Monday, 12 November 2018

Not a Natural Born Speaker - some Tips


I love presenting, but I believe it is my passion for the content that delivers it, not any natural born ability.

I am very lucky I don't suffer from nerves, well not about the actual speaking, more 'will anyone be interested in what I have to say?' I have taken to bribing at overseas conferences, bring a tub of quality street and everyone wants to hear your story. In America I have the added advantage of 'a lovely English accent' - I don't do too bad.

Today I was presenting in South Africa, and half way through I could see a couple in the audience who looked lost. I looked back at the screen to see I had skipped a slide and what I was saying had no correlation to the slide being projected. Flustered, I stopped, Told the audience I had messed up and went back. They still laughed at my awful jokes, so I was happy.

I follow a number of self improvement, motivational people, one of which is Andy Bounds. in the last month he has had two blogs about Presenting with his top 10 tips for a bulletproof presentation

The tip about links resonated with me. When I am switching between slides and a demo, I add a posit to the slide to say 'demo' - so I don't forget where I am


The top tip for me here was practice, I rarely present to my colleagues and I should do more, they will give more honest feedback. 

I thought it would be great to share them with those perhaps just starting their speaking career.

Sign up for Andy's newsletters there are lots more tips.

Then I thought I'd add a few of my own:

Make sure you have a backup on a USB stick
If there is a problem with your laptop or even more likely the connectivity with the venue AV, you may still be able to run from a USB on their equipment. I know that isn't possible if you are demoing something on your laptop, but it has been a lifesaver for me.
Also if you are using a cloud demo, include the links on the stick.

Setup your Powerpoint Slideshow in 'Browse by an individual (window mode)' 
This allows you to swap windows without coming out the presentation. I wish I had know this years ago, would have saved me lots of fiddling around in front of the audience.

Ask for feedback
Not just 'did you like it' or the conference feedback, although that is equally important. But ask someone you see later, what did they really like and was there any part they didn't understand?

Understand why you present, your USP
I'm not technical, but what I bring is an understanding of the technology to the business. I did think was one-way, but I often get technical people who attend and tell me afterwards I made them consider the business impact / considerations. There needs to be more dialogue between tech and business and I happy if I facilitate that. 
If I compared myself to great technical speakers in my area I would fail, but I am not trying to do the same thing.

And to finish with another comment from Andy:

"as Bob Monkhouse used to say, presentations are all about your ABC and XYZ – Always Be Confident, and Xamine Your Zipper!"




Thursday, 8 November 2018

A busy Few Weeks Presenting............


With my trip to Oracle Open World over,  the 2nd of the two busy periods in the User Group Calendar is  upon us, (the other one being April / May).

However as this year's OOW was late it's now a jam-packed calendar for the rest of the year.

Obviously the biggest and best this time of year is UKOUG. I'm the Apps Lead again and really excited about this year. We are trying to not only cater for those looking to move to Cloud, but also those who are living in the Cloud, and just as importantly those who are happy where they are. For everyone, we hope to help them get more from their investments.

But I'm not just at UKOUG, before that I'm at the SAOUG and DOAG, and the day after UKOUG I'm off for a quick trip to India  for SANGAM.

I have spoken at SaOUG before both times in Johanesburg but this time it is in Drakensberg and  I am hoping to get a chance at the weekend to appreciate the setting.

I have spoken many times at the DOAG, and it always signals Christmas has started. The German approach to Christmas is so traditional and I love it. And how can you go wrong with a conference that serves Gl├╝hwein?


I have also been to India before for Yathra, however  I didn't enjoy the manic travel. I did promise I would be back for this one destination conference, and I am really pleased I will be there this year. 



I'll be presenting my Back to Basics on Fusion, How can you extend SaaS, Extending without Code and the Chatbot in various combinations across these. 

Very busy but it will be fun. Thank you to the ACE Program for the opportunity and to Accenture who continue to support what I do.




Friday, 2 November 2018

My EMEA Short Talk - WhichInstance?


My contribution to the EMEA ACEs Short Talks is a very old story and could be about the time I stopped being Technical.

We are taking almost 20 years ago when I was an E Business Suite Support manager in Fujitsu.

A customer had a problem where one off payments were not generating cheques (that is the correct English spelling of check).

Despite raising a TAR (the old word for SR, a Technical Assistance Request) with Oracle, we had not found the answer.  

I was unable to replicate in the test system so the DBA created me a clone so I could play investigate in the system safely.

I dialled in (yep the story is that old), which connected me to the live instance which resided on sequent1 (sequent used to be Oracle hardware of choice). Then I had to 'telnet' to sequent 2 where the clone was hosted.

I worked on the problem for many hours and then had a breakthrough, the error was in a setting in a profile option (as far as I remember, the error is not really important to the story).

I created a new file with a one off payment and ran it through the system from start to finish. Brilliant it all worked. I disconnected and went off to bed believing I had great news to share with the customer Monday morning.

Not quite what happened though, the customer rang me to say I had successfully tested their fraud procedure and they had found the payment I had made myself and the cheque had been destroyed and not posted.

