Nov 192013
 November 19, 2013  Posted by at 9:25 pm Not So Stupid Questions  Add comments

A few days ago I was told that a session I thought I had delivered really well had gotten bad scores. Actually, shit scores. Bottom of the list. Now I know many say, ‘the scores don’t mean anything’ and ‘if you don’t piss somebody of you haven’t done something right’. Some speakers don’t even read evals, maybe because its uncomfortable, they don’t care, or whatever reason. I always do. Tickets can be so expensive, and I want to feel like I give something of value, and it’s so easy to fall in love with your own idea that you don’t see that the pace is too fast, too much content, not engaging, no key message, and so on. And some conferences won’t invite you back if you get bad evaluations. I wish more speakers would talk about their scores openly, but I guess it seems very personal and naked to do so. This has been my very first year speaking at conferences, and I’ve had up and downs. I decided after that email to take a scrutinizing look at my sessions and evaluate how what I expected to what I got compare. And most important, what did I learn? The information is 100 % honest, hope it’s good for something.

To compare scores I’ve decided to try to convert scores to the same scale – to a 10 scale. Obviously that’s a hard thing to do and here are the rules I’ve used for the red-green-yellow scoring system. If you can think of a better way/algorithm let me know.

If equal of each color: Red= 3, Yellow=6, Green=8
If more red cards: Red= 0, Yellow=4, Green=7
If more yellow cards: Red= 3, Yellow=6, Green=7
If more green cards: Red= 3, Yellow=6, Green=10

If just two equal the lowest weighing card color wins.

5 scale is: score * 2
9 scale is: score / 9 * 10

My scores for 11 conferences that I have evals for:


My average is therefore (and I’ll work really hard to improve this one!):


I’ve learned that (when talking about ‘feeling’ scores):




  • 45% of the time I guess within 10% of the actual score
  • When guessing wrong I’m 67% more likely to guess lower scores
  • When I guess on lower scores they deviate by 53%

Agile Development Conference (Keynote) 2013
Becoming a developer from day one
Size approx.: 400-500?
Score: 9.2 / 10
Felt: 8-9 / 10
Off by: + 9 %
I dropped the slides and only showed a few pictures, and talked from my heart without a script. I used my normal voice and body language, no props, no tricks and no show. Session was recorded, but I didn’t care. I’ve never believed my own key message more, and the only thing I cared about was reaching out to at least one person.
This is probably what works best for me. Less planning (but a lot of rehearsing so I don’t just babble), less focus on the show, and spending more time on the key message using personal stories and a few personal visual clues.

Better Software 2013
Build better software by building better developers and testers
Size approx.: 50
Score N/A yet, will get them soon
Felt: 7-8 / 10
Originally this session was to be delivered by me and another speaker that was unable to do so. We had however synced well, and I was confident in delivering his part. The audience was very different from what I have had before, both in demographics and what they do.
Eye contact is magic, and connecting with the audience. I’m curious about the scores.

Öredev 2013
Advanced WP8 for the child at heart
Size approx.: 45?
Score: 15 green cards, 15 yellow cards, no red cards
Felt: 25 green, 5 yellow, no red
Calculated score: 6.5
Calculated ‘felt score’: 9.3
Off by: – 43 %
I had prepared quite the setup for this session and covered more than I did at NDC on the same topic. I used external speakers and a big microphone, and also had stage props.
Learned:I covered too much and the session was speedy although it had a good pace. It just didn’t allow for response from the audience. The props took some of the focus, and I should have covered less but in more details inviting the audience to discuss the features.

Sommarkollo Microsoft half-day seminar 2013
Portable Class Libraries
Felt: 5 / 9
Score 8.2 / 9
Converted score: 9.11
Converted ‘felt score’: 5.55
Off by: + 39%
Visual Studio crashed at the end, and there was no point in getting my other laptop up so I used notepad for the rest of the code examples. Turned out well and didn’t stress me. I was worried that 4 hours would be too much, how can I talk about PCL that long? Turned out to be perfect, we had time for questions and some extra examples.
Having plenty of time to cover code and questions is awesome.

