The first edition of a conference is always a risk. It’s a risk for the organizers because they don’t know who will show up or how everything will play out. And it’s a risk for the attendees and speakers, who have no way of knowing how well-organized the conference will be.
The first MADExpo conference (for the record “MAD” stands for Mid-Atlantic Developers) took lace June 30 and July 1 in Hampton, VA and it was anything but a disappointment.
The first win was the venue: The Hampton Roads Convention Center was an excellent facility, providing plenty of rooms for presentations and lots of open areas for networking with other developers.
The second win was the opening keynote. Jeff Prosise of Wintellect did not talk about software. Instead he shared his hobby – flying remote-controlled jets. The passion he feels for this hobby transferred into his talk and he kept the audience engaged. Ultimately, he brought it back to software by recommending that we all apply our passion to whatever we do – whether it is flying jets or writing software.
The third win was the presentations: Speakers came from all over the eastern half of the US to provide talks on a wide variety of topics. With eight choices in each time slot, it was often difficult to choose between several appealing topics. During several time slots, I spent a few minutes in different sessions to get a taste of the topic and the speaker. On Day 2, I saw two sessions: Bullets Kill People: A Presenter's Guide to Better Slides, and Jessica Moss’s How to Increase Report Development Productivity in SSRS.
Jay’s presentation - Bullets Kill People: A Presenter's Guide to Better Slides - was one of the best I’ve seen. If you do any public presentations that involve slides, I recommend Jay’s talk. Key points: minimize extra distractions on your slides; keep the text text large enough to read; Don’t provide all content in your slides; Slides should guide the presentations, rather than repeat it.
Jessica is a very polished and enthusiastic presenter and showed an educational walkthrough of SSRS. Her presentation ended early and she was kind enough to use the time to appear on my show – Technology and Friends.
The fourth win was the people. This conference was well outside my region, so I had a chance to meet many new people in the software developer community. I love seeing what others are working on and finding out what’s going on in communities around the country. I managed to convince a few of the attendees and speakers to record Technology and Friends interviews, which more than made up for the small number of sessions I attended.
Saturday morning, I had breakfast with conference organizers Steve Bodnar, G Andrew Duthie and Steve Presley. They were already making plans for MADExpo 2012.
Photos of MADExpo 2011