What I Learned Presenting at NDC Sydney

I feel honored to have just presented at NDC Sydney. NDC is one of the world's leading developer conferences, held in Oslo, London, Copenhagen and Sydney. Speakers are at the top of their field and come from all over the world to present and over the last week I got to meet a number of them. This is a story of my journey leading up to this presentation and at the end I share some valuable lessons I've learned along the way.

Inspiration to set up a Blog came from my CEO Adam Cogan, Troy Hunt and his talk Hack Your Career and my mate Dave Moores wanting to read about what I did, particularly HoloLens.

I first attended NDC Sydney 12 months ago. I'd recently started working with SSW in Melbourne and had the opportunity to go to NDC to film Play-by-Play productions for Pluralsight and spend two days attending sessions at the conference. Here I got to meet Lars Klint, Troy & Kylie Hunt, Damian Brady and Niall Merrigan. I saw Lars' present on getting started with HoloLens development and I was hooked!

When I returned to Melbourne, Adam Cogan called to ask if I wanted to present at the Sydney and Canberra .NET user groups. I hesitated - it'd been a long time since I'd spoken publicly, then I thought to myself, go on, push yourself outside of your comfort zone and I agreed. I thought HoloLens would be a great subject, so I researched, put together a presentation, and delivered the talk in Canberra and Sydney.

Figure: Sydney .NET User Group

I went on to submit a paper for DDD Brisbane in December 2016 and was accepted, which got me a referral to present to Game Technology Brisbane in May 2017. From here I submitted to speak at DDD Melbourne and NDC Sydney on Developing Object Recognition for HoloLens and was accepted for both!

Figure: DDD Brisbane

In the lead up to DDD and NDC I prepared my material - I wanted to do a great job and have audiences engaged with interesting content. For DDD I captured my screen into videos and brought those into my slides, figuring this would eliminate any interference from the technical gods during the presentation - the bane of every technical presenter! I decided to change that for the NDC presentation, as I felt I lacked authenticity - I needed to get my hands dirty in front of the audience and turns out I felt a lot better for it.

I caught up with Lars at his presentation HoloLens Development: The Next Steps, where I picked up some new tips and on Friday morning Lars and I filmed an Ask Me Anything live session with SSW TV about HoloLens and Mixed Reality development.

It was an amazing week topped off with the hilarious PubConf on Friday night.

Valuable lessons I've learned along the way:

  • Always push yourself beyond comfortable boundaries - there is no growth without discomfort
  • Preparation - doing a bit frequently over time versus doing it all several weeks prior (note to future self) will be so much better
  • Preparation takes twice as long as you expect
  • Screen captured videos versus live coding gives me a feeling of being more authentic while presenting
  • Overcoming nerves - picturing the audience naked when the audience is full of developers does not have the desired results!
  • Overcoming nerves - practice, practice, practice, then some more
  • Overcoming nerves - taking breaths, pausing and not rushing during the presentation
  • Make sure audio visual connections are working before presenting (awkward audio moment there at DDD, but I pulled it off ok)
  • Have backup plans - the environment you present in won't be the same everywhere (I usually use 2 laptops, 1 to present and 1 with notes and sometimes there's only room for 1 laptop)
  • Feedback is great, it gives you an opportunity to adapt, adjust and revise

Feel free to hit me up with questions or comments on what you'd like to see in future posts.