More recently, the first online software testing conference in my life has ended. It was held from May 21 to May 23, its organizers were from Ukraine, participants were from all over the world, and the title of the conference was “Testing Stage 2020”. In fact, the conference was supposed to be held at the end of March, but, as everyone already knows, Ukraine as well as the whole world suffered from the COVID-19. But the organizers weren’t confused, and already in April, a conference was being prepared in a new format (respect to the organizers).
My impressions of the conference should be divided into two blocks. As a listener and as a speaker.
As the listener
It was rather strange for me, as a listener, to watch the conference. Personally, nowadays I usually fast-forward reports while watching them due to unnecessary and uninteresting moments (of course, there may be some exceptions). In that case, I was faced with a situation that while watching performances on YouTube, there was no way to rewind them but I had no desire to waste my time on different “boring stuff “. In general, I had to distract myself by something else and come back when the speaker began to tell the more interesting part for me. The chat rooms were very convenient, 3 open streams made it possible to look at all the reports in a couple of minutes (the organizers did their best). But the same advertisement that showed up every 45 minutes, of course, was terribly «killing» me. Especially the last part of the ad unit with the speech of the next consultant/coach/trainer, whose words were repeated several times. I believe, you understand what I mean. Surely, I understand that the organizers did not have much choice and that it was necessary to somehow fill the break in the online format. Therefore, let’s agree that this moment needs to be thought out again.
As the speaker
I must admit that until now, I always refused to speak in an online/web format. I do like the interaction with the audience and my reports are based on the principle of discussion, not a one-sided monologue. But in this situation, you just have to “broadcast” for 40 minutes into the camera without the reaction of the audience. I expected everything to be awful, but in reality, it was not that bad. Thanks again to the organizers. Slack chat saved everyone. The principles of building a good effective performance were used and everything seemed to go quite successfully. In the same chat room, viewers immediately shared their impressions. And, moreover, the organizers started sending other speakers to me for advice. Good signs that everything went well.
About my talk
My talk was on the next topic – “Mind Maps is a tool against panic in testing large features”, it was about using Mindmap approaches and tools in an Agile development environment. Effectively analyzing and working with information is critically important, and mind maps are quite useful for these tasks.
Nevertheless, I will write another post about that. And I even gonna prepare a workshop.
Tips for online speakers
And now, I would like to share my experience and advice with all the future online speakers.
Preparation for the talk.
- Check all your tools and equipment – tools that the organizers provided me with: video recording, presentation control
- Clothing – no stripes and small cubes as far as all these can strobe on the screen.
- The lighting in the room – the light must be directed on you, not on the camera.
- Camera – check the mode, turn off the mirror.
- Camera direction – directly to your face, not aside or down.
- Comfortable clothes and a chair – do not forget you will have to sit for at least 40 minutes.
- Charge your computer/laptop – be sure to check that the laptop/tablet is charged and connected to the network.
- Remove all the unnecessary things from the desktop on your computer – just close everything, do not be distracted during the presentation or so.
- Pay attention to your background – the background behind you can be distracting. Remove everything unnecessary, find a white wall or a black curtain.
- Water – do not forget that you will definitely feel thirsty when you talk a lot.
- Air conditioning – if you live in a hot country, do not forget to make the air in the room colder. We are all a little nervous and worried during the talk, and it gets pretty heated up.
Conducting the talk, etc.
- Communication – be sure to communicate with the viewer – decide how to use the infrastructure of the organizers to the maximum.
- Whip up the audience – start communicating and “warming up” the audience before your presentation begins. Say hello to everyone or ask what they had for lunch.
- Entertain – think up how to involve your viewers – quiz, giveaway – allocate some time for this during your presentation.
- You are being watched – don’t forget that you are being constantly watched – know where the borders of your camera are. As well as on the ordinary stage performance. If you feel it itching somewhere below the waist -be patient.
Completion of the talk, etc.
- Be attentive to the instructions of the organizers. The presentation did not end until the organizers inform you about it. Do not forget about this fact. The camera may continue working, so make sure it isn’t.
- Questions and Answers. Continue answering questions after the report. In real life, at the exit from the hall, listeners would be waiting for you with questions. They only have an online chat now. Do not forget about it.
It is very important to remember that although this is an online talk, it is still “talk”. All requirements and practices, rules for a successful report still work here. It is essential to use your voice correctly, compose your presentation perfectly, and «wrap» your report into an interesting story. And that’s when luck will smile at you. And even online, you are able to remain helpful to your viewers.
And what is most important, do not forget to enjoy and derive pleasure from the whole process. Actually, it’s possible even online!
Good luck to everyone and nevertheless, see you offline.