We had a meeting last week that was half aimed at developers and half aimed at testers. The meeting went well and the developer half of the talk was going as expected. Then the test part of the meeting started. When that happened, the testers in the room – about half the participants- really got involved and starting asking a TON of questions almost immediately.
I’ve seen this before and was not surprised. If you give any talk to a room full of testers, you had better prepare yourself for the inevitable deluge of questions. Remember, testers can’t (or won’t) assume anything is true until proven true. And if you make a claim that "all" of a product can be treated the same way for some given purpose, you can rest assured that a tester in the room will know the one case in which this statement is not true. There’s nothing wrong with this – in fact, I typically enjoy the questions since I learn from them as well as the speaker. It’s also reassuring to see that the same questions I have are being raised by other teams. It helps to validate the testing methodology that we use in OneNote.
It does make for longer meetings that can get derailed early in the presentation, though. Fortunately, the tester giving the meeting was well prepared and managed to get through the important points. Some people I work with call this "The first slide effect" and jokingly refer to testers asking so many questions on the first slide of a meeting (or topic) that everyone tends to get stuck on "testing" the content of that first slide. It must be pretty fun to watch if you are not a tester.
I guess I will add a new rule to my meeting rule – when speaking to testers, ask them to "Hold all questions to the end." I say this jokingly, of course. But it will remind me now and then that testers have a different mentality, and they will question any assumptions I make that cannot be proven. Maybe I could clearly delimit the facts and assumptions I make in a presentation? That would let everyone know what is provably true and what is supposition and therefore subject to more questions. This idea actually sounds pretty good :).
I hope this doesn’t sound like a ramble. It’s just an aspect of the testing mentality and how it crops up now and then. If you have never talked to a room full of testers, you may be surprised with the volume of questions you can get – be prepared.
Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,