20 February 2023

Presentation, Code

Also Known As: Talk; Presentation

Problem: Your product/service is out, but adoption is low, and part of the problem seems to be that developers don't quite know how to use it or get started with it.

Context: Complex information, particularly abstract and conceptual information, is often hard to communicate in a purely "visible" spectrum (a la writing). For whatever reason, humans still seem to learn and understand more effectively when multiple communication channels are engaged simultaneously--that is to say, when they are shown things at the same time they are told things (so long as those things are supporting each other).

Perhaps there are conceptual parts to what the product/service does that are confusing, or the product/service has a large "surface area" of material that is overwhelming. There may be nuances to certain features that aren't visible at first, or advanced features that require some foundational understanding before being able to be used effectively.

Solution: Deliver a technical presentation at a third-party conference (that is, run by a group or company that isn't your own). It can be in a variety of different forms, ranging from an "all-code, no-slides" presentation in which you have the outline memorized in your head and you code-on-the-fly interactively with the audience, to an "all-slides, no-code" presentation in which you talk about concepts and ideas that would be tricky to pull off "on the fly". Most "breakout" presentations are somewhere in the middle, depending on the topic, the presenter, and (sometimes) the culture of the event.

Most conference breakout sessions are just under an hour in length; anything less than 45 minutes is better categorized as a "lightning talk" (see Variants).

Consequences: (Longer-term planning; submission to CfPs, which come 3-9 months before the event.)

Conference sessions come with financial and logistical requirements for the speakers, travel planning being the biggest of the lot. While many DevRel teams handle these themselves, consider making it easier for them to do so: allow them to work with a travel agency (a human one, not an online one) to make it easier to book travel (and get them home in the event of a travel disruption), and consider working with Accounting to streamline and expedite the process of reimbursement; although it is tempting to tell the team "just float it on your credit card", that may not be feasible and/or financially disadvantageous to the team.

Conference sessions often pair well with conference Sponsorship, including the purchase of Booth space and copious amounts of Swag. If you have more than one session, or more than one of your team is speaking at the same event, consider bringing a Pit Crew and have them visibly present in each of your company's talks, not to act as a cheering section, but to be available for qustions that the audience might have but aren't willing to wait very long to ask. In these situations, consider putting somebody in charge of logistics and event coordination for all of those committed to the event (including Pit Crew), as doing the event as a team can be a strong emotionally-bonding experience to do things as a group (share the same flights, be at the same hotel, coordinate dinners and evening activities, and so on).


Tags: devrel   patterns