“Speaker Idol”: Montreal, October 25th

Speaker Idol: photo of microphone

Want to share your .NET knowledge in front of an audience? Got some special pearl of wisdom that you’d like to pass to your grateful, applauding peers? Want to win prizes for your scintillating oratory?

“La Communauté .NET Montréal lance un grand concours appelé Speaker Idol afin de vous donner la chance d’être conférencier,” says the Speaker Idol event site. Luckily, my vast experience in talking my way out of sticky situations in La Belle Province has given me enough skill to translate it:

Logo: Speaker Idol - Communaute .NET MontrealThe Montreal .NET Community is starting a competition called Speaker Idol. It’s your chance to be the speaker, presenting a .NET-related topic, trick or technique in ten minutes in front of a panel of expert judges. Impress them, and you’ll get:

  • An opportunity to do a full presentation in front of the user group at a later date
  • A license for the all-singing, all-dancing, all-coding Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate

The rules for Speaker Idol:

  • When and where? Speaker Idol takes place on Monday, October 25th, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Microsoft’s Montreal Office (2000 Avenue McGill College, 4th floor).
  • Both official languages welcome. No, not C# and VB, but French and English!
  • They’re looking for new speakers. The contest is open only to people who’ve never spoken at a user group or conference.
  • Submission deadline: You need to submit a brief description (200 words max.) of your talk and a speaker bio by midnight, October 1st (Friday!) to
  • Maximum number of participants: They’re looking for 10 participants, and no more. If more than 10 people sign up, the best 10 submissions will get picked. Sign up soon!
  • Who presents first? Speaker Idol contestants will present in alphabetical order, based on surname. If your family name is Aaaaaaabercrombie, you’re probably going on first!
  • Speaker Idol contestants will be announced on October 4th.
  • Contestants will be judged on:
    • Mastery of their subject
    • Quality of their presentation
    • Ability to get the point across
    • Quality of their slides
    • Quality of their code
  • What will be provided: A laptop with Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and SQL Server Express 2008 installed will be available. If your presentation requires the installation of other software, please bring your own (if your bring your own, set your screen resolution to 1024 * 768).
  • What won’t be provided: There will be no internet connection available.
  • What you should bring: Bring your PowerPoint presentation and demo code on a USB key or drive. Your presentation and code will be featured on the .NET Community’s site.
  • Judging: A panel of 3 judges will comment on your presentation and the audience will vote. They promise a relaxed environment.

Once again, if you want to participate, submit your 200-word-max presentation description and bio to!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Confessions of a Public Speaker

public speaking

confessions of a public speaker

Sooner or later, unless you’re going to hide in a monastery or settle for entry-level jobs for the rest of your life, you will have to speak in front of a crowd of people. It may happen in front of a small circle of peers, a boardroom meeting, online or in front of an auditorium with thousands of people.

Whether you’re like me — I enjoy public speaking; it’s one way I get my jollies — or whether the thought of standing in front of a crowd to deliver a presentation turns your blood to ice, I think you’ll find Scott Berkun’s book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, both helpful and entertaining. I’ve been reading this book for a handful of reasons:

  • As a way to get myself fired up to take on three weeks of being a track lead at TechDays conferences in cities away from home: next week it’s Montreal, the week after that I’m in Ottawa, and finally, the week after that, Winnipeg.
  • To help crystallize my own thoughts on public speaking in order to give advice to my fellow programmers about speaking in front of crowds.
  • Because Scott Berkun’s a great writer and has some interesting (and often amusing) stories to tell.

At 240 small pages with decent-sized type and with Berkun’s storytelling style, Confessions of a Public Speaker is a pretty quick read. He provides insights, advice, tips and probably most important of all, true “road warrior” stories that come from his own 15 years of public speaking plus stories of disasters faced by other well-known public speakers. Topics covered in the book include:

  • It’s okay to get “the butterflies” before public speaking; the trick is getting them to fly in formation!
  • “Umm”, “Ahh” and other verbal placeholders that people use, and how to stop using them (I’m guilty of this one myself).
  • How to work a tough room, and why a “tough room” is often actually the fault of the room, not the audience.
  • A very important chapter titled The Science of Not Boring People
  • Why most speaker evaluations are useless (I may have to show this one to the folks at Microsoft; we use speaker evaluations all the time).
  • The little things pros do (Luckily, we do every one on the list at Microsoft!).
  • What to do if your talk sucks, what to do if things go wrong, and which of these your audience will notice.

Confessions of a Public Speaker is one of those rare books that’s both entertaining and immediately useful. I’m going to recommend it to my fellow evangelists, and I certainly recommend it to you as well! It’s available directly from O’Reilly in both paper and ebook formats (I went with the ebook, which is US$19.99 / CA$21.45 as of this writing) as well as from the usual suspects: Chapters/Indigo, and Amazon.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.