I have it at the back of my mind that whatever it is that I’m learning, I should be writing about my reflections.
What happens usually is that I’ve gotten into this ridiculous practice of responding to my own tweets to create a really long thread. This is my form of microblogging however, I could just whack open the WordPress site and put it directly in there.
Then, what happens is that I scramble around trying to figure out a way to save my thoughts such as alerting the ThreadReader app, or saving the tweets as a Moment or sharing them to my own Feedly boards (in case they get lost in the ether) that I think, “you’ve just spent needless time trying to save your tweets when you should have just blogged anyway!”
What have I been up to that I’ve not been blogging?
Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter
First things first, I’m amazed and honoured to find out that I was selected to be one of ten global community reporters for Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Florida this year.
I had submitted my application and my videos for selection and I made it! Then, just as quickly, I started to panic.
What do I know about the cloud, Azure, coding and tech development? Thing is, I don’t need to know the nitty gritty details. I need to ask the questions instead.
With over 45 days to go, behind the scenes, the community reporters are all communicating with each other through MS Teams and attending virtual meetings where we are being briefed of our upcoming roles.
The whole event which will have over 30 000 people in attendance, with over 1000 different workshops, presentations, events, meet ups, hands-on labs, exhibits, and so much more promises to be the premier event for any technical developer involved in Microsoft products and services. My role with my other 9 peers will be to promote the various sessions and undertaking interviews with the speakers as the event will be live streamed over the 4 days on the Microsoft Ignite YouTube Channel.
It’s going to be HUGE.
Learning New Things Means Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
Am I anxious about it? For sure! The thing is that I’m a relative newcomer to Microsoft.
I’ve had a steep learning curve learning Microsoft applications in the last year but I feel that my work prior to joining Adopt & Embrace with regards to learning new social technologies and an insatiable curiosity to learn, test, apply these in my work as a Learning Consultant has held me to good stead.
It means I have picked up the productivity and collaboration applications of Microsoft quickly because it was HOW I was working previously.
That is, my skills in these plus other media, curation, sense making and network building allowed me to jump in feet first and get up to speed relatively quickly with what I had to learn because the foundational skills of communication, creation, collaboration, curation, reflection, experimentation and networking were already there. To me, the people I see as my peers in community reporting are actually people who can help me further build a network and learn more about what’s happening in the world of Microsoft – and most importantly, how these will help transform organisations.
I don’t need to be an expert in all things Microsoft – I just need to have a desire to learn about it and be open to asking questions and giving things a go.
Without me knowing, my foray into creating video and presenting on camera started as a result of HATING public speaking. I thought that this would be a way to overcome my fear of speaking-out-loud in front of a crowd. To me, speaking in front of a camera is FAR easier than in front of a crowd whom I could see. However, my years of practice on camera I believe, has led me to today. That is, if I never started learning something new, never gave video creating a go, always hid my video work, didn’t share my videos and experiments out loud in public, I would never had his opportunity come to me.
That’s why I will always recommend to people that their best learning experience is one in which they get out of their COMFORT ZONE.
However, not just get out of their comfort zone but further add to this fear by sharing their process, reflections, experimentations, trials and failures PUBLICLY.
Many people fear ridicule or they may become concerned with the perception against their professionalism however, in my experience, it’s been the opposite.
Consistency is key here though – don’t just give it a go once, fail and then give up. Try it again and again and again.
Do something different every time – and each time share it out to the world.
Don’t worry about how you look, what you’re doing or even caring what people think. Over time, you’re going to see that you’ll improve.
My feedback now is when people say to me that my presence on camera is relaxed and informal and how different it was since they saw me at the beginning of my journey. That feedback means that my skills have improved.
My Tip to You
So if I have a lesson for people who want to do something different or start something new, it’s START DOING IT AND SHARE WHAT YOU’RE DOING PUBLICLY.
