Category Archives: Speaking

Tweaking My Workshop Accessibility

During the Speakers Dinner of Agile Testing Days 2019 I told Abby Bangser about my attempts to make my workshop accessible.
“It is even possible to add alternative text to images in PowerPoint. If you click on the image, there are several tabs. One tab contains Alternative text. [ … ]

Don’t forget the exclamation mark (!). The screen reader will read it differently.”

Tobias Geyer, another speaker, was confused. I saw him thinking: “Alternative to what?”
I told him about a screen reader which could read information aloud to people. This is handy for people with a visual impairment. Alternative text is used on web sites to add more information to pictures.

If the presentation would be downloadable at the beginning of the presentation, then attendees would be able to hear the information on the slides.

Blind review

Some people state that a blind review is the best one. The reviewer is not distracted by the looks of the speaker or the beauty of the pictures.

One of my reviewers was blind, so I really needed to speak well. Without the use of my slides it was difficult to tell a story. The main feedback was no clear structure.

So I added a mind map which gave a proper view of the workshop. This was really appreciated by the next reviewer.

For the exercises I had already tested the website with a screen reader. Once again it was time for the real thing.

My blind reviewer went through the website without any delay. The reading speed was so high, that it looked like a normal person was skimming the webpages. The feedback was almost instantaneous.

It was strange for me to hear, that bugs were found by clicking around. Navigation was on hearing. My test website passed the accessibility test.

Sound advice

The Friday before Agile Testing Days I had a talk with someone with a bad hearing. I told about my workshop. How should I speak to people who cannot hear well?

“What would be your best advice?”
“Ask whether people can hear you.
It is a professional thing you can do:
“Can you hear me?”

What also helpful is, are pictures. Next to key words on the slides.” This way a talk could be reconstructed, if words would be missed.

Somehow I lost sight on my slides.

I told about the handheld microphones seen on one of the pictures. Most of the time I put it in front of my mouth.
“It can be lowered. The quality will not decrease much, but people are able to see your mouth.” Lip reading for the win.

In the days before the workshop I focused on big fonts on my slides and my cards. I increased the contrast between the text and the background.

What could go wrong?

What went wrong?

I completely forgot to ask the audience whether they could hear me. Where was my checklist?
I had none.
Oh.

The most embarrassing part of the downloadable stuff was, that there were no files on the promised location at the start of my workshop.
Big oops from my side.

After this painful discovery I repeated all the steps: I went to my github and uploaded my presentation. This time I scrolled down. A commit button?! I forgot to press it.

Github is git in the cloud. It can be used to store different versions of files. I still wrestle with it. As Janet Gregory stated in her talk it is about deliberate practice. I had only practiced once. In my case I had cut one corner too many.

Days after my workshop I checked the alternative text in the pdf file of my presentation on my laptop. I double clicked the file and the file was opened in my browser.

The text of the slide was told aloud by the screen reader. I hovered above a picture. Not a sound. I was also silent.

Last weekend I did another attempt to get some sound of a picture. I double clicked the file on my PC and Acrobat reader opened the file.

I searched a picture and placed my mouse pointer on it. A hover text was shown and read aloud. That’s what I liked to hear.

So Acrobat reader can handle alternative text of pictures, but my favourite browser not. And I had not made Acrobat reader a requisite for the workshop. A bit late, but alternative text can be used.

What went right?

I maximised pictures. Leaving out irrelevant parts from the slides.

In the right top corner of the slides I used small pictures to show the state of the test session.

During my preparation I looked at the presentation. There were no spots shining on the screen, so the contrast was good.

During the demo part I used a headset microphone. Attendees could hear me and I could talk at a normal volume. Most important is the fact, that the small microphone did not hide my mouth.

Warning: Code of Conduct ahead

On November 5th I gave a workshop about Exploratory Testing and General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is an European privacy law.

Need

In the past I wrote about the Code of Conduct. A good set of rules will ensure the safety of the delegates, the speakers, and the organisers of a conference. When enforced.

Therefore I was keen to adhere to this Code. The more diverse people at a conference, the more perspectives being shared. A new perspective is not always out of the box thinking, but natural for some people.

A woman looks different to privacy than a man.

Now I had a dilemma: I had a workshop about privacy. If a name and address would become public, then unpleasant things could happen to certain people.

