This month I had the opportunity to fulfill one of my goals for 2014 by presenting to the Triangle .NET User group. This was a fun night with some great interaction.
However, I learned a valuable lesson. No matter how much you prepare, there will always be something unexpected.
I always record my presentations. I do this for several reasons. First, it gives me the ability to share with the community and benefit those who can’t attend an event. Secondly, I use them to learn and improve my own presentation style and skill. Watching myself, getting over-sensitive about my verbal tics (you know?), and seeing how I interact with the audience are all things that help me get better as a speaker.
This event was no different – I’d gotten to the venue early, made sure all my slides and demos were in order, and checked Camtasia to make sure recording would work on the projector (every venue is different.) Everything was in order. I felt great. I was ready to go.
The first half of the presentation was going smooth. I felt like I was hitting all my key points, and was getting good questions and comments from the audience.
Then I took a question I shouldn’t have. I tried to say “let’s come back to this afterwards” but somehow I got persuaded to diverge from my flow. And then I went to set a breakpoint in the demo code so we could see what was happening. I did something I do dozens of times a day while coding. But this wasn’t a normal coding session. In this case, pressing F9 to set that breakpoint in Visual Studio did more than I expected. I didn’t catch it in the moment.
Visual Studio never got that F9 keypress, because Camtasia intercepted it. And did exactly what it was set to do. It stopped recording.
I went on with the rest of my presentation, still feeling good, still interacting with the audience, still hitting all my points and nailing my demos. But it wasn’t recorded.
After the meeting that night, I was at home, reviewing the video of the session. And then it just went black. I realized immediately what had happened. I may have said a few words in frustration. I was deeply disappointed.
Eventually I composed myself and realized the teachable moment I had before me. The opportunity to encourage others to check for the unexpected hiccup in their preparation. To remind others and myself that the best laid plans still are vulnerable to mishaps.
It reminded me of something I try to teach my children – that sometimes we learn best through our mistakes.
So here is the first 47 minutes of my presentation that night. I trust that even in its abbreviated form, there is value in the content. But be assured, next time, Camtasia won’t listen to any hotkeys.