Today was the first day of the Rocky Mountain Oracle Users Group (RMOUG) Training Days 2011 regular sessions (there were half-day University Sessions yesterday with a much smaller overall participation level for these focused presentations). It was announced at lunch that this is the twentieth edition of RMOUG Training Days. They asked who was attending for the first time (a small number of hands responded to this), who had attended at least three times (greater number of hands raised), and who had attended five times, ten times, fifteen times, and all twenty times. Of the eight or so people at my table, at least four of us had attended more than ten editions of this conference. For me, this is my twelfth time attending and tenth year of presenting.
It is always satisfying to see a decent number of people show enough interest in a topic and provided abstract to attend one's presentation. Both my 90-minute Groovy presentation ("Groovier Java Scripting") and my 30-minute HTML5 presentation ("A First Look at HTML5") were relatively well attended with somewhere between 40 and 60 people in attendance in each.
There are three ways that I typically observe how interesting one of my presentations is to the general audience. The first is the obvious observation of what percentage of the audience is sleeping, obviously day dreaming, or otherwise obviously retreated to their happy place. I didn't seem to see any more people sleeping or fighting sleep than normal in either presentation and I didn't fall asleep, so things seemed to go well from that perspective.
The second measurement is the percentage of people who leave early. You can always expect a small number of people to leave as they realize a presentation or its topic is not what they were looking for or at the level they were looking for. This is especially true of longer presentations where people are more likely to abandon ship if they think they are in it for the long haul and just cannot stand the idea of that. There weren't many who left either presentation and I chose to stay the entire time, so I believe things also went well from this perspective.
The third measurement is the number and types of questions asked. I have been especially impressed with the insightful questions asked at RMOUG Training Days in recent years. These questions improve the overall value of the presentation because the answers either allow me to emphasize small points I made or thought I made or to cover points I had wanted to make but had forgotten to make. The content of the questions tells me if the audience is understanding the points I am trying to make. Today's questions in both sessions were all excellent and relative and implied to me that at least those asking the questions were hearing and understanding the implications of what I was talking about.
Both audiences at today's presentations of mine were outstanding and highly participative. Preparing for these presentations requires significant time and effort and it is more motivating for me to invest that time and energy when I have such great audiences who seem to appreciate the effort and who are actively involved. I learn much for preparing these presentations and that is a big motivator for doing so, but it is nice to feel that I may be contributing to the general good as well.
There were some changes in Training Days this year. One noticeable change was the different portion of the Colorado Convention Center in which the conference was held this year. Another change was no CD provided with presentations and papers (these are downloaded from RMOUG's Schedule Builder instead). I remember the years when we had voluminous bound books containing the white papers and it is interesting to see how far we've come.
Several other posts about RMOUG Training Days 2011 have started appearing. Kenneth Lee talks about a university session in RMOUG – First University Session. Shay Shmeltzer summarizes the presentations at Training Days 2011 related to Oracle ADF in the post ADF Sessions at RMOUG This Week. I expect to see at least a few more posts regarding this conference over the next few days.