I was horrified, I had created a cheque or myself in Production!!!!!!!

What happened was I had dialled into sequent1 but failed to telnet successfully to sequet2. I didn't realise because as the DBA had not renamed the clone (why did he need to, they were on separate machines?).


So I wasn't in the clones Live, I was in the 'live' live. I had fixed the problem and generated a one off payment to myself. 

I was begging to panic as to what this would result in. A complaint or even loosing my job, but the customer laughed and said it was  obviously a well intentioned error. If I was really going to defraud them I would have made the payment for more than £100!




2018 OOW - EMEA ACEs Short Talks


I blogged about this year's planned session before OOW.



We had a great crowd and the laughter was infectious. 

Michelle Malcher was our timekeeper and did very well, most people were so scared of going over their 4 minutes they finished early, in fact all people except Simon Haslam who went for a double slot.

At the end Michelle claimed EMEA credentials as she used to work in Germany and closed the session we her own thoughts. I was expecting another mistake example but Michelle talked about the importance of teaching people, especially the next generation that we all make mistakes and we learn from them.

This year I asked all the speakers to blog about their mistakes, and that includes me. I will add the links as they post them. Prize for first one posted goes to Lonneke.

Tim Hall - Production Gone
Julian Dontcheff - Sunday
Christian Trieb - Deleteddatabasebackup
Lonneke Dikmans - Reuse
Simon Haslam  - Paste
Gurcan Orhan - AutoCommitDeletes
Ami Aharonovich - Decisions
Kiran Taylor - Truncate
Alex Nuijten - TableConstraints 
Debra Lilley - WhichInstance?

This is one of my favourite parts of OOW, it talks a lot to get it set up, but it is fun and educational. Please consider me for 2019.

Return to main 2018 OOW page

2018 OOW - Final Thoughts





I thought it was a great OOW. It seemed more joined up in the messages, across their entire portfolio.

I did think it was smaller but that its not a bad thing.

I loved Larry, he seemed less scripted than in recent years, it was Larry at his best. 

All parts of the conference, sessions, exhibitions, CodeOne, all were closer together and enabled delegates to move more easily between them.

I have a folder full of things to follow up on, and a brain full of content to process.

There is lots of commentary on the event but here are those from my favourite analysts at diginomica

And make up your own mind with the on demand content.

Return to main 2018 OOW page


2018 OOW - Off Piste Fun


Despite how busy OOW is, I love it. I try and pace myself to get through the week, and try to get to bed at a reasonable time each night.

The conference party at AT&T Park was great fun, as you can see from this video of Alex, Roel and Chris Saxon (AskTom). I like this venue, we can walk to and from it, and having a special ACE area is a lovely treat.


'The husband'
It was going to be a cold evening as there was a wind about. Michelle bought us hats and gloves but we needed another layer. Luckily the exhibition had a scavenger hunt so we dedicated 42 minutes (of course) to rush around and get our cards completed and claim our prizes of snuggly OOW fleeces. I loved that they were grey and actually wore mine on the flight home. Hides the crumbs much better than the traditional black.

I've said throughout all the posts how blessed I am to have so many friends through all these communities. I even had a chance to catch up with most of the conference family.

I went to the OakTable World and listened to Mogens give his unique take onGDPR which started a great discusion. His ability to make people learn by questioning themselves never disapoints.

I said in my pre OOW post that there was no time for the traditional triathlon this year. I really missed the swim, but on Friday morning when it as all over Michelle and I took an Uber up to the bridge and walked both ways across it. It was a lovely way to end the week.


Not a stock photo, just my iPhone



I love San Francisco.

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2018 - Women in Technology



My dream is that as a topic WIT or any diversity category will not warrant a posting in the future.

Signs were good this year at one point in the CodeOne Developers' lounge I had to queue in the Ladies restroom!

At Oracle HQ I met with one of my favourite ladies, Maria Colgan. She had some chocolate giveaways for her sessions. How cool when you have your own candy!

There are so any great female speakers at OOW and the ACE program announced that we have 12 female ACE directors > 10%  for the first time. Welcome Rita Nunez to the group.

At the Partner PaaS Council I received their first WIT sticker, I love it.

There was a diversity stream at OOW but this time I was simply not able to attend, disappointing but unavoidable.

The Groundbreakers Community had a WIT breakfast in the amazing setting of The View in the Marriott. 


There was a speaker from Technovation. They help disadvantaged girls to solve problems with technology. The program includes 12 weeks mentoring through the building of a mobile app and have helped over 20,000 girls in over 100 countries.

They told us about a group of deaf girls in Brazil who they helped write a sign language app. 

Lori Lorusso then talked about the ACE program and gave a great passionate pitch. 

It was a great way to start the day and catch up with friends and encourage each other. A special thanks to all the men who attended.

All the ACE ladies had scarves and then we got the opportunity to talk to  those who attended about how the program works.

ACE program ladies
 Return to main 2018 OOW page