My Tech.Ed review scores…

One of the things that technical presenters always dread is reading their review scores and seeing that they got a bad review. I figured that my review scores would make good blog fodder and posting them would allow me to reflect on what I did well, and more importantly what I can improve on next time I present the same material.


First up is my PowerShell session (MGT304). In this session I presented on the next generation command shell from Microsoft which will be shipped to manage Exchange twelve.

I was actually presenting someone elses deck in this one so I wasn’t quite as comfortable as I normally am, and standing up in front of an audience of IT pros is not something that I normally do – and the review scores showed.

Out of the possible score of 9 I scored 6.7 which was the second lowest in the Windows Servier, Management and Operations track. What could I have done better?

Well, I think one of the things that I should have done was scrap the slide deck. Its not that there was anything wrong with it, but based on the comments I don’t think I was presenting it well. If it had been my own deck I would have been a lot more at home.

The second thing that I could have done was anticipate the audience a lot better. Going into the session I thought that I might get a 50/50 mix of developers and IT professionals, it turns out that developers really only represented about 15–25% of the audience and I think I made the mistake of making the session more approachable to that minority group.

Third, I think that I was light on demos. One of the beautiful things about PowerShell the flexibility you get from composing cmdlets to do common (and not-so-common) tasks. I think that I may have failed to demonstrate this aspect and just assumed that the audience “got it”.

Finally, as a developer, one of the things that facinates me about PowerShell is some of the syntax, the problem is that discussion of all this stuff is common in the developer community but not so much in the IT pro community – so I think that I may have been talking a foreign language in some parts.


Ouch! In this session on Concurrent Development with Branching in Team Foundation Server I scored sixth lowest in this session with 6.34. After the session I thought I had done reasonably well, but when I looked at the feedback I noticed a couple of stand out comments:

  1. My presentation skills are not really up to scratch for Tech.Ed (ouch!)
  2. Wanted to see more complete and full bodied demonstrations.
  3. I let the session get taken over by questions (was kind of intentional, but fair call).

I’ve presented at Tech.Ed a couple of times now and have generally had better reviews than this so I was a little bit surprised by the first piece of feedback. Having said that I was presenting more sessions this time, so it is possible that between this and the community project my preparation wasn’t as good as it normally is.

I completely agree about the demonstrations. What I was trying to show was concepts, so if there were some very experienced configuration managers in the audience a lot of this stuff would be second nature and boring to them. I think that the next time I do the session I will definately have a more complex code base and I will actually execute the scenarios that I mentioned rather than just talking about them – my only issue then will be fitting in the alotted time.

In order to get my presentation skills back up to scratch I’m going to take advantage of some training that we sometimes do at Readify to make sure that my preparation and delivery is as it should be. Hopefully I can do better next year if I am invited back.


This was a general TFS session that I presented with Joe Sango. It scored higher than my DEV303 and my MGT304 sessions at 6.61. The comments for this one were kind of all over the place but were mostly negative, I’ll try to summarise here:

  • I’m not a fluid presenter.
  • There was too much coding and filling in of work items on the fly.
  • They didn’t like the simplistic demonstration code and the tag team presentation style (sorry, this was my idea).
  • Too slow and shallow, and too much time on Agile vs. CMMI.

I need to sit down and think on how to present this session some more because we need to try to give an overview of the lifecycle of the project. I’m thinking that rather than trying to weave MSF Agile and CMMI into it Joe and I should have just focused on MSF Agile and done a little bit of role playing as we defined scenarios, tasks and bugs. I think that CMMI is so rarely used that its not even worth discussing.


This was my best session and was on extending Team Foundation Server. I scored 7.64 on this one – there were just five respondants and only two comments, both were positive. Having said that I would have liked to spend about ten minutes bashing out a fully featured sample rather than relying on preprepared code – but it seemed to work.

Maybe the second incredient was that I had Grant Holliday and Chris Burrows come up on stage and show people TFS Bug Snapper and TFS Integrator?

Next Steps

Well, this blog post is the first next step. I’ve acknowledged that I could do better, and even suggested some strategies for how, I’m going to go back over my session materials and see if I can structure a better one, and if I can I’m going to do a Camtasia of the session and publish it out there on the web.


6 thoughts on “My Tech.Ed review scores…

  1. Matthew

    Next year they really need to make the feedback forms on paper. You really need to fill them in there and then to have them be meaningful. I filled in a few online but couldn’t be bothered in the end…

  2. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Matthew,

    I agree. I actually wondered how much that scewed the results. Having said that I got the results back a lot faster this year than I have in previous years so that was nice.

  3. Tatham Oddie

    Hey Mitch,

    Where’d you get the scores from? I just had a poke around “Speaker Home” on CommNet and couldn’t find anything – it seemed I was still able to submit evaluation responses.

    Thanks, Tat

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