I remembered a conversation with a white man not realising the consequences of a data breach. So I shared a story with him. It had some impact on him.

But this same trick would have a bad impact on women present in my workshop. So I would not stick to the Code of Conduct.

Imagine being removed from the conference as a speaker. Not good. At all.

Contact

It was time for me to mail to Uwe Gelfrich, my contact at the conference. I made a brutal honest warning like:
the workshop contains situations about violence and harassment.

In this way I could still talk about certain situations. Because people were warned in advance.

Uwe replied thoughtfully: violence and harassment would not be used in the workshop. And he proposed a warning along the following lines:
the workshop may contain situations about violence and harassment.

I agreed.
The warning was set on my abstract on the website.

And I would not use a rant.

Attention

During the preparation of my workshop I read a tweet about an anxiety attack of a delegate on a conference. According to me this person was angered about the vague content warning.

I reacted with the following tweet:
“During Global Diversity CFP Day this year I heard about trigger warnings for the first time.

So I did my homework.

I contacted the conference about a suitable and specific warning. It is on my abstract. It will be shown before and right after the start. I will tell it.”

Start

On the day of my workshop I tweeted about the warning. It was retweeted by Agile Testing Days.

During the arrival of the delegates I regularly switched between the workshop title slide and the warning slide.

After the opening I gave a warning and an explicit permission to leave the room. I would not be offended. Then I waited about 20 seconds before continuing.

So this looked like an inclusive opening of my workshop.

Actually no.
I missed some accessibility items which will be covered in the next blog post. Reads like a pretty cliff-hanger.

Change

On the Women and Allies evening a delegate told about a talk with HR. If colleagues would not behave themselves, then they would probably be removed from conferences because of the Code of Conduct.

Bonus Workshop Preparation Stage

Some thoughts:
“Are you really ready for your Agile Testing Days workshop?”
“No. Slides need to be updated. There are concept handouts. I still need to tweak.”
“So what is that bonus stage?”

Dreadful stage

The Bonus Workshop Preparation sSage starts after the dreadful stage, the stage without progress.

Progress can be measured in number of sheets or number of the exercises. I prefer the number of usable ideas for attendees. Customer centric. Sounds Agile to me.

2 weeks before my holiday I was in the dreadful stage. One of my website exercises became smaller instead of bigger. I used all tricks to get a baseline, but I failed.

I realised that I had to step back. The only solution I had was to fall back on an older version of the software. Within a few days I had a better solution.

Bonus stage

Another way to determine the bonus stage is the feedback of my reviewers.

My basic question: were they engaged?
My observation: yes.

I paid attention to words and the way they were pronounced. I looked at the body language. Most important: did they learn something?

What would I more include in my workshop?

  • an one pager
  • list of extra resources
  • a mind map
  • visual clues for exercises

“You can always change your workshop.”
My wife

Proper stage name

Last weekend I talked about my workshop with one of my kids. I told that one reviewer and I missed an obvious bug in the website. I was amused.

I told about some jokes how to illustrate my points. We had a good laugh about it.

The bonus part is also the fun part. The part which will make a workshop good or great.

Workshop Mind Maps

Can I make a mind map for a 2  hour workshop?
Nope.

First set

Over a few months I have to give a long workshop about European privacy laws and Exploratory Testing. Sometimes it is tempting to put all the information in one extra extra extra large mind map.

Giving me a disappointing delay in processing information.
Forget it.

Wait. I use several mind maps.

Yes. That is more comfortable.

In this blog post I will show titles of mind maps to prepare myself for my workshop at Agile Testing Days.

It took me months to make these mind maps. This is my way to collect more information than I would be able to share.

This gives me enough space to tailor the workshop on the spot.
Did you ever tried to entertain people for 20 minutes?
I will have to teach people for 2 hours.
Good luck. To me.

Why do I share information about my mind maps?
It will give the delegates some hints what I will tell.
I also want to share my preparation with newbie speakers.

Another reason is to attract more diverse speakers on stage. Preparations is like taking small steps.

There are even sessions for speaking at the same conference.

So what are you waiting for?

In order to avoid boredom I just select a few mind maps for a small introduction.

T
There is no way to predict the people in my audience. So I made a lot of categories. Next to the beginners, I have exercises for experienced testers, testers using tools, and managers.

