My Failure, Success and Great Experience at Oracle OpenWorld 2011
Oct 18, 2011 / By Yury Velikanov
A bit more than a week passed since most of us who been part of the OpenWorld are back from San Francisco. It is about time to start sharing stories on how it went for each of us. I must admit that it happened to be a very stressful OpenWorld for me personally. I am recovering from it slowly. On the positive side I met so many great people, discovered how supportive people are and how great is to be a part of the Pythian Team!
This was my second OpenWorld. My very first one was 10 years ago. This year I returned to San Francisco to present my experience working/implementing Oracle technology. This blog post is the very first blog post about Oracle OpenWorld 2011. I am writing about my most important personal experience bellow. I am planning to write more posts on Pythian & OTN Bloggers event, My takeaway on Fusion Applications, Oak Table dinner and may be something else…
Let’s talk about how my 2 presentations went at Oracle OpenWorld 2011.
Challenging delivery of “AWR Performance data mining” presentation
My first talk on Tuesday (October 4) was related to AWR (Session ID: 05581, 15:30). From my personal point of view I failed miserably to deliver that presentation. I really grateful to those people who gave me a positive feedback about the presentation and to those who came to ask questions right after the presentation. However I would like to ask for forgiveness from the rest of people who came to the presentation. Looking back I think I got sick on the stage because of adrenaline levels that ran over the roof in my body.
I must mention that I gave the presentation for several times before I delivered it at the OpenWorld and any single time I didn’t have problems close to the problems I had this time (you can find one of the successful presentations feedback here). Therefore I was quite comfortable before it all started and I got on stage.
It all started well. Just before the beginning I chatted with audience about social media and my presents there, clarified how many people in the room came from outside of US (~10%) and how many were there from Australia (strangely enough I was the only one) etc.
However on the second slide something switched inside of me and my talk stream stopped. My heart was beating way too often and I literally lost all my words and thoughts on what should I being talking about. It was so embarrassing. I struggled to come with each next word. I even started to read from my own slides at some point in time. My brain literally refused to work. Somehow I made my way to the end of presentation. Many people left the room and I don’t blame them for that (most probably I would have done the same).
I can’t blame anyone for the failure but myself. However it looks like there have been a few factors why my brain got that blackout period. Looking back I would mention the following things that contributed to the adrenaline level explosion I experienced:
- The room got packed. And this was a very big room (at least 300 seats). It was one of the biggest rooms I have presented. I would prefer a bit smaller crowd for my very first OpenWorld presentation
- There had been technical issues with connecting my Laptop to the projector. The technician spent a lot of time trying to get it connected and I ended up presenting on other (conference) laptop with the slide “clickering” device I was unfamiliar with
- Nobody but Graham Wood (Oracle architect of AWR, ASH, and ADDM) came to the presentation just few minutes before it started
- I felt uncomfortable with the way screen, stage, laptop were located. The problem was that I didn’t see the screen from the stage I should present from. I used to use a laser pointer to highlight some areas of my slides. This time I didn’t have this option. I recognized that at the time I started to present (and I wasn’t ready for it). The other problem was the microphone setup limited my ability to move on the stage. I typically make a few steps back and forth while presenting. This option was switched off for me that day. I had a few discussions with some more experienced presenters and they found the setup challenging as well.
I believe all those things together played a very bad joke on me. Once again there are no excuses for myself and I am taking full responsibility for the failed delivery that day. If this performance will stop/slowdown my public presenter career let it be. However I think I should share my experience with you to give you a chance to learn from my mistakes and try to avoid them.
I think I learned the lesson the hard way (in fact the very hard way). As for now I am taking some actions including the following to make my best effort at avoiding the same happening ever again:
- I am planning to work on my English (third language I am learning) harder. My plan is to start reading literature more and increase my vocabulary. This will give me more flexibility in expressing thoughts without thinking/looking for a next word to say at very important moments in my career. BTW: I would appreciate any suggestions from your side on what fiction book I would start with :)
- I am joining Toastmasters later on this year. I have been speaking publicly since 2005. However I think there are still things to improve and work on. Let see how it will go.
- No matter how well I know the presentation I will dedicate a significant amount of time for a rehearsal a day before the presentation.
- I will make a list of things that helps me present well. Each time I am presenting I will explorer the setup (screen, projector, microphone, stage etc.) in advance and think/prepare to the factors that would limit my well presenting habits.
Think about the actions I just mentioned. Some of them may help you avoid the problems I faced, next time you present.
Great delivery “Oracle Database 11g SCAN: Sharing a Successful Implementation Experience” presentation
You can’t imagine how devastated and upset I was the evening after AWR presentation. I wanted to hide and disappear from the planet. However the next challenge was, I had to deliver my second OpenWorld presentation on Thursday (October 6 15:00, Session ID: 05561).
And you know what?! I delivered it! :) Despite of the previous failure and presentation of Markus Michalewicz (Oracle Senior Principal Product Manager Oracle Real Application Clusters) in the room the presentation went very well. I will leave Markus and other folks to decide on the content (I am really looking forward to hearing any feedback) but I was happy with the performance (I am very critical of myself typically).
In spite of the fact that it was the very last presentation in the OpenWorld schedule, the presentation was well attended (~100 people showed up). I started to chat with people 10 minutes before the presentation’s beginning. Todd Carlson from World Wide Technology made great 10 minutes business introduction and I covered the rest. We had a good Q&A session after the presentation and very few people left the presentation before it finished. I would say it was kind of comeback for me. I got part of my confidence back as a presenter. I can’t talk about a full recovery at this stage. However it was a great personal achievement having in mind all what happened just few days before.
Appreciations for the support
I would like to say a HUGE thanks to all people who helped me to overcome the crisis and comeback with the good SCAN presentation.
- First of all to the Pythian team who didn’t leave me alone and supported all way through. Just mentioning one thing that they did for me from the very long list: they got me out from my hotel room Tuesday night, where I was hiding from the rest of the world for the Pythian’s Exadata Titan Award ceremony. Thank you folks (Vanessa Simmons, !Gwen Shapira!, Michael Abbey, Paul Vallee, Alex Gorbachev, Andy Klock, Marc Fielding, Shervin Sheidaei, Keith Millar, Ted Maslach, Todd Bunch)! It is my great pleasure to work with you!
- Tim Gorman, Cary Millsap, !Arjen Visser!, Bjoern Rost , and others who listened to me and gave me a bit of advice during the Pythian and OTN organized bloggers meetup at Oracle OpenWolrd 2011 (Photos from the event, Blog post ) just before my second presentation.
- Tweeter community for their great support: @saldais, @jantup, @goryunov, @asdaraujo, @orcldoug, @gokhanatil, @fuadar, @munkyben, @dbvisitmike, @DBAKevlar, …
- All folks who I just forgot to mention
PS Comeback 2: Presenting “AWR Performance data mining” at AUSOUG 20:20 Foresight Conference
There is a AUSOUG 20:20 Foresight Conference in Perth on November 3 and 4.
I am presenting “AWR Performance data mining” paper there. I hope that Graham Wood who is going to be part of the conference will be gracious enough and give me a second chance to present the paper in front of him.
I will do everything possible to give my best delivery, ever!
Thank you for reading,
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