Once upon a time this DevSum conference happened in Stockholm. It’s annual thing and this year it was exactly 21-23 of May. I didn’t recognize it much previously, because you know… I’m not Swedish, but it was supposed to be a big deal and as a person who was there month ago, I can tell you it really is. First heard about it months before from Michał, who was invited there with Rafał to perform a talk about passion. But I didn’t even suspected then to also get invited to the event. So… First of all I need to give my thanks to Tibi. He’s one of the organizers and the reason I was at the conference. How come? We talked a little bit during CraftConf and he offered to try to get me a slot, if one of the speakers – Greg Young or Ben Hall don’t have a chance to perform. Well… I like to joke now, that because Greg wasn’t available, I was the second choice Hence – this blog post. You’ll find here some information about the event itself and sessions. But first things first…
First evening there was speakers dinner planned. Of course plenty of people had met before it happened. Me and Jake landed around 4 pm, got to our hotel and headed straight to this beforeparty. While drinking delicious flowers flavored Swedish beer, I’ve met tons of people. This all almost didn’t happen, because during the actual dinner, I was annexing and was totally annexed by Rob. Good conversation though – I really had a great time. But… no regrets when he left after couple of hours, because this gave me the chance to spend some time with others. Party moved back to the hotel and lasted really long. I’ve been at plenty of conferences but I’m still naive and never learn, that when you’re up all night, it’s really really hard to focus on any talk the next day. But also that it’s extremely tough to perform your own. So… maybe next time I’ll remember about that? Nah… For me next day was less stressful, so I could really chill out in the evening. Mainly because my talk was behind me already. There was a party there at the conference venue with some food and drinks. Weather was just great and allowed us to stay at the balcony of some sort and enjoy beautiful view at Stockholm city. And the place speaks for itself. After some time (10pm and still bright like it’s 5pm in some normal country) a subgroup of speakers (including me) separated. First we’ve headed the IceBar. I was in a dress and when Paul realized my outfit, I heard from him: You’ll be f…(reaking) cold. Yeah… he was right! It was ridiculously freezing, but also I was in such a good mood, that I survived it pretty easily. Seriously, I haven’t had so much fun in years. Everybody were tired that day, but nonetheless party lasted long again. This time I really needed to catch up with some sleeping and got maybe whole… 2h of it. So next day I headed the conference venue around noon and spent most of it getting tanned outside in the sun. Conference I knew the venue is a theatre of some sort, but didn’t expected what I got. It was actual theatre with the stage and stuff. I didn’t get the chance to perform there, because some of the talks had to take place in smaller rooms or even separate buildings, but still – awesome. Shame though it was so hard to get to the speakers lounge – it was on the end of the world guarded by trolls and 2 pin codes. So neither me or anybody I know came there. Because of stress, partying and early flight the second day of the conference, I attended only three talks. So… you know what’s next
Ben Hall – Embracing “Startup life” and learning to think “The startup way”
First of all it was a miracle that I was up this early (10am) after sleeping maybe for half an hour. I was planning to lay in the sun trying to catch up, but Polish guys gathered me from the outside to see this presentation. How was it? Really nice (it’s similar to fine). Especially because I usually reject (it’s like physical reaction) most of the startup buzzwords and ideas, and it wasn’t the case this time. The baseline was straightforward and not so pompous. Also we had some laughs with guys while sitting in the audience and referring what Ben said to enterprise (theirs) and startup (my) realities. I also understood most of it – not like on DevDay for example. Basically it was fun, well prepared (yeah, I know he claims he doesn’t do that ) , and told from experience. And maybe if I didn’t know better how startup life look like, I’d be tempted to live it. Great catchphrase though: Easier to go from shit to great, that from nothing to greatness.
Niall Merrigan – From attendee to presenter , managing technical presentations
Great talk! Planned, interesting, well prepared, even better performed. Niall did his research, had plenty of talks, and really knew what he was talking about. And it was about presentation giving, preparation to them and performing them. It pointed out some mistakes and wrong habits. Because it was mostly focused on IT talks, rules were not only for the person who is presenting and slides, but also for coding demos. There was even an exercise for some people in the audience. But it was a mistake for me to watch it. My talk was supposed to be next, and Niall pointed out as a mistake almost everything I had prepared. No, I’m exaggerating but still, there were so many things to improve… From proper font on presentation, trough abusing our “favorite words”, to being well prepared. He said you should record yourself or practice in front of the mirror. Oh my – I can’t do it yet. I was literally terrified at the end… but will write later how it went.
Michał & Rafał – Passion makes the world go round
Some people were interested in listening to two guys from Poland that created one of the best IT conferences in Europe. I know them both and can say for sure, that passion is their way of living. So to tell the whole truth – I was a bit disappointed. I mean it wasn’t a bad presentation, but it seemed like they were talking about the passion … without it. As ones said to me at the conference, when I shared my opinion – probably I’m just jealous and hard to pleased. This is probably true. If you read my previous posts, you know there weren’t many talks I recommend. On the good site – the topic was theirs – they really owned it. They DID organized the conference against many obstacles and without the passion they have, this wouldn’t be possible.
And how was my talk?
First of all, as I said previously, I was terrified. Second it was like 5 minutes to my presentation and the room was almost empty. The only people there were me, technical guy and 2-3 people who knew me and wanted to hear me speaking for the first time. It was good and bad at the same time. Then something changed… There were attendees coming and in few minutes I had a room full of them. My colleagues even got up to stay at the back to make some seats free. Wow, I thought then, that’s the challenge, and… just started. Still, I was really nervous, couldn’t find proper words in English, and was a bit shaking. I managed to warm up the audience while introducing myself – after all this is my favorite topic . And I almost lost them while live coding. But fortunately it passed when… I started being funny. And the best part is, that I hadn’t even planned it before. Feedback? I actually had people coming to me after and saying that it was the best talk so far. Yay! Rarely felt better after one. After some time I got also some rough numbers, and was pleasantly surprised. My sense of humor has been appreciated and people wrote that they got real value form the topic of presentation. In my head I have some things I need to work on though:
- Use my voice more consciously – different tones, different volume
- Remember to repeat questions, when asked from the audience
- Have better slides – especially bigger font, because currently text is barely visible from the last rows
- Be more mobile, not just stay in one place
- Talk more while live coding
- Actually prepare for the talk
- Stop saying “actually” all the time (and there was this second word there… but it’s not meant for public)
For me this was a great conference, but I barely survived it, because of some physical limitations of mine. I really need sleep. Additionally stress was eating me all the time, till the moment I had presentation. But it all passed and after I came back, what was left was amazing memories, new people not only in my facebook/twitter account, but also in my heart and feeling that life can be really awesome.