Tag Archives: speakeridol

My Tech Ed NA 2012 Speaker Idol wrap-up

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.

My presentation introduced a unit testing framework for JavaScript Metro applications in Windows 8.  I was demonstrating code in a new operating system, built with a new development tool, with a new open-source project that I announced on stage.  Yea.. content doesn’t get any fresher than THAT.

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  😉