I had a wonderful day at BarCampPune3 today. Infact to be honest, I was a bit skeptical about whether most of the people who said they are coming will show up? And when we reached there, I thought my skepticism was just right, there were something like 23 and a quarter campers out there. But eventually people started joining and soon we were close to 100ish.. Well a lot of us showed up well after 10am the official starting point but eventually I guess, we were a couple of 100 or so, not bad. Barcamping to me was certainly new, but I kind of liked the geekish atmosphere there... (Did he mean 'Geeks', when he said 'Meeks shall inherit the earth?' hahan:-) ).
Something most interesting that I learnt by doing it.. Talking to an audience of 40-50 odd people with sort of diverse backgrounds. There were a few obvious pitfalls, which pilot pointed out. I had talked in front of 20 odd people before, and to be honest I felt pretty confident that I'd do a fine job, but from pilot's remarks, it appears it was kind of a mess. Neverthless important lessons learnt. So let me go over them one by one.
0. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. : What it includes? Atleast give a mock presentation to 2-3 people, plan your talk, your slides and DO NOT DO this at 1AM @ the midnight day before. Very very important.
0.5 Know your Audience: The best way to do this is by asking a couple of quick questions and checking out how much people know about the stuff you are going to talk. This is going to come in handy subsequently.
1. Set the expectations Right: It is very important to do so, when there is a sufficient amount of diversity, and it is obvious that you are not goint to please everyone, but still set their expectations right. Some ways to do this is go over an Overview of your presentations and mention briefly what you are going to cover.
2. Take a brief pause and plan for improvisations: Depending upon responses in 0.5 and 1.0 above, you've to plan a few improvisations. Of course the homework must be done for that. In general the improvisations will include, which topics to stress upon and pay attention to and which topics (slides) to skip. This also implies that you have the flow of slides well in your time.
4. Start presenting: Entertain questions but only at Logical milestones (and not after every slide..)
5. Whenever someone ask questions - Make it a point to "REPEAT the QUESTION", so that the audience knows what the question was and what your answer was refering to.. And answer to question should not look like a conversation bet you and the person from the audience who asked the question.
6. Whenever you've code snippets to explain stuff. They should be Pasted in the presentations. Doing (ALT-TAB) looks Ugly. Often relevant comments should also be included.
7. If you have a demo or something, plan it at the end or at the beginning, No ALT-TABs PLEASE.
One would obviously notice that I had missed on almost all the points above. Also, do not simply look at contents, while watching some interesting Google Videos, but look at How much the person is in Control of situation while presenting. The great skills of presentations lie in "Being in control"
Besides that, Mr Murphy was in control of procedeeings when needed and almost at will, when the Sleek Flat Screen Samsung Monitor Din't like my ubuntu desktop. ("मर्फ्यै तस्मै नमः||", a new phrase which I have coined. Will write in details about it subsquently) So much for the presentation. Coming back to the event... There were a couple of interesting talks that I attended, one of specific mention was about "Pros and cons of setting up your company in India vis-a-vis other options like US, UK or Singapore." This is not the exact title. But a very important point that came out of that, it probably makes sense to register a company in US than in India, if you are doing a startup.
We did a bit of advertising for paahijen as well. :-) It seems that a lot of people had actually seen what we were doing and thankfully none of them said "You Suck!" or were just being nice :-) ... (There was a bit of a goofup in the T we prepared on the 11th hour, which Akshay, noticed but guess not others! :-)
In all certainly a very enjoyable, eventful day! Look forward to more such things in the coming times....
Just before I conclude, a final reminder for me. "Do not assume people know the language you speak". eg. There was this journalist from the mint, namitha, who asked me... Where were you guys working before.. I told we were working at PANTA systems.. A High Performence Computing company.. To me "High Performance Computing" is as much a common word as say a "car", but she was like what does that mean? And I have seen this expressions a few times from others as well. The best answer I find for this is our company makes "Supercomputers like CDAC." Actually that sounds a bit sexy as well :-)