There are a few people out there in the community who speak. You know who you are, I’ve been to your talks.
Sometimes, at a user group meeting there are forms to fill out where you circle a number and hand in the form and potentially win a prize like a license to Red Gate SQL Prompt or a copy of ReSharper. But what happens when people don’t fill them out. Or they come up with a particularly insightful comment after the fact like “ZOMG, your presentation totally saved my ass today! There was so much useful information in your presentation and I was able to use it and fix my production explosion!” Or, heaven forfend, the feedback forms are lost in someone’s car or they get recycled or whatever.
Enter speakerrate.com. I’ve known about speakerrate.com for a while now, but for some reason it’s always slipped my mind. At devLink I told Kevin Kline about it and he immediately added it to his presentation slides.
So, what’s the value? Well, it makes it a bit easier for people to rate at their convenience. Maybe I’m feeling rushed, maybe I’m in a bad mood, maybe I want to think about what the speaker said for a while before I leave a lasting mark on their speaking record. Maybe I want everyone to know that I got absolutely nothing out of this so called advanced presentation. You can do all of those things.
The point is that you’re contributing, for better or for worse, to the long term reputation of a speaker. Everyone can see what you have to say and everyone can see how the audiences respond to the speaker. All in all, everyone wins.
What does this mean for speakers?
Interestingly enough, it makes some aspects of speaking a lot easier. When you’re talking to a user group leader you can give them a link to your SpeakerRate.com page (mine is http://speakerrate.com/peschkaj). This makes it easy for user group leaders and speaker selection committees see what they’re in for. Likewise, it keeps your record public.
It’s even easier to get feedback. Rather than collecting the forms, waiting for someone to process the new email addresses and maybe go through the comments for their own purpose before typing them up and emailing them to you, you can simply put a link at the end of your presentation and ask the audience to visit the site and rate your talk. Sure, it takes a little bit more time but you can also always tell them the honest truth: your boss is going to shove you in a box and shake it up real good unless you have great ratings.
Most important to me is that it’s a constant stream of feedback on how I’m doing as a speaker. I learned that I took a lot of my knowledge for granted. Now I know what I need to do the next time I give this presentation and I’m going to make sure that I do a much better job. Why? Because one of the audience members said that they didn’t understand some concepts that I mentioned without an explanation. I can now tailor the presentation to include more background material or take out some advanced material. The point is that without the feedback, I wouldn’t have known about these comments and I might have continued to give this presentation with too little background information and too much advanced information.
Note I have not been paid for this, I just think it’s a cool idea