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If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....

By Andrew Pollack on 11/18/2009 at 07:57 AM EST

....well, I'm sorry to hear that and can understand your disappointment. For most of you, you have my best hopes that next year you get a better result. If you think I can help you refine your presentation skills or your presentation submission skills, drop me an email or talk to me at Lotusphere. If, however, your response to not being chosen to deliver was to write a complaint, demand an explanation, or make statements deriding other sessions or speakers, then I believe that is itself a sort of proof that excluding you was a good decision.

I do, truly, have nothing but the most sincere sympathy for anyone who wanted to speak but didn't get chosen. I have extra sympathy for them, actually, because I give absolutely none to those who whine and complain as a response. Lots of people (including me, at times) have posted with suggestions on how you might be more likely in the future to get accepted so I won't try to do that here. I will point out that the least likely method to get there would be to piss all over the people who do speak, or the people who choose the speakers.

The comment that irks me the most is the one that suggests "THEY" should pick all new speakers each year either in some misguided effort to be "Fair" or somehow "Freshen up" the content. Maybe you think I'm against that idea because I'm one of those who has presented many years in a row or has more than one session. You're welcome to believe that, but the truth is somewhat different. The truth is, presenting at Lotusphere is not as easy as good speakers make it look. Knowledge of topic is NOT sufficient. There is an art and skill in presentation delivery as well. There's an ability to make a connection to your audience that is a requirement. Timing your material, changing your delivery on the fly based on how the audience is reacting, and handling demos that don't work as expected are all skills that take years to refine. Lotusphere is NOT the place to learn how to speak.

Frankly, if the reason you want to speak at Lotusphere is just to get the free ticket, you shouldn't be doing it - especially at Lotusphere where the only monetary benefit is show admission. The hotel, travel, etc. are not paid for by the show and you're not paid for your time at all. For me, that tends to be an average of 5 days per session leading up to the show, and around four hours per session at the show itself (more if you repeat). Look at the monetary value of that time, and the ticket isn't worth the work by itself. You should be speaking because you have value to add, you love to speak, or you think you can enhance your income by showing people that you provide value -- and if the track managers don't think you're up to it yet, they're probably right.

Every year, new speakers are added to the schedule. They submit compelling session abstracts, often they've proven themselves at smaller venues or have partnered with experienced speakers in other years. If you're a complete unknown in terms of the speaking "circuit" then your abstract probably has to be pretty exceptional or your content somehow unique. Is that wrong? When the track managers go through hundreds of submitted ideas and start selecting from similar session descriptions, should they favor one from someone nobody has ever seen present or a very similar topic by someone who has gotten top scores and filled rooms year after year? Speakers get dropped from the schedule too. Speakers who fail to produce high marks don't get asked back. Speakers who fail to meet presentation deadlines, show up late, or cause problems for track managers aren't likely to get asked back. A track manager is swamped during an event like this and needs a stable of speakers that are proven, reliable, and low-maintenance.

By the way, I'm also an attendee. From that perspective there is nothing more annoying to me at Lotusphere than someone who fails to meet my expectations for a session delivery. If I go to session, I'm deciding to NOT go to several others at the same time. I expect the session to be delivered in a professional, understandable, and content rich manner. I expect the presenter to be well organized and to present practical material -- not simply to show off their knowledge about arcane topics nobody will ever use. I expect them to speak clearly and with confidence. I expect them to be entertaining enough to keep me interested and awake (IBM Developers get a bit of a break on this as presenting skills are not a normal part of their job, but their inside knowledge comes with huge value).

If you're serious about getting up on stage and haven't been able to do it, talk to me and I'll help if I can.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Paul Mooney on 11/18/2009 at 08:39 AM EST
Well said Andrew

Additionally, Lotusphere IDOL was created a few years ago for the very purpose
of giving a presenter a shot to win a session by presenting a mini-session.
Additionally, by submitting to IDOL you are then known by the selectors.. all
this helps.

Also, Speedgeeking? Those sessions typically are more "leniant" on the speaker
and help out newbies to the lotusphere ring.

By the term newbies I am not meaning to offend at all either. You could be
very experienced speaking at many events, but you simply may not be known to
the people that choose the sessions. That is not anyone's fault, but can be
resolved.
re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Denny Russell on 11/18/2009 at 10:08 AM EST
Well stated and I'm sure it's hard to get thru all of the applicants and pick
which ones to choose.

For newbies like myself, what would you suggest is the best way to get know? I
presented at MWLUG this summer and have done a few webinars in the past.

I plan to submit to LotusIdol as well. Any other thoughts for future
submissions?
re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Andrew Pollack on 11/18/2009 at 10:25 AM EST
Idol is a great way to make sure the right people see you -- and if you can do
well with that kind of on the fly kind of thing, it also shows those people
that you'll do well in a session when things go a bit pear shaped.
Idol...By Ed Brill on 11/18/2009 at 10:51 AM EST
we'll open Idol nominations back up, to get more of the unselected voices a
chance to be heard.
re: Idol...By Denny Russell on 11/18/2009 at 03:53 PM EST
Looking forward to it.
re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Jo Grant on 11/18/2009 at 12:49 PM EST
Sadly, I fell into the category of "not accepted". I have no problem
presenting, and have done so with positive ratings for several years. The two
topics put in were things business partners have been asking about.
Sometimes you can do everything right and still get rejected. That's just the
way it works.
re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Andrew Pollack on 11/18/2009 at 01:12 PM EST
That's entirely true, -- and a point I forgot to make.

I have no doubt you'd have done well, Jo.
re: If you didn't get chosen to deliver a Lotusphere Session....By Daniel Lieber on 11/20/2009 at 02:44 PM EST
This was very well stated, Andrew. I put a more comprehensive explanation (and
kudos to you) on Ed Brill's blog linking here.

I'll see you in January!


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