21 April 2011

Convergence 2011: A Peek Behind the Eval Curtain

In the past I’ve given some small looks at what goes on behind the scenes at Convergence. I’m not nearly involved enough for all the massive pieces around a keynote or scheduling but there are some fun things I can share. So let’s talk about speaker evaluations.

All the speakers get evaluated and then measured both within their track (GP, AX, CRM, etc.) and against the other tracks. Only sessions with 10 or more evaluations get compared. As speakers we get to see it all and yes, we’re competitive. This is really good for attendees because we always try to be better so you get better sessions.(I keep asking for a t-shirt cannon. Sigh…Maybe next year)

Yes, Dave and Mariano and I go at it, in fun, and often our scores are crazy close, 1/100th of point close over more than 100 evaluations each.

Going up against Dave and Mariano is great. They are great presenters and they deliver terrific sessions. It can be a little frustrating when you have more than 200 evaluations for a session and you get beaten by 1/100th of a point by someone with 11 evaluations. But hey, we know that’s the way it works going in. It’s also frustrating when someone gives you straight 1’s (extremely dissatisfied) without an explanation. Did they goof? Did you insult their mother? Were they expecting Lady Gaga? Who knows.

The most fun comes from the comments. I read every comment that people make and all comments are anonymous. That’s where enhancements like version numbers for the tips came from this year. Usually people make great comments like:

  • Microsoft really needs to hire Mark Polino, he is hands down the best evangelist for the GP product. Got many time saving tips to put into production immediately.
  • Mark Polino is simply the best presenter with his combination of impressive knowledge and his enthusiasm that takes a dull subject and injects fun into it.

These are the kinds of tips that I show to my wife…over and over again. She explains that I’m still lucky to have married her rather than the other way around. She’s right of course.

Sometimes you get some odd comments. I know that my sessions are fast. I present better that way. I try to make this very clear in the session names, descriptions and very early in the presentations. So I’m perplexed when I get comments like:

  • Not enough details, too fast paced
  • He talked way too fast and it all seemed to blend together.

In fairness these are rare comments, outliers and I rarely adjust the presentation for them. You can’t please everyone. Most comments are extremely complimentary. However, there are always a few that I just don’t understand like:

  • session was not effective (and then gives 4 stars (satisfied) across the board.)
  • i did NOT attend this session

So why did you comment again?

And then there is my absolute favorite from Convergence 2011:

  • Presentor was very obnoxious

Yes! I’ve succeeded! I want to be obnoxious about Dynamics GP. I’m fine with that. Maybe if I’m obnoxious enough more folks will take GP to the next level!

So that’s what’s is like as a presenter, nervous about the presentation, relief that it’s done, then nervous about the evaluations. Relief when they look good, nervous that Dave and Mariano will beat you.

Right now, I’ve got a session in the top 10 overall sandwiched between 2 of David and Mariano’s sessions. I’m leading them in presenter effectiveness at number 3 overall by 1/100th of a point. In both cases we’re getting beaten on overall scores by sessions with much lower attendance and significantly fewer evaluations returned. Part of that is just the price of popular sessions.

It’s not too late to go to MSConvergence.com and rate the sessions that you attended. You’ve got about a week left. It is too late to get  your witty comments into this blog post.

Thank you to everyone who attended my sessions and an even bigger thank you to the almost 50% who have submitted evaluations. You make Convergence better.

To the guy who asked a support question in the comments: No, I don’t believe that there is a way to put a SOP line item on hold with putting the whole document on hold. See, I told you that I read all of the comments.