Retrospective on my MVC talk

I'm publishing this a bit late, but I took a few days (a whole two of them) without working. How refreshing!

In an effort for a more transparent process, here are a few things I think went well and didn't go too well. If you've been at the talk I would absolutely love your criticism. Practice makes perfection, but before that it makes for nicer presentations and a less worried Sebastien!

Preparation god damn it!

The font-sizes were all wrong in everything but the code-editor, this is quite unacceptable and certainly not like me at all. So be prepared if you install vs 2008 SP1 beta, it will reset all your settings. That explains the lack of proper configuration in visual studio. And of course, a problem never comes alone, vs refuses to start under my Presentation account that is set with ridiculously large DPI setting. But it all comes down to me installing this stuff too late, which left me no time to make sure everything was configured properly. Apologies to the audience, I should have had a VM up-and-ready with all my content. And apologies to myself for installing a beta service pack on my main development machines.


All the usual presentation tools were not installed on that laptop either, so no ZoomIt and no Keyboard Jedi. Again, with a reinstall of vista a couple of days before, I just didn't have the time to get it right.

One thing I find difficult is choosing a screen mode. When showing code, I want to show you my Visual studio and whatever other programs get spawned by it (ie, firefox, the command prompt) while still seeing them on my screen. For powerpoint, I want to keep presenter-specific stuff from your eyes (a timer, some notes, and in general the whole content of the slide you'll see appearing as I talk).

I need a hybrid between Clone and Span modes. I may have something working, so my next talk will guinea-pig the idea. I'll blog about it after trying it out. :)

Not having slides...

Some people didn't completely see how the MVC and the REST part of the talk connected together, and maybe I should've introduced that at the beginning on the slides. But if you know me, I don't like slides and will avoid them at all costs.

This is the first talk I give where I put some content on slides, to refresh everyone on MVP and MVC and how the models differ. I like how visual it makes the explanation, but I'd rather manage to do it graphics only, with no text whatsoever. That requires more work, a tiny bit of animation and very good graphics. Nothing that can't be done with enough time for pimping it up.

Body language

I used the MacBook remote to change slides, and the freedom to move around to move slides is next to none. I also find that having the remote to hold from the tips of my fingers helps me avoid leaving my hands hanging. Hold something to keep your hands at chest level, it puts your body language into explanation mode. Relax and put one hand in your pocket and you switch to opinion mode.

Eye contact is the best tool to calm anxiety. You'll always find a couple of people in the audience being very expressive, that lets you judge the rhythm of the presentation. There's nothing worse than an expression-less audience.

Messy content

I'm a bit in-between two waters on this one. The whole point of the talk was to see what toolkits you can use today to do REST applications, but, for various reasons, I fit in there an introduction to MVC as a first part. That just doesn't flow well, and I think I'll split those two in two different presentations: MVC introduction (I have some AJAX stuff to make that presentation complete), and REST today, rest tomorrow. They can both stand on their own feet, and it would leave me more time for doing what I prefer doing: talking rather than coding and rushing.

I'm not funny

I tend to make jokes during the talk, they're usually completely spontaneous, but they fall flat every time, except for a few friendly grins from people I've met or talked to before. I shall prepare my jokes in advance and only use them after having tested them. But not on animals.

Speak more slowly

My voice level seems to be alright, but I speak too fast. And I have those pet words that creep in, amongst them "I think" (very annoying one I have a lot of problems getting rid of, even in day-to-day conversation), and Ok (very patronising, hate it, think I managed to mostly kick it off my presentations).

It's quite funny how the brain gives you those little fetish words. I think they creep-in because they trick your brain think there's a rhythm to what you're saying, when simple punctuation and sentences should be enough. It may also be the case that they give your brain enough time to reformulate when you're mid-sentence and unsure about what to say next. Again, preparation is the key.

Have different solutions, not different projects

This one bit me during the presentation. As I prepare the code for all the major steps, I end up with the same project at different stages, and I made the mistake of keeping all the projects in the same solution, often resulting in the wrong code being ran when pressing F5 and the wrong files being shown when I expected to show some code.

From now on, I'll keep all the projects in separate solutions.


I really like giving talks. It is a bit frustrating to come up with new material every time and only use it once, as you don't get the opportunity to retrofit what you learnt from presenting it once. Hopefully that will change as I get new speaking opportunities.