Map Your Audience

On Twitter I saw the doubts about giving a talk about basic stuff. A person reacted that beginners need this information.

I agreed.
My reaction was that you need to pay attention to the  Zone of Proximity.

Rejected and reinvigorated

In the summer 2018 my proposal for a talk about testing and General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR was rejected by a test conference. A bit more tweaking.

This did not stop me to take this talk to the same conference. No speaker dropped out, so I turned it into a blog post serie.

Another opportunity opened for me. In the meantime I had gathered enough material for a workshop. My proposals for a workshop and a talk for the subject were turned down again. A little more patience.

It was April 2019. In Rotterdam a WordCamp was organised. This is a 1 day conference for WordPress users. There was a contest for an open slot, which I lost. Close, but honoured to lose.

In May 2019, I was notified that my workshop “A Lawful Thing To Test” was accepted by Agile Testing Days. Only 1 year to get my proposal right.

Lined and dotted

My reason for picking the beginner level was that I had studied GDPR for 1 and a half year. Another reason was that laws are uncommon ground for many testers.

A workshop or talk is great, if I do some practice rehearsals. So how did I find audience in the past?

For my rehearsals of a talk about a performance test I had 2 persons. That is not a lot.

Looking back a simple scale from unfamiliar with the project to familiar with the project might give enough feedback. This way
I got two dots at the end of the scale.
Scale from 'unfamiliar with project' to 'familiar with project' and two dots on the ends!
Another way to map these persons was looking at the experience with performance test. This results in the following graph.
Graph with a scale for 'experience performance test’, one dot at the beginning, and one dot at the middle!

For my rehearsals for my workshop about juggling and testing I had 5 people. Nowadays I would use a 2 dimensional mapping with two axes for juggling and testing.
A two dimensional graph with a horizontal axis ‘juggling’ and the vertical axis ‘testing’ with two dots in the left bottom, and three dots in the right bottom!

For my workshop about testing and GDPR a 2 dimensional map is enough.
A two dimensional graph with a horizontal axis ‘GDPR’ and the vertical axis ‘testing’ with one dot in the left bottom, one dot at the middle of the botton, and one dot in the middle!
I might add a 3rd axis with security testing.
A three dimensional graph with an axis ‘security testing’, an axis ‘GDPR’ and an axis ‘testing’!

But why should I ask experienced persons to test my workshop for beginners?

Told and sold

Suppose I would direct the movie Monsters Unlimited. Kids want to go and adults have to join. If there are only kids’ jokes, then parents would say:
“It takes 2 hours, but your kids have a great time.”

If I am smart, I would put in some jokes for grown-ups.
Advice could change to:
“This is a family movie.”

KYA or Know Your Audience is not difficult for a speaker.  My target audience for 1 talk was people unfamiliar with this subject. I asked, how many people had experience with performance testing.
I could not count the number of raised hands.

Brief panic.
Desperate joke:
“What are you doing here?”
I relaxed myself and continued.
I had intensively prepared myself for this.

This experience shaped my rehearsals.
My hands on workshop about testing and law is for beginner level and still experienced people might attend it. For all kinds of reasons.

  • Would you please accompany me to this workshop? You know about Exploratory Testing, so I can whisper some questions.
  • It is good for the group that we attend the same workshop. I know your expertise. Sorry, group first.
  • I have 3 years of experience with testing and GDPR. I might have missed something.
  • He writes good blog posts. I want to see him in real life.
  • He’s on Twitter.
  • He juggles.
  • Catan.

My challenge as a workshop leader is to provide information on 3 different levels:

  • If you see this, then you should do that.
  • If you use these patterns, you will find similar problems.
  • If you use this approach, then you can learn a lot more than now.

Finishing note

The Zone of Proximity is useful to let people grow in new jobs.