An experienced tester knows what a dataflow test is. Now I also have to explain this to a manager. But I come back later to DiSSS.

Second set

The framework of my workshop is in the  file ‘Talk Lawful Thing to test 1c’. If this sounds strange to you, I completely understand you. It started as a talk and grew to a workshop.

After a while I could not add new perspectives. So I made some other mind maps.

Resources are things you can use after my workshop. This part seems relatively simple. I only had to put in some good resources in it. I made this exercise challenging for myself by adding information written by women.

A good opening or intro of the workshop sets the atmosphere for the coming hours. If I will casually tell something to complete strangers at the beginning of the workshop, it is because I rehearsed it more than 100 times.

Up till now I could not find a shortcut.
Rinse and repeat.

Third set

Tim Ferris has a never ending serie of experiments.

Yes, I made a typo in the file name. And for me it is about speed.

A mind map with central object Lawful thing – Ferris which has branches DiSSS, Jokes, and CaFE. The branch DiSSS has sub branches Deconstruct, Selection, Sequence, and Stakes. The sub branch café has sub branches  Compression, Frequency, and Encoding.

Tim developed some acronyms like DiSSS.

  • Deconstruction is the first action to understand how people perform tasks.
  • Selection is the second task to select which techniques have the most impact.
  • Sequence: what is the best order of actions?
  • Stakes: what’s in it for me?

CaFE

  • Compression: how can I compress the information on 1 page?
  • Frequency: how often should I do it to become good?
  • Encoding: what is a good way to encode the information? Like CaFE.

Is it possible to use these acronyms for GDPR testing?
I think so.
The dataflow test is a good candidate for Selection.
I wrote you I would come back to DiSSS.

The first test session needs extra attention from my side.
During my workshop there are several sessions during which delegates are going to test. Hands on is different from watching. It is like a tennis game with everyone on the tennis court.
And I am the referee.

The mind map ‘20190528 add Lawful thing’ contains information I still need to process.

A workshop is like work.

Speaking matters

In this blog post I share my latest progress on my speaking.
One of my reasons is to get more diverse speakers on stage.

The making and the scale of my mind maps might intimidate newbie speakers.

What I left out, is my adding of nodes in the mind maps over time. This could be days apart.

What I left out, is the long study.
If I add 1 branch to a mind map every day, I have a mind map of 365 branches after a year. I started in the summer of 2018.

If I go in more details, the more branches I will add on a single day.

A talk takes time.

Continuous Pitch Of Proposals

During the break I asked Mykola Gurov:
“Do you speak at Agile Testing Days?”
Yes.”
Me too.
“What are you talking about?”
“Exploratory Testing and GDPR.”
“That is hot.”

That thing called feedback

If I want to talk on a conference, then I have to submit a summary of my talk with other relevant information like email address and name.

An important thing for making a good proposal is feedback. For my first pitch of my workshop I got a clear mail. No clarification or feedback would be given on my failed attempt.

I was not really interested in a discussion, but only in some points to improve.

Mail me more.
(On the notes of “Tell me more” of Summer Nights)

One conference gave me a ray of hope for a related talk:
GDPR is important.
Bless you.

Another conference gave me specific feedback:
what are you exactly going to do during the workshop?
That is rather useful.

Feedback on diverse proposals

This year the Global Diversity Call for Papers Day held a workshop in Amsterdam. And there were many other places all over the world. This organisation really wanted to increase the number of diverse speakers.

During the workshop I gave my smartphone to one of the workshop leaders. She read my proposal and I started to talk.

Her response was: “I thought it was only about accessibility law.”

My initial plan was to talk about accessibility law and privacy law.
My workshop missed focus, so I dropped the accessibility law.

Another exercise was writing a profile. If a speaker has no interesting profile, delegates might skip his or her session. Or worse the proposal is not accepted at all.

The structure of the exercise was:

  • Tell about myself to 2 other people.
  • Write a profile including myself.
  • Listen to all profiles.
  • Collect the profiles for later use.

Feedback on structure

Within a month I spoke two men who had experience with teaching. I told about Stephen Covey who wrote several books about leadership.

He was able to convey his ideas to a lot of people at the same time. Above all he kept them involved.

Then I described the structure of my workshop and they loved it.

Feedback by rehearsals

Pitching is fine, catching is great.