Norwegian Developer Conference 2013
Advanced WP8
Size approx.: 50
Score: 17 green cards, 5 yellow cards, no red
Felt: 10 green, 10 yellow
Calculated score: 9.1
Calculated ‘felt score’: 6.5
Off by: + 29%
I wasn’t terrible confident about my session and very nervous about being filmed, so I thought it went worse than it did since people were so silent (typical Scandinavians).
Confidence in delivery without being cocky is important, and the audience doesn’t have to be responsive to like the session.

Norwegian Developer Conference 2013
Live Coding: The Windows Store Apps Showdown C# vs JS
Size approx..: 100
Felt: 70 red
Score: 27 green cards, 32 yellow cards, 11 red cards
Calculated score: 5.1
Calculated ‘felt score’: 0
Off by: + 100%
Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Computer crashed, lost my snippets, lost confidence and started speaking to fast and to aggressively. I was super stressed about the session being recorded and the unusual setup of the room (I could not see the attendees). As soon as the session started and the problems started I just wanted to get of the stage.
Lesson learned:
Although I had prepared well, I should have kept my cool. I also failed to answer the main question, which technology to choose.

DevSum 2013
Live Coding: The Windows Store Apps Showdown C# vs JS
Size approx.: 45?
Felt: 4 / 5
Score: 2
Calculated score: 4
Calculated ‘felt score’: 8
Off by: – 100%
The session felt good, and I was quite happy with it. I had many positive tweets and good responses. I decided last minute to not have any slides, removing those I had used at TechDays, and only code.
I believe the topic just wasn’t good and I didn’t really answer the question in the title. Even though code and pace is good, it all falls apart if you don’t give that aha’ moments and answers to questions/the question. It’s interesting that the same session scored well at TechDays, and I got a score of 2 on both how it was presented and how it met expectations. I’ve never had poor scores on my presentation style before- and I’m not sure why.

TechDays 2013– Belgium
Live Coding: The Windows Store Apps Showdown C# vs JS
Size approx.: 250?
Felt: 4 / 5
Score: 3.8 / 5
Calculated score: 7.8
Calculated ‘felt score’: 8
Off by: – 3%
I was happy with the session- although a bit nervous. Session was recorded for Channel 9 and that was a bit intimidating. And earlier session I had done for 1000 students had gone well, but I had bluescreened twice due to problems with my laptop. I remember thinking a lot about that.
Bring second laptop, and prepare as much as possible so you don’t have to worry about that.

TechDays 2013– Nederland
WinRT for iOS developers
Size approx.: 60
Felt: 4 / 9
Score: 7 / 9
Calculated score: 7.7
Calculated ‘felt score’: 4.45
Off by: + 42%
I didn’t feel confident during this session- iOS at a MS event felt strange.

TechDays 2013– Nederland
Live Coding: The Windows Store Apps Showdown C# vs JS
Size approx.: 250?
Felt: 7 / 9
Score: 7 / 9
Calculated score: 7.7
Calculated ‘felt score’: 7.7
Off by: 0%
I was happy with the session

Öredev 2012
N00b developers
Size approx.: 150
Felt: All green
Score: All green (ran out of green cards- room was over overfilled)
Calculated score: 10
Calculated ‘felt score’: 10
Off by: 0%
Smooth session that I had planned well and rehearsed. I did use props a lot, and hoped it wouldn’t be too much.
Props- when used well- are appreciated.

DevReach 2012
WPF, SL and WinRT – my three friends
Size approx.: 150
Felt: 4.5 / 5
Score: 4.5 / 5
Calculated score: 9
Calculated ‘felt score’: 9
Off by: 0 %
My first session ever, I was terrified!
This is fun, and I can do this. Maybe I should do this again?

Sessions with no evals or not mentioned above (as I had to limit this blogpost)

  • Edge conference 2013
  • Evry symposium 2013
  • Scandev 2013
  • NForum 2012
  • Codesse (Skype) Sweden 2013
  • Mediateknikdagarne 2013
  • Telerik sseminar x2
  • UK UG tour
  • And sessions at schools and universities, UG and mini-conferences.

  2 Responses to “Measuring up – conference scores for my first year speaking, comparing what I expected to what I actually got (Q258-261)”

  1. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!
    One quick question though: On the Live coding event at Techday2013 Nederland you wrote as a comment that you were happy with it. But gave yourself a 7/9. Does it need to be another subject for you to give yourself higher or why did you choose 7?

  2. I just ran across this blog entry a few minutes ago; I though it was very interesting!

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