on a better presentation.  No, it won’t stop me.  But let me tell you it will slow me down on “live” demos.

      Courage to blog about it?  Not really the people who went knew what I had done.   I wanted to share, mainly because I didn’t want my difficulties / failure to influence people in a negative way! 

      A nice lady – I can’t remember names – came up to me after the presentation.  She told me she presents often.  And gave me some great tips!  (Go ahead and try real examples, but have someone else typing.  Ah that would have really helped.)  Remember at least one person will relate to you.  I found one.  She was honest and to the point and gave me some great ideas.

      Fail?  I hope no one does.  Fail?  I think some people will.  But don’t let it get you down.  Feel free to send me an e-mail.  I’ll be sympathetic.  And I certainly understand.

      Courage?  No not really.  I’m just honest.  I blogged because I wanted people to know we all make mistakes.  And we all don’t want YOU – “you” as in anyone presenting – to make a mistake.  And there are amazing people out there.  Giving you the support you need to go forward.  Thank goodness Wednesday went well – not great but well.  Otherwise I would think twice about presenting. 

      “Live” demos?  Only if I have the “canned” version (pre-recorded version) to go to, if I start making mistakes.

      And now!  Now?  I’ve wrote a book again.

      Thanks for commenting!  It was great seeing you in LV.


    1. Former Member Post author
      You are more than welcome!  Wow – someone read my blog and liked it.  You are more than welcome.  I have spoken in front of people several times.  Thank Goodness.  If this were my first time…  Well let’s just say doing it again would really have been hard.

      Practicing.  Even if I’m VERY sick I will practice.  Lesson learned.

      No one is perfect.  Live demos again?  I doubt it.  I will use “canned” demos recorded prior to the presentation.   That way – I know they will work.  As to my speaking skills that day.  Let’s just say I get flustered easily.

      Remember your audience is all about listening to you.  I forgot that ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hope to see you presenting!


  9. Former Member
    I do not cater to the fail fast school of thought. Some of you might have seen my rant here Walking the talk on “fail fast”

    We all need to start somewhere – and we have a lot of smaller stages to practice, before we try in front of the big audience. It is up to us to make use of it and practice.

    And we should also learn to enjoy the moment – every time we do something live, there is a risk it will fail. But if you take it easy, you will be relaxed enough to try to solve it in front of the audience. Advantage of doing it at Teched is that your audience is a bunch of people who can empathize with you – developers who know that “it is only software, and it can fail”.

    Keep trying Michelle – and I bet you will do just fine.

    1. Tammy Powlas
      This is very good advice.  Before I started speaking at these events, I had no confidence and thought I would never do it.

      Then I read that actor Matthew Broderick (a great actor) enjoys rehearsing the most.  I decided I would practice my presentation, making sure I enjoyed practicing the most.  Then the actual presentation is the icing on the cake.

      Enjoy the moment is right!

    2. Former Member Post author
      Practice – I agree.  I needed lots more practice.  MMmmmm – staying calm in front of a large audience.  That I have to practice!  Great advise.

      I didn’t really enjoy that moment.  But the next presentation.  YES!  I did enjoy it.  The comments were wonderfull.

      Thank you for the nice comment – and very true,


    3. Bala Prabahar

      You’re making a great point. I mentioned in my response I’m ready to fail, fail often. I guess I need to offer clarification.

      When I say “I’m ready to fail, fail often”, I don’t mean my goal is to fail and want to set a record in accomplishing failures. Rather that kind of attitude would give me freedom to think and plan positively to successfully execute the task/plan/activity. Failure(s) wouldn’t make me feel good.

      As you said, if I take it easy, I’ll be relaxed enough to try to solve it in front of the audience.


  10. Former Member
    Public speaking can be such a challenging thing to do and when you throw in a live demo, it can be down right impossible.  So many things out of your control, and not always ways to bring the demo and session back on track! 

    I agree, I’m always the one cheering the most for speakers, since I understand what it takes to get up there and do.  The courage, the practice, the preparation, and still the willingness to accept that things might not go as planned.

    I wasn’t there to comment on how you did, but I know from previous speaking experience that we are always our own hardest critics.

    But without judgement on how your session went, with this blog and sharing your experience you’ve turned your failure into success.  So many people are so afraid of speaking they don’t even try.  And many others would run away from speaking for ever if they felt failure, but you sound ready to go again. 

    So you’ve set an example, that public speaking doesn’t always go as planned. However, it’s always possible to get up and do it again.  Sometimes it makes it easier for those who are afraid to take the risk of public speaking, to go forward and do it when they see some one who has failed and survived, get back up and do it again.

    I also want to let you know that you are not alone in having a public speech fail! I had a major fail back in grad school, when I was teaching a freshman communication class.  I was so scared, I was shaking and really could no longer communicate.  I panicked, cancelled the class and ran out.

    I went back in the next day, explained what happened and used it as an example throughout the rest of my teaching experience. 

    I found that I improve at public speaking everytime I do it. 

    So thanks for sharing your expenience.  I hope that you’ve encourage some new speakers to take the risk as well, and shown that even when speaking doesn’t go as planned it’s always possible to get up and do it again!

    1. Former Member Post author

      You and anyone reading this are more than WELCOME.  And thank you for sharing.   I did go back and speak again.  The next day if you can imagine.  I was thinking about all kinds of excuses in my head.  -Sick – I was very, very sick and had to stay in bed.  I lost my voice.  I hurt an ankle while walking to the session.  Did I use them?  Of course not.  But I did think them.  It did cheer me up a little.Michelle


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