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Why I rehearse sessions

Saturday I drove out to Grand Rapids to rehearse my Best Practices for Error Handling session I will present at GLGDW 2006 in a couple of weeks. I usually have my sessions down pat before I head out to a user group to test the timing and material, but Saturday was a bit different. I have been working like a crazy developer the last couple if months and barely had time to go through my session once before I drove across the state this weekend. I have nightmares like this all the time: I am walking through the Milwaukee airport and realize I have not put my session together. This was about as close as I have ever come to realizing this in real life. Sure the slides and white paper are done, but I have not looked at them since I sent the email to Whil.

Take it from me, it is all in the preparation. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! No matter how many conferences and user groups I have visited over the years, I still need to rehearse. I have been to many sessions where I can tell the presenters were giving the session for the first time. Mailing it in. I feel a little cheated when this happens, and there is no way I want to cheat developers spending their hard earned money to attend the conference.

All the great presenters rehearse. I learned this from some of the best in the business years ago before I broke into the speaking circuit.

Fortunately, the GRAFUGgers are a friendly and generous crowd and let this geek work out the kinks on the fly. The feedback is so valuable. They asked terrific questions, and forced me to think on my feet. We also proved I have about 120 minutes of presentation material that needs to be crammed into 90 minutes. I can decide to speak faster or I will just have to trim some fat.

Regardless, the 100+ attendees at GLGDW will have some homework after the conference. There is no way I can present 50+ pages of material in 90 minutes, even if I turn up my game and talk as fast as Doug Hennig or the late Drew Speedie.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in a couple of weeks. I am already getting geeked.

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