At our recent VMUG I was reminded why the events exist. Sometimes in these events you can get lost in attendee numbers or the latest technology, but a comment at the end of our latest event summed up the spirit of the VMUG.
Our latest outing included great presentations from Simplivity & TrendMicroUK. One thing I really enjoyed about their sessions is the fact they were engaged, it was a chat and even heckling was actively encouraged. Their Powerpoint slides were a formality and not the whole premise of the talk. Couple that with some great questions and banter from Ricky El-Qasem and you can imagine these were not your average sessions.
Neil Mills took the hot topic of CV writing, and Agent etiquette and commanded the attention of the room. Even those of us not looking for a role were surprised to find some of the internet tips, were just plain wrong. In all honesty, if I had had the guidance that Neil offers the candidates he takes on to place, I think my experience of job hunting would have had far less leg work.
The last session of the day was to be a community presenter, and that is the main focus of my post as you will see.
One thing we have always struggled with is to get members to talk about their own experiences. Vendors are more than happy to fill the presentation slots, and members happy to talk tech over lunch. We wanted to bring those lunch conversations out into the open and allow a chance for them to be presented in their own right, in the hope that someone would take something away from it.
Daunting to say the least
Have you ever stood up on stage and talked about your career, your latest deployment or experience?
If you have then you deserve credit, the whole experience can seem quite intimidating and it is this fear that seems to be the main reason that members of the user groups don’t get up and talk, it is certainly one that we have found hard to conquer in our chapter.
Recent Success Story.
One thing I don’t think gets talked about enough is “those guys” who braved the nerves and presented. We have a couple of examples from our group but the one that stands out at the moment is a guy called James Kilby.
The back story is we pleaded (the leaders and our presenter Mike Laverick) to our members to take control of their VMUG, to show us what they are doing out in the real world. James bravely took up this challenge and presented at our previous event with a session on his home lab.
It would be true to say his main concern (like so many) was he wouldn’t have anything interesting to say in his slide deck. I can say quite categorically that his evolution of his home lab was an eye opener. To the point I went home and shut mine down, as I had never realised the cost until he explained it. I even changed my storage provider after he provided some quite detailed analysis of the offerings.
James agreed to talk again at our latest event, and with some coaching from #FeedForward and Veeam, he successfully presented on the considerations and “Gotchas” of a good backup / DR plan. The talk went down very well with some great conversation generated including a little dig at Hani El-Qasem (as the projector blew up during his presentation).
With the mentoring and the opportunity to present, James has proven himself to a be a successful, knowledgeable speaker who is keen to help others learn from his experiences, and it’s a pleasure to know that it started at our VMUG.
We mean it
To all other VMUG members we say “try it”! When we say come and talk about your experiences good or bad, we really do mean it. If one person takes away something from your talk, you have succeeded! Take advantage of the feed forward program and assistance from VMUG leaders, it really does help.Even if you just want someone to stand up with you, we will do it!
If you really like the idea of talking but the thought of a 45 minute presentation is too much then just let us know, we are more than happy to work our event around the presenters. We can do lightening sessions (15 minutes) or even conduct your session more informally such as over beer or food.
One thing a change of venue has taught me is that seating matters, our latest event changed from conference style seating to a more boardroom style seating arrangement and the change in interaction was immense.
Don’t forget the Vendors.
If you are interested in talking about a specific technology, ask the vendor of it for help, they will certainly want to assist you once they they know you are evangelising their technology. A great person to ask about his experiences of being involved with the vendors is Nick Furnell who has had some collaborations.
A passing comment makes it all worth while
So as you can imagine the projector blowing up messing the time table up, a new venue with a different way of working, and cold miserable day made this event a little harder than most. However, as some members were leaving a new member took the time to say how educational it had been, and thoroughly enjoyed all the sessions, but specifically the “DR Session”.
To me ,that 30 second conversation summed up all that we are tying to achieve, to give members a chance to learn and those willing to teach, a chance to be heard.
Long may it continue.