Start having conversations with people; be open to suggestions and feedback to improve initially (I say initially because you’re going to have every person who is NOT an expert in what you’re doing give you advice. Listen to it, but you don’t need to follow it).
Instead, over time, you’re going to see a pattern emerging. People WITH those skills you want to improve in will NOTICE you. They then will provide support, suggestions, advice, coaching or mentoring – these are the people who will improve your skills and take them to the next level.
With Microsoft Ignite, although I have done community reporting before (through LearningNow TV and also through the Royal Australian Navy when I was in the Public Relations Branch working with media units capturing and publishing stories of Naval personnel at sea and on exercises, one of the things that will be new to me will be LIVE STREAMING.
This is SCARY thing for me because unlike video creating, live streaming is all about THINKING ON YOUR FEET. You’re LIVE! There’s a completely new skill in being able to have the gift of the gab when the camera is rolling to the YouTube channel subscribers to keep it interesting without stuffing up. However, I’m going to take it all in my stride. I’ve seen and participated in enough live streams to realise it’s not about me – it’s about the viewers and the person I’m interviewing. As long as I can keep things rolling by a bit of banter, some questions and answer, seeking questions from the audience and being prepared, I think I’ll be okay.
What Am I Doing to Prepare?
Firstly, I’m asking a lot of people who have been there before and who have acted as community reporters for this event to provide me tips and to share what they did.
I’ve looked at different presentations on YouTube and listened out to the types of questions the reporters asked. Also I have this knack of listening out to what the speakers are saying then stopping the YouTube video and asking a question then playing it again to listen out to what the reporter asked. Now, this is not always a good thing because I’m LACKING CONTEXT. That is, if I was at the presentation and listened to some of it, I could pick up on themes and then weave these into the interview so that there’s links, themes and context for viewers and listeners. However, there’s no guarantee that I will have an opportunity to listen to all the peoples sessions I will interview so that it means I have to think on my feet with questions. That’s okay. I’m thinking always it’s a good place to start to get the other person to introduce themselves and their work; share the key points of their work and how it helps modern organisations today; how does it help IT and Managers in business; details about where their rollouts and more information.
If anything this will also teach me skills in hosting, presenting, interviewing and of course, thinking on my feet. I’m looking forward to being able to polish my presence on camera in such a way that I hope it inspires others – young and those of us more mature to do the same and be community reporters next year.
The need for diverse voices in tech – and indeed any work – is so needed today and I’d be delighted to share my own experiences with others if it helps them too.
Secondly, one of the other things that we’re all doing to prepare is to START CONVERSATIONS online and start networking with people so that we can spread the word about what’s happening at the event. This is why you’ll see me sharing tweets from #MSIgnite and indeed, I have changed my Twitter handle to reflect this. So those of you in Learning and Development, feel free to mute my tweets however, think about what it is I’m sharing because it’s likely that it will be relevant to your workers in your organisation today. If not, think about how some of the ways that learning and development is happening at this conference and how you can apply something similar. So use my tweets as examples and possible applications to try – even though you may not be going to the conference or even if you’re not tapped into what’s happening in the IT department of your organisation.
Thirdly, I’ve bought new camera equipment – I didn’t need to – but this was the impetus I needed to up my video creation skills. That could be a blog post for another time.
Fourthly, I’m preparing my computer (Surface Pro) and my iPhone with different assets such as jpegs for cover art, thumbnails etc. The more I have things ready, the more easily I’ll be able to streamline my work flow of interviewing, shooting, editing and publishing. I know I’m going to miss something in the process but we’ll see….
That’s it, this is what I’m doing so far to prepare – there’s a whole different piece there about learning how to use my new camera gear, the Canon G7x Mark III which I’m excited about. I’m now someone who is surrounded by video and audio gear, tripods, lighting and cables. I would NEVER have thought myself ever going down this path (many years ago, I saw myself as a blogger and a writer) but this fascination of being able to create little stories on video have been far more fun than I had ever imagined.