So where is this "left field" that things come out of?

One of the risks of delivering technical presentations - or, for that matter, in just about any channel where you interact with customers - is that people are going to judge you. They'll make judgements about you, good or bad, based on their perceptions and their own personalities, likes, values, experience, etc. I've come to terms with that and have witnessed it over and over through the comments that people leave on my evaluations at the MSDN Events I present. Some people love my "corny" jokes for example and some people hate them. Fair enough. I can understand both perceptions.

The salient point here is that usually all the judgements seem reasonable and you can understand what they've witnessed that drove them towards the conclusions they made, even though you don't feel that way yourself.

Then, there's left field. You know, as in "that comment came from left field". I think I was near left field this past week when I was in Pearl, Mississippi . One of my co-workers who was at that event with me last week got an email from his attendee that said this:

Just a quick note - your sessions yesterday were really great - presentation and content - excellent!!! Sometimes I wonder how anyone "competes" with Microsoft - then I met the guy who was working with you - I think he was at registration - and then he came in when you were initially telling your background....any way - after meeting him - I understand why other companies are still in business - just so they don't have to work with guys like him - I wish I remembered his name - any way - work on these guys - they do give the competition a chance.

I was the "guy working with you". Granted, this wasn't sent to me but to my coworker, but he forwarded it on to me. So what the heck am I supposed to do with something like that??? I don't think the person was even in my session. And what is my co-worker supposed to "work on" with me?

Fortunately for my self-esteem, later the same day I got this feedback in an email:

I just wanted to drop you a line tell you I thought the presentation was great. Before the event I knew of CardSpace but I thought it was really something I didn't care about; I was sort of under the "CardSpace == The New Passport." I feel like I got a great overview out of it and think it has a lot of promise. Apparently, Novell is implementing an Identity Selector for Linux. I've had some ideas of implementing CardSpace with a couple SharePoint solutions. Anyway, just wanted to tell you I enjoyed it; my partner went to the TS2 event and wasn't happy but I think your's was very informative.

I guess that one came out of right field. What do you think?

Comments (2)
  1. Steve Stewart says:

    Glen, That "Out of Left Field" comment makes no sense to me.  I saw your presentation in Atlanta and was surprised at how through it was, and how good you are in front of a crowd, even when some of the questions are from a more hostile "Why didn’t MS think of this?" point of view.  

    I’ve got no clue what that person was going on about, but Evangelists like you are what make being a "Microsoft Developer" so fun.



  2. Jim Duffy says:

    Glen, Glen, Glen… as someone who has done his fair share of developer conference, user group, and training class sessions over years I can TOTALLY understand your confusion on that "out of left field" review.

    I too have had my share of negative reviews but my hands-down, all-time favorite negative conference session evaluation started with "Speaker is obviously full of himself", he went on to slam me and the session and then ended up with "I could tell how arrogant he is just be the way he walks down the hall."  That my friend is raw talent! How many people do you know who can walk arrogantly???? Obviously I can!!! 🙂  BTW, the rest of the evals for that session were all very positive.

    Take my advice, don’t let that one "out of left field" eval get to you and NEVER learn how to walk arrogantly!! 🙂


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