# Friday, June 15, 2012
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This week, at Tech Ed North America, I participated in something called "Speaker Idol".

Speaker Idol is a contest organized by Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin of .NET Rocks Fame. The contestants are speakers who have never spoken at Tech Ed before and the grand prize is an invitation to speak at Tech Ed next year. Each speaker delivers a 5-minute presentation and a panel of judges rates that presentation afterward.

I entered the contest and delivered a short talk on Data Visualization. The judges liked my presentation but made a number of suggestions about providing more real-world examples.

I won the first heat, which placed me in the finals. The competition in the finals was intimidating to say the least. There were three other contestants: Jeff Fritz (who was the runner-up in the first heat), Seth Juarez, and Jim Holmes. I only met Jeff this week, but I've seen Jim and Seth deliver many presentations and they are both excellent, so I knew I needed my A-game.

Fortunately, the judges liked the fact that I took their feedback and my finals presentation included some practical examples at the end of my presentation. One of the judges paid me a very high compliment, saying that he planned to change the way he did some things based on what he learned in my talk.

When it was over, I came in first place overall.

Speaking at a major contest like TechEd has been a personal goal for a long time, which made it gratifying. Having it happen among competition like that makes me suspect divine intervention was involved.

I'm very excited about this and I wanted to share it right away.

In a few days, I'll have a full brain dump on my experience  at Tech Ed North America.

A crown made by one of the judges