First, I want to take a moment to say “thank you” to every one who came to my session at DevCon. I had a lot of fun doing it, and the feedback I have received through email and through my website has been really positive.  This makes me really happy!

I just received my evaluations back from FileMaker. These are really important, so thanks again to everyone who took the time fill one out. For me, the evaluations are all about learning how I can get better.  So like most DevCon Speakers, I spend some time going through them to see what I can learn.

First, the participation rate.  I know that my room sat 200 people, and they had to bring in some extra chairs so the total number was about 210 people.  Of those 210 people, 69 took the time to fill out an evaluation.  Thats about a 33% participation rate.  I am not sure where that stands in the participation rate for other sessions.  But I am going to guess thats pretty good.

Next, how did I do?  Well I am not going to talk too much about the positive remarks or the total score, because its just hard to do without sounding like A-hole.  And although I am grateful for all the positive remarks, and believe me I do care, I want to focus on some comments that show were I can improve.

Some people felt that I moved too fast. And I did, no question.  There was a lot to cover, and I really wanted to make sure that I gave people their money’s worth.  There were other good sessions at the same time as mine. I wanted to make sure that those folks who came to my session were rewarded with a lot of material.  But the reality is that it was a lot of material, and I jammed though it.  Perhaps next year I can split it into two topics and spend more time on each split.  I am not sure if FMI wants two sessions on “commit record”, but there is enough material to warrant it.

Some people felt that I was nervous.  The honest truth is that it isn’t nerves. I am not really nervous up there and I am not really scared.  I really like being the center of attention. But I am a high energy guy. I don’t have a low gear.  So some of that impression probably comes from that.

But most  of it probably comes from something that few people know about me. I stutter. I have since I was 2 years old.  It used to be debilitating.  25 years ago getting up in front of a room full of people would have been impossible for me. Today it isn’t really a problem, but it did leave me with some speech patterns that can easily be mis-interpreted as being nervous. People who stutter or used to stutter can instantly recognize these patterns for what they are, but for others it can come off like being nervous.  Slowing down helps, so I can work that some more, but honestly it may never go away completely.

The last bit of feedback was that I didn’t stick to the course description.  One person in particular came to my session to get the answer to two questions, and I didn’t answer them. They were “disappointed”.  This is the one that I am the sorriest about.  Here were the two question this person wanted answered.

  • What to do about committing records when a phone call interrupts a script.
  • What to do about two users in the same record at the same time.

That person had a point. According to the description, I should have covered those topics very thoroughly.  Although I feel I did touch on them, I didn’t give them the same weight that they got in the session description.  That stinks.

In my defense I will say that we have to write the session description 6 to 8 months before we give it. Its really hard to stick to that same outline. Things change. What seemed important in the dark cold nights of January seems less so under the endless summer sun of July.

But really, that’s no excuse.  This person came to my session to get answers to questions that I probably should have covered, based on the session description.  I am sorry about that. Next year if I am lucky enough to speak, I will try to stick closer to the sessions description.   Also I will try to answer those two questions in blog posts in the next couple of months.

So that is what I learned based on the speaker evaluations from this years DevCon.  Thanks again to everyone who came, and who filled out the evaluations.  And a special thanks to those of you who pointed out where I can do better.