Q&A with an alumni speaker!
In this first installment of a series of chats with those that have previously taken the stage at the Service Management Conference – Paul Edwards kindly shares his speaking experience and tips.
Hi Paul! Please tell us a little about yourself – what is your area of expertise and what kind of Conference speaking experience do you have (if any)?
I’ve got a 25 year background in IT, ranging from duty programmer (the parent of help desk and the grandparent of service desk), managing Unix and VMS boxes, lecturing, running high performance computing and visualisation systems, IT Service Management consulting, strategic consulting, being an in-house consultant/troubleshooter in the financial services sector, mentor to various amazing people working in technology, being mentored by equally amazing people who work in technology, and most recently running projects and governance functions for cyber security in a big bank. Overall, I would say I am a people person rather than a technology person.
In terms of conference speaking experience, I’ve presented several times for the itSMFA, spoken at a number of other conferences (generally in the secondary and tertiary educations spaces), and spent many hours watching conference speakers and learning from all of them.
What would you say are the top benefits you gain from sharing your expertise and insights at a Conference as a speaker?
There are three big benefits:
- First, it really helps me refine my ideas (and in one memorable case, changing my idea 180 degrees!) Writing a white paper or Conference paper cannot be beaten as far as stress testing the topic you are talking about.
- Second, there’s a kind of intellectual endorphin rush I get from knowing that for the last 50-odd minutes, a group of people have walked away with some more knowledge, probably some interesting questions to explore if they are inclined to do so, and hopefully ideas on how to change the status quo.
- Finally, I’ve made some lifelong professional connections and friendships thorough people who have come up to me to talk / ask me / grill me about my session.
In the past, you joined the speaker line-up for the Service Management Conference via the anonymous submission system. Can you describe your experience with this process?
This was excellent. I found that the process meant that the reviewers were providing feedback, which in turn challenged me to make the presentation clearer and (I suspect) more successful. My paper went through four iterations once I had submitted it; almost every suggestion from the reviewers was valid, they challenged me to think more deeply about both the topic and how best to communicate the ideas, and ultimately ended up having me present a paper that was far better than the one I originally submitted.
How was your experience at the Conference overall as both a speaker and an attendee?
As a speaker: the full gamut of emotions. Will anyone come to see me speak? Oh good, there’s a few people. Oh dear, I must have made the abstract too persuasive, because the room is now full. And now there are people standing at the back because there are no seats left! I hope I will not be wasting their time! Uh oh, I’m getting introduced now. Up on stage. Hand grabbing my stomach from the inside. Got through the introduction OK. Getting into a rhythm now. This is great. What, there’s only five minutes left? Questions, answers, the session is over, but now more people want to talk to me. Let’s do it over a cuppa. Relief. Relax.
As an attendee: great fun. A range of interesting and challenging speakers. A range of interesting attendees. A chance to catch up with people I’ve not seen in years, and a chance to make new friends.
What was your favourite part of it the Conference experience? Can you share some standout moments?
I’m going to cheat and have two:
First, (and this is fairly generic): walking out of a talk, thinking, I can’t *wait* to try and do that. Or thinking: wow, I did not know that, and X is now really interesting and I should look into it more deeply.
Second, the people you meet.
Standout moments? Generally anything involving Peter Doherty in a bar.
What were the most important learnings you took away from the Conference experience?
For 2016: the Cynefin framework; Vinh Giang and breaking things down; Karen Ferris’ approach to picking the top three competencies in ITSM; learning that it is possible to become accredited as a Lego® Play facilitator (now on my bucket list).
What advice would you give someone looking to submit a proposal to the Service Management Conference this year?
Give it a go. The anonymous peer review system means that even if ultimately you do not get selected, you will mature your ideas. If you do get selected, it is a fabulous opportunity to develop your speaking skills, and add to your professional network.
Submissions to speak at Service Management 2017 close on Friday 12 May 2017 – find out more and submit a proposal here.