03 September 2013

My CAST presentation

Handout (used during the exercise)
Skill Development List and Personal Manifesto

* The links are currently broken, unfortunately I cannot fix this until I'm back at work since I don't have the files on my home computer anymore. Stay tuned...
And credit to Srinivas for pointing this out!, thank you!

One cool thing about presenting at a conference like CAST was all the feedback I got. First Ilari, Bernie Schroeder and Martin Hynie gave me some great things to think about/improve in the way I was presenting (avoid looking back at my slides, tweaks to my body language, tweaks to tempo and pauses). Simon Schrijver, Erik Davis, Phil Kirkham and a whole bunch of other people really boosted my confidence with their encouraging comments afterwards. Peter Walen, Brett Hinton, Jonathan together with several others asked brilliant questions and/or added valuable content during open season that helped me understand my topic even better and finally a handful of people from the audience shared stories related to my talk. All of you who attended: You really helped making my first ever conference presentation better both for me and, I'm sure, for the other attendees! Thank you!

Another kind of feedback was the recording. Listening to that helped me realize:
  • It took me a while to get the energy going
  • I had some annoying "ehh" and "and" early on
  • My flow was really nice
  • I should not interrupt the facilitator
  • I've always been a bit annoyed with how my voice sounds but listening to the recording has helped me appreciate it instead.
  • I felt several pauses was just a fraction too short (for me)
  • Well rehearsed parts did not sound "flat" or "boring", rather the opposite, so I'm very much questioning if I can "rehears too much" which some people warned me about before.
  • 26:13 (masochist "joke")... WTF! Still hurts to hear myself say... whatever I tried to say .)
  • I felt my energy raised every time I made some kind of imitation (THANK YOU HELENA)
  • The tempo was nice, could have varied it a bit more for greater effect but better than I expected
  • I hardly rambled / repeated myself at all... once again I think rehearsals played a key role.
Forgotten part
Remember how I added balance in my 10 second summary of Yes Man (31:10 in the video)? Last winter I realized I couldn't just answer yes to everything. Sure cool things happened but that required me to spend quite a bit of time away from my family. That, after a while, became too much time away. So family has turned out to be something I need to think about before answering yes to too many cool things. Your balance might be something else like time with friends, time to sleep, travel costs, mental energy etc. No matter what it is, keep it in mind.

But that small addition was all I missed! Hurray!

Answering a few questions
I got a few questions I couldn't answer during the open season that I promised to get back to when I had been thinking a bit more so here we go:

Jonathan: Was there anything on you list you tried but you completely failed at?

Just before I started the list, at my former work, I tried to change how we tested in my team to make it more "Context Driven". I failed in so many ways, more or less putting the team in a position where noone knew what was tested, what was not tested, how well the testing had went and there was not a single document or statement that could help anyone figure that out, mostly because I didn't know either.

Later, actually partly thanks to the list, all that turned into one of my coolest adventures as a tester, but up until that transformation occurred it was a major mess up.

My way of dealing with it back then was to try and cover it up, which is not a good approach by the way. Afterwards though I quickly turned it into a learning experience trying to figure out why I messed up, what I could learn from it and what positive changes actually came out of it. I think that's my general approach to failures, accept what happened, accept I can't undo anything, try to learn as much as possible and move on.

Also, in my blog post from yesterday I spoke about my history of bad presentations.

Peter Walen: What is it you have done that you kind of wished you hadn't done

I don't regret anything I've done to myself or others as long as I or whoever I did something to, feel happy about their current situation. And if someone else feels bad I try to focus on what I can do to improve their situation rather than blame myself for something I can't change anyway. So far that strategy has worked out.

The story that still bugs me the most, that I can think about now, is when I was caught lying in like 5th grade. It was rather innocent, our teacher asked us about the temperature where we lived (don't ask me why). I lived far out on the countryside and we quite often had a degree or two colder than in the city. So I strategically grabbed a chair so that I would be asked last and always answered 1-3 degrees lower than everybody else. One day a classmate outsmarted me though and answered a ridiculously low temperature. I didn't notice the temperature he suggested was like ten degrees lower than everyone else's so I just answered like two degrees lower than his... and suddenly everyone started to laugh.

But like all the other stories that taught me a valuable lesson so I've come to terms with it... still hurts a tiny bit to admit though...

... From a testing perspective I can't really think of any... maybe that I didn't start to care about testing earlier but once again, my current position rocks so can't really feel bad about that either.

Simon Schrijver: How do you rebound from mistakes
I (and Simon himself!) answered that during the presentation but please check out the previous answers for some additional details.

Additional credits

Pekka Marjamäki
The kind and brilliant tester who offered me coaching before RST.
He will be speaking at EuroSTAR! Check him out!

Henrik Emilsson
Henrik provided the invaluable feedback that turned my "not so amazing Lightning Talk" into a kick ass learning experience.

Johan Jonasson
The person who helped me find my local test community, helped me survive my first peer conference and was part of founding Let's Test, what's not to like about him .)

Pierre Rasmussen
Mentioned during open season as the friend who shared his weekly reflections on Twitter. I have been too inactive for too long to say if he still does but no matter what he's a brilliant test-infected programmer worth checking out.


  1. The links related to Slides, Handout (used during the exercise) are redirecting to 404 error page. Can you please correct the links?

    1. Oh, it's because I've moved to a different web host; I'll look into it...

      Thank you Srinivas for pointing it out!

    2. Sorry that it took a while but now all the files should be available again.

      Thank you once again Srinivas for reporting it!

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