Aspects of a Good Session

Still in time for this year’s submissions for the Agile Testing Days 2015 here’s a list of takeaways from an Open Space session at the Agile Testing Days 2014.

This blog post is the result of George Dinwiddie and me asking what makes a good conference session at one of the Open Spaces. In this session we were about 8 people, so the information gathered may not be a representative for all attendees of the whole conference—and it may or may not represent other conferences.

That said without further ado, here’s the list:

  • Context for the content
    Providing context helps listeners to relate to the content and understand the circumstances in which the information was gathered. Both can be important to transfer the presented information to ones own work place.
  • Funny
    This has also been noted down as ‘makes you laugh’, which may be subtly different from ‘funny’. Most people like to laugh or at least smile. It also helps to remember a presentation if it’s entertaining as well as informative.
  • Little text
    Don’t bother people with too much text on slides. Many people will start reading—and at the same time stop listening to what’s being said. In addition to that some of the people who do not start reading, will be annoyed because the text is too small to be read.
  • Share pain points and problems, not just successes
    There’s hardly any project at all that doesn’t run into some kind of trouble. That’s OK.
    Tell people about the issues your project experienced—and also how you managed them.
  • Tell a story—a personal story
    Most people love listening to stories, even more so for a personal story.
  • Short
    Well, keep it short and stay in your assigned time box.
    Extra credit if you manage to give your audience some extra time to switch conference room after your session.
  • Experience things
    Let the audience have an experience versus just listening.
    At best this is an interactive workshop. At least this is a vicarious experience.
  • Interactive
    People like to provide input, even when attending a conference talk. Providing some interactive tasks also helps people to engage with the presented topic.
  • Speaking from experience
    At least at the Agile Testing Days, people like to learn about, dare I say it, real life experiences.
  • Can ask questions along the way
    If you can (or even like) answering questions and responding to comments along the way, by all means do so.
    However, I respect it when presenters prefer to answer questions after the talk.
  • Things that connect different topics
    Learning about new ways in which things are connected is interesting for many people. (However, I recommend against forcing this into a presentation.)
  • An outlandish topic
    Some like bizarre, unconventional stories. This certainly helps to get the audiences attention.
    Notwithstanding, don’t forget to link the presentation to the overall theme of the conference.

Some things that came to mind after the session: 

  • Images
    Provide meaningful and consistent pictures, graphs and diagrams.
  • Big, easy to read text
    This matches well with ‘Little text’ from above.

Please do not hesitate to add a comment, if you would like to add to (or disagree with) the list.
In any case, consider submitting a proposal for the Agile Testing Days! It’s a great conference, it’s fun and there was a costume party in the past few years.

London Tester Gathering Workshops 2015: “Fast Feedback Loops & Fun with Ruby”

My workshop at the London Tester Gathering Workshops 2015 is announced now! They’re offering an early bird rate until the 18th February, by the way. Find the abstract on the conference page or just read ahead. :-)

Fast Feedback Loops & Fun with Ruby

Ruby is “a Programmer’s best friend”. Let’s use Ruby to get feedback - including getting feedback automatically - when working on projects. Whether it’s about transforming source code into test results (a.k.a. running automated tests) or generating image files from raw data, Ruby can be used to automate these tasks. Furthermore, it can also be used to automate actually running these tasks, e.g. upon saving a file to disk. Does that sound like a good idea? This session is for you.

I regularly bump into tasks that are…

  1. tedious, if done manually
  2. not done often enough, unless automated
  3. still not done often enough, unless running them is automated, too.

In the workshop we’ll combine some Ruby tools to remedy this situation. In particular the workshop will cover:

  1. Writing a simple Ruby program that does something useful, e.g. turn a markdown file into HTML
  2. Wrapping that in a Rake task
  3. Automate running the task

Knowing how to do this is useful, not only for projects using Ruby as their primary language, but can be handy in all projects.

What is expected:

  • Some Ruby knowledge; you don’t have to be an expert or anything like that.
  • A notebook (or tablet) with an internet connection & Ruby installed.
    Cool if you’re using RVM, rbenv, chruby or similar
  • Mac OS X, BSD; Linux & friends are fine, Windows may be a bit problematic.

 

Word of the Year 2015

I will continue selecting a word of the year, just like 2014 and 2013. For 2015 my word of the year is ‘trust‘.

Sometimes I find myself in situations where I just trust other people (and myself). Here’s one example: Some years ago I walked through the ‘Olympia Park’ in Munich every morning on my way to work. I regularly noticed the ad to take a roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium and finally took the tour onto the transparent construction up to 40 meters above the ground level.

Roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium, Munich

Roof top tour of the Olympia Stadium, Munich

Going up there, I trusted that the people who’ve build the thing in the nineteen-seventies knew what they were doing — and I trusted that I wouldn’t suffer from acrophobia.
Walking on a transparent floor in that height isn’t something I do regularly. It totally was worth it. 8-)

Since I found that trusting often leads to a good experience, I’ll trust in 2015 becoming a good year.

Looking For A New Project Starting In 2015

I’m looking for a new project. Under “Work with me” you can get some information about me, like work examples and even an ‘old-fashioned’ profile. But that’s only a part of the story: I think the project purpose should match the team members’ personal values. Therefore, it makes sense to describe my ideal next project team; my “dream team” so to say.

So what does that dream team look like?

It’s a diverse team: People come from various fields, there are programmers, administrators, designers, maybe a tester… whatever the projects needs. People also come from all over the place (read: Earth), have different levels of experience and skill. As PicardTips has put it on Twitter:

The team has started to follow agile practices, but wants to get better at agile and/or lean development. It experiments with new ways of achieving the goal of the project. It also found ways to work together well as a distributed team, even though it may be spread across time zones. It also values working remotely.

If this resonates with you, feel free to contact me at the.tester@seasidetesting.com.

London Tester Gathering Workshops 2015: Early News

There’s news about the London Tester Gathering Workshops 2015: I’ll offer one of the workshops!

I’m sure we’ll have a couple of exiting days talking about software testing. And not only talking but also some hands-on stuff using Ruby for fun and (fast) feedback.

Before I publish more information about my workshop, I’d like it to…

look right

Stay tuned!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 692 other followers

%d bloggers like this: