The GestaltIT Tech Field Day event just wrapped up and it was a very interesting event. Stephen Foskett and Claire Chaplais did a phenomenal job at keeping the wheels on the bus. I realized that the attendees were just as critical as making the event a success above and beyond the vendors. I learned so much from others who either knew more or had different perspectives. The genesis of this list comes from the question I asked myself and other attendees constantly which was, “What can we do to get deeper than a standard technical presentation or trade show booth demo.”
1. Ask yourself what you want out of it – Remember, some of your attendees have never heard of you but many know some of your pitch already. Figure out what you want to get out of the event ahead of time and ask yourself if attendees will walk away talking about your presentations the way you wanted them to.
2. Cover the basics and then get into the weeds – We love the weeds. Some of us do anyway. It shows us you know what you’re talking about. It separates you from your competition. Tell us your strengths and weaknesses. We are more effective when we are armed with more information.
3. Bring your best people – You want to bring your best and brightest because there will be people (like me) who will grind into the details. 3Par and Ocarina brought their rockstars and it was apparent to each and every attendee. They knew their stuff and didn’t push questions aside.
4. Think and re-think your demo or hands-on labs – Some of the ones we experienced were great but others weren’t effective. Demos and labs that cover the basics *aren’t* always the best. People who are following the event will say, “I could’ve done that. Show me something new and different.” Remember, some of us love the CLI and others could care less. Make sure your activity will keep people engaged. Data Robotics did this very well but a big reason is because their technology is *different*. They understood how to deliver an experience much like Steve Jobs and Apple does. Their CEO even did a whiteboard of their technology and he got into the weeds.
5. There is never enough time – Almost all the vendors were a bit over schedule. Don’t try to cram too much in if it won’t fit or get a bigger timeslot. Many vendors had this happen but kudos to them for rolling right through.
Remember that you will get both good and bad feedback but being in tune with your audience is what matters. The rules above are not a guaranteed recipe for successful but they’ll give you a good start. They are universal and apply whenever you are pitching anything, not just during a Tech Field Day event. Stephen will be posting the videos of the sessions, watch them and learn from what worked and what didn’t.
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