Elaborate on COLLABORATE

Apr 17, 2012 / By Michael Abbey

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Adjective:
Involving many carefully arranged parts or details; detailed and complicated in design and planning.
Verb:
Develop or present (a theory, policy, or system) in detail.

COLLABORATE is all about quality and content, presenters elaborating based on their specific areas(s) or expertise. The show may be elaborate, but “show” is secondary to education. A handful of tier 1 shows throughout the calendar year do just that. The primary focus is on the user community, the people who live the software from day-to-day. A few facets of technical presentations that have always fascinated me are walking away from a session:

  1. with an “I did not know you could do that!” feeling
  2. with a solution to a technical issue that has been plaguing me for some time
  3. with my understanding of a piece of technology ramped up one or more links in the chain of knowledge acquisition


Second to none? Learning from your peers. Peer knowledge transfer seeds the recipient with a suite of new ideas, often catapulting today’s audience into tomorrow’s presenters. The process is fascinating to watch. I am the new speaker mentor at COLLABORATE this year and have tried to go out of my way to make these first-time presenters feel like veterans. Communication is the key to acceptance into a new elite community. Letting this exciting group know we have them on our radar instills a sense of belonging.

I have been asked a lot of questions as a mentor and enjoyed “passing the buck” so to speak to others on the IOUG conference committee when the answers are out of my area of concentration. One of the lunch-time speakers asked “How do I get my food if I am presenting at that time?”. The solution was pointing out that the length of the lunch hour far exceeds that of this person’s presentation.  This dialogue is the heart of bringing new presenters (at COLLABORATE in particular and conferences in general) into the fold from day one. Now when I run into some people who have contacted me prior to the show, it’s almost like we have already met.

Pythian has a strong presence at these tier 1 shows, whether vendor or user-group based. I have offered to sit in on some of the presentations for these new speakers and received some feedback from people who would thrive from the opportunity. Reading, writing, and (a)rithmetic… The so-called the R’s of elementary school. These three R’s at COLLABORATE?

  1. Ralentissez (French for slow down :))-careful attention to what you say and the speed with which you deliver it
  2. Resist the temptation to introduce local idioms and colloquialisms into your live presentation
  3. Remember the scope of people attending your presentation-the level of expertise of the people in the room varies, so carefully choose what you are going to say to not alienate your audience

If you are a consumer at COLLABORATE, please find the time to work with the IOUG to improve the show. Help the user group hone the content and zero in on covering the solutions that make the most sense to the attendees. Participate in the session feedback process and conference evaluation. You are your own conference committee, and you would be surprised how much time the user groups listen (and are able to find the time to listen) to feedback.

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