I’m sorry to TriConf in general and, more specifically, to the 20-25 people who were in the room last Saturday when I gave a presentation that I wasn’t prepared to give, nor fully committed to.
It won’t happen again.
What did happen now has me in an internal debate over the value of expanding one’s horizons vs. playing to one’s strengths.
Here’s the Story
The title of my talk was “Devs and Designers are from Venus … Marketers are From Mars (How to Bridge the Interplanetary Miles).”
In my mind, the idea was to talk about how developers, designers and marketers often have different desires/goals/etc., how that can negatively impact projects, and how to minimize or eliminate the friction that it causes.
I failed miserably.
Even before the talk began, I knew it wasn’t my best material. I wasn’t thrilled with my content, slides, etc. I wasn’t sure that I’d be giving anyone value.
What I ended up doing was this:
- insulting designers, developers and, yes, marketers, too
- sharing trite advice that likely helped no one
- wasting about 20 minutes of everyone’s weekend
I tried to insert some humor in my presentation with some slides about how designers are all about rainbows and unicorns, how developers are all about code and creating gee-whiz web apps, and how marketers are all like used car salesmen. It wasn’t funny — it was stupid. And stereotypical. And I’m surprised no one in the audience threw something at me when I was doing those slides. I deserved it.
And then my “advice” was just lame. Really lame. I had one slide that essentially said “it’s not about you, it’s about your clients.” Duh. The TriConf crowd is plenty smart enough to know that, and I was insulting them to think otherwise.
Again, TriConf: I’m sorry.
Ugh. This one’s gonna leave a bad taste in my mouth for a while.
Where I Screwed Up
I take a lot of pride in my speaking opportunities — both in the content I share and the way I present it.
When I have a speaking commitment on my schedule, I typically start working on the presentation 3-6 weeks before it happens. That gives me plenty of time to think through everything I want to say and how I want to say it. It gives me time to tweak and tinker and improve things until it’s just right.
TriConf doesn’t work that way. 🙂
It’s an un-conference where talks/speakers aren’t decided until a few days before the sessions begin. So I didn’t know until Wednesday that I’d be giving this presentation on Saturday.
I’m not blaming TriConf for this — it’s all my fault. I put myself on the nomination list at least a couple weeks before TriConf began, volunteering to give that talk. I should’ve started working on the presentation right away, even without knowing if it would be voted in to the schedule. That’s where I screwed up.
The Internal Debate
And that’s where the internal debate comes in. I went back and forth for a while before I even put myself on the session nomination list.
I was debating myself: Should I do a presentation at TriConf and only spend a couple days prepping for it? Or should I just go to TriConf as an attendee and enjoy everyone else’s sessions?
Should I expand my horizons (by trying to give a talk without weeks of preparation)? Or should I stay in my comfort zone and not speak at all?
I obviously chose the former, and it was a colossal fail.
On the one hand, I’m able to pat myself on the back a little bit for trying to give a talk on just a couple days’ notice. But on the other hand, it drives me crazy to think how bad it was.
So, the debate continues.
Maybe next year I’ll give a talk on how to let go of your mistakes. (I’ll start prepping for that one right now.)