Archive for September 28th, 2009

YAPC Speaker Feedback: Remote Controlled Volunteers

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This year I gave a talk called “Remote Controlled Volunteers” at both YAPC::EU and YAPC::NA.  Today I received official feedback from  YAPC::EU and two weeks ago I got the feedback from YAPC::NA.  This is the first time I have ever received formal feedback for speaking at a conference and I’m impressed that a volunteer is willing to put in this much effort for the speakers.

I was curious to see how similar the feedback for both conferences would be.  As I suspected the talk was better at the second conference.  (My average score out of 10 for overall presentation went from 8.80 to 9.23).  I didn’t do an exact count of the number of people at my talks but I think in both cases around 10% of the attendees have provided feedback.  This means that the results aren’t statistically significant.  They are interesting though and the written comments provide useful information on how to improve the talk.  Some of the comments also amused me, my favourite being:

speaker was confident and had no strange odors; laid bare the
problems with being a jerk in a volunteer community, which is
something people often need reminding of

I would love to receive the feedback sooner.  I tend to use a talk for one particular conference season.  This year that meant I was giving the talk at both YAPC::NA and YAPC::EUYAPC::NA took place on the 22nd – 24th June.  The surveys for YAPC::NA were kept open for responses until the 14th August by which stage YAPC::EU, which took place at the start of August, was already over.  I understand that people need to be given enough time to respond but I can’t imagine that much speaker feedback is given at that late stage.  I could be wrong but I know I would find it difficult to answer a survey on a talk more than a month after I had heard it.

Now that I have seen the feedback I’m going to make more of an effort to fill in speaker evaluation forms at next year’s YAPCs.  One other quick point about feedback.  After my talk in YAPC::NA, Miyagawa made a comment to me about my presentation materials.  He was very polite but basically he was telling me that I could do much better.  So it’s thanks to him and a crashed hard-drive (I lost the final version of the presentation) that my average score out of 10 for presentation materials went from 8.70 to 9.0!