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Agile Conference presentations – a call to raise the bar

Here is an open call from me to people presenting at conferences in India. While it is heartening to see more people show up at the Agile events, nothing substantially new is being brought to notice. The maturity level is so low and very few presentations make sense to the audience. These topics would not have any importance when presented outside india.

The bygone year saw many kinds of agile conferences coming up. Scrum Bangalore, Scrum India, Agile Hyderabad, Agile India, Agile Tour in various cities. Having had quite a bit of depth in this field for many years now. I feel, here are some duties of organizers and presenters. I think this applies to any other technical conference too, esp. the ones that involve people taking out their personal time to come to these conferences.

Remember there are a few hundred thousand of us software developers, testers, architects, PM’s etc. in this country. Many are just waking to hearing these terms for the first time. What you say impacts those that hear you.


If you are organizing any sort of conference, please ask for the deck and a small write up before the conference.

Put a serious deadline to the presenters submitting this for review.

Get a small group of trust worthy and unbiased reviewers to select the presenters.

Get reviewers to commit. Many seem to simply want to be in the review committee to be popular.

Make the review process transparent, based on the true spirit of Agile .

Every presenter deserves a constructive feedback.

If you need me to review for free, I will be happy to commit to this, provided you guarantee wine and cheese in return

If you have a theme, then make sure presentations have a flow in the conference. Example – If the theme is Agile Engineering, then do not do the first one on Unit testing and then the next one on scrum for service companies.

Publish feedback of presenters openly.

Keynotes takes away the charm from the real stuff.

Misleading information by a presenter, will have serious repercussions on your conference image.

Organizers; please put a guideline on acceptance of topic .Ex.how many slides and how dense the slide deck should be.


Do your home work. Remember, the rules of presentation have changed these days. Not just less dense deck, but you should have very few slides.

NO DECKS PLEASE (lesser the better) Trainers around the world are going away from simply doing a deck based presentation to a more dynamic presentation technique. Audience must be actively involved.
Learning Rule #1 – The audience learn most from what they do in the class. So involve them however big a group.

make a mental/ small note of your ideas in a book.

One slide one word or one picture. – Do not do text at all. You can give a dense handouts along with your presentation.

Use back of the room techniques if needed. Please see Sharan Bowman’s 4C techniques. Connections, Concepts, Concrete Practice, Conclusions.

If you are a developer or architect, “SHOW CODE” What better way to teach what you know that show me the code. “Talk is cheap , Show me the code” ( Stolen text from someone in the family. Ask your audience to code).

If you are a tester – show how you test with tools. walk the talk. Ask audience to test.
“Start with the end in mind” – What is the final message you want to convey.?

Use simple anecdotes to convey your message.
“Story Telling” is a great way to get the point across.

When someone asks a question, repeat the question and open it up for discussion with audience, before answering.

Remember every question could be important. So don’t ignore any specific questions.

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