Friday, August 22, 2008

Do I make you uncomfortable?

As a regular speaker on the ".NET circuit," I enjoy getting honest feedback from attendees. It's always fun to see what others think of your sessions and get ideas for improvement. And while I find that people generally enjoy my sessions, every now and again I get a gem like this recent feedback from my ASP.NET MVC session at Code Stock: "I found the presenter to be sort of insulting. He kept making the audience raise their hands to show who used what; if they weren't what he used then he would make a snide aside. Even though 90% of my tools were on his 'good list', I felt uncomforted for the rest of everyone. He was very opinionated and seemed to see black and white but no gray areas. The content was decent, which is why he didn't get a '1' from me. It has turned me on to a new way of doing my websites." First of all, to whoever submitted this feedback, I'm sorry for insulting you. I really have no desire to insult and if you talk to me "off stage" hopefully you'd find me more approachable. But I will admit that while on stage, I do adopt more of a "arrogant persona" that does deal in absolutes- not because I want to be arrogant, but because I find that making shocking statements tends to keep an audience involved (instead of sleeping). And for the most part, people enjoy it (or so I think). Which brings me to a reality check. If you've heard me speak before, and I've dished-out one of what are becoming my trademark "snarky" comments, did I offend or entertain? While I won't apologize for my snarky and sarcastic leanings, I also don't want to blindly offend the masses as I travel the globe speaking. I want to do it with both eyes open.


Unknown said...

Better to have made a bad impression than no impression.. Nerds are arrogant; Good nerds are even more - but the best, they keep refactoring on all aspects (not just code) and they take kindly to open criticisms and get back to the root of it all: Keep learning.. No matter how great success feels, always be humble; I think we all have to keep that in mind - all the time.. And as always: You can't make everybody happy. I wasn’t there, but thanks for sharing (that's being humble).

Anonymous said...

I have been speaking in conferences for 18 years in 42 countries. I experienced all of what you mention in your blog.
I have been to several of your sessions and I find them very well organized with very high value. They are excellent sessions!
I find the first 5 monutes of the session to be the most crucual, it is the time to bind with the audience, out them at ease, crack a joke, be one of the guys, etc...
It is amazing how they enjoy the rest of the 55 minutes after that.

Your sessions ROCK Todd!