No clever tag line today, just wanted to throw together some random impressions and “lessons learned” (or rather just “notes taken”) from presenting at the ASUG NC/SC Chapter meeting on October 4th of (gasp!) 2013. As we’re approaching the next meeting date on February 27th (registration opens soon), it seems most appropriate to dust off this blog that remained unpublished due to the TechEd rush that somehow flowed into the holiday season.
First of all – big thank you goes to the good folks at Pure Fishing in Columbia, SC for hosting the meeting and providing us with great facilities. Having two separate and very well equipped conference rooms allowed for several “breakout” sessions to run at the same time. Let’s face it – no matter how good the presenter is, it can be just as boring (and simply inefficient) for the ABAPers to sit through a GRC session as for the business users to watch the latest ABAP Debugger features, for example. (It is certainly possible that both subjects could be of great interest to someone, but you get the point.)
Now that niceties are taken care of – here we go.
Do ask questions
I honestly do not understand why so few people are asking questions at these events. If you are afraid to look silly or think your question might not be worth asking, I have news for you: never, ever I’ve seen or heard of any presenter going like: “Ha-ha, what a stupid question! Everyone, just look at this dumbass! Ha-ha!”. Not going to happen. On a contrary, saying “Questions?” and hearing crickets is probably the worst disappointment for a presenter. If you’re not asking questions because you have no interest in any of the presentations – well, ahem, then maybe just don’t attend the meeting and let the people who’re genuinely interested win an iPad. (Not sure if it’s the message that ASUG organizers would want me to convey, but hey, it’s my blog!)
Know the stuff you are presenting
I know firsthand how much preparation goes into even a short presentation and that it could be challenging to speak in front of diverse audience where good half might be totally not interested to hear what you’re saying (see above). So it feels almost immoral to criticize a fellow presenter, but I have to say something because everyone was really looking forward to this one and was greatly disappointed. Considering that SAP HANA is a “hot” product, it’s simply mind boggling that we drove 3.5 hours just to watch a YouTube clip and be shown some promotional materials (“10x better! 20x faster! it’s over 9000!”) by a person who could not answer a single question and never followed up with the promised emails, by the way.
Be mindful of other participants
This goes without saying, but still probably worth a reminder. If you’re talking to a vendor and see a line forming behind you – it’s time to exchange the business cards and wrap up the conversation. If your presentation started on time, make sure to end it on time. And keep that buffet line moving at lunch time, for cripes sake.
Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst
My presentation was about the SCN. It started late, so I had to rush through it. Then SCN web site didn’t want to come up. Then it was slow. Then I was logged off. Good thing I had the screenshots. Bad thing I didn’t prepare for the worst scenario – having both no time and no live SCN site. So probably it’s a good idea to also have a “super-condensed” version prepared for the worst case scenario.
SAP Mentor brand needs some PR. Badly.
Some of my post-conference conversations went approximately as follows:
– So you are an SAP Mentor?
– Are you with SAP?
– But you’re an SAP Mentor?
– So… err… What is it that you do?
– Well, uhm… [slowly moving towards exit] We have shirts and we… uhm… mentor… uhm… people…
I am a bad, bad Mentor…
Do volunteer to present at your local SAP user group meeting
Naturally, there will always be presentations by the event sponsors and vendors, but I believe that most participants would love to hear more from other SAP customers, just like themselves. Trust me – it doesn’t have to be something extremely elaborate. Several years ago there was an online SAP event with the folks of Thomas Jung’s caliber presenting and it’s not like other stuff wasn’t interesting, but the best thing that I got from there and remember and use to this day was the /nex trick. Best. Thing. Ever.
So dig really deep in your own bag of tricks and don’t be afraid to show them off at your next SAP group meeting. If you have any SAP experience to share – good or bad – you won’t find more sympathetic ears than at those meetings. And if you’re afraid of public speaking – well, just declare a National Face Your Fear Day.
Say ‘thank you’ anyway
There is the whole bunch of people working behind the scenes on these events, so even if you almost doze off during the presentations, didn’t care for grilled chicken, didn’t sign any new clients and didn’t win even a mug – say ‘thank you’ to everyone who made this experience possible for you.