When I needed people to practice my workshop, I said:
“It is about GDPR and testing.”

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.

We need to speak. Let’s talk.

Especially, if you want to speak at a conference in 2019.

My New Year’s resolution is to speak at one conference. But it takes a lot of actions from my side.

This year I tweeted about sketch notes for a workshop. This triggered me to write this post about using visual tools in 3 acts.

Ready? Set. Read.

Act 1

A conference does not need a complete presentation in advance. So this is a huge time saver. Call it a lifehack.
Serious. Hack.

I always look at the theme of the conference. Most of the times this leads to 2 proposals. A proposal is a summary of something.

Something is what I am mulling about in my brains. I only have to put it in a mindmap.

There are several structures. A favourite one is an experience report. STAR is rather useful:

  • Situation
  • Tasks
  • Actions
  • Result

Once I was a test coordinator and I was requested to execute a performance test. I hired a performance tester. The website could handle the load properly, but the web masters had to cope with long delays. So I opted for a hybrid approach: a computer for a load test on the website and human testers acting as webmasters.
The result were acceptable response times.

Another way is to address nagging questions. This could lead to a presentation about exploratory testing and regulations.

What about this pitch?
I used Exploratory Testing in the healthcare domain. My tests passed audits in 2 consecutive years.
Pretty cool.

A nice workshop is based on exercises. No sweat no gain.

Structure is something like 1 exercise per hour including setup, doing and reflection.

I always go to the submission form and find all questions in advance. While submitting I prefer copy and paste. I copy the text in the note of a branch in a mindmap and I paste the text in the answer in the submission form. I try to avoid situations like ‘That will take another hour to answer this question properly’.

Most proposals have the following elements:

  • Info about speaker including speaking experience
  • Description
  • Summary
  • Takeaways

Okay time for a visual tool. Enter the mindmap.

For more details just click on the pic(ture).

Mindmap with branches exercises, title, and English alternative
In case you noticed some Dutch words, it is my mother language. So I translated some words in English. For the record this proposal was accepted after more than 2 years.

At the office I worked with TDD. This lead to this mindmap.

Mindmap with branches timeline, setting, references,termen, summary, description, metadata, and Oud

The description. summary, and takeaways are shown in blue and bold. I wrote a lot of thoughts in the branches. This proposal was rejected several times, so I turned this in a blog post serie.

This year General Data Protection Regulation needed a bit of exposure.
A mindmap with the branches activity A, test ideeeen, Zelf, Reported website, mailings, purchase X, purchase Y. and Blad
This proposal was not accepted and also this one was transformed in a blog post serie.

This minimal mindmap was a remake of other mindmaps.
A mindmap with the branches Exercises, Proposal, and Writing
It took me several attempts to get my workshop for blogging accepted for a test conference.

Act 2

The last years I use a lined notebook to make sketchnotes. It is my way to be creative in a visual way. I feel like a Merry Potter.


“A lot of people think you can only use a laptop to write blog posts. Well, this picture shows my tools I use for blogging. And yes, marker and paper have impact on my writing. Sometimes I have to rewrite whole sections.”

Music notes followed by ‘Spotify iTunes”. “MUSIC” has an arrow with “?” pointing to “Blogs”.
“Would you please raise your hand, if you use Spotify or iTunes?
Thank you. As expected most people listen to these services.
Personally I think music is important.
I see people nodding.
Question: why do you not use music in your blog posts?”

"Getting in the flow " followed by a curly lined arrow. "movement" pointing to a typewriter with "Type" and a pen with "write".!
“One of the difficult things with blogging is paralysis. What is my first section, first sentence, or my first word? What I do, is start writing and get in a flow. Movement of the body also leads movement of my mind.”

"Finding" Picture of fish "Marlin"!
“When I blogged a post, I discovered the heuristic ‘Finding Marlin’ Marlin stands for ‘Make a real life impression now’”.

Readers recognise situations like conservations. I just describe what I see and hear.”

"Start" pointing to "0.1" and versa. The same for "Start" and "0.2". The same for "Start" and "0.3". Under picture "etc. Retell.”!

“A good story develops over time. The first time I write a story it is bland. It does not excite me. So I change a few words for more speed and flavour.”

“Meta Blogging”, followed by a rectangle pointing to a rectangle pointing to a cloud. There is also an arrow from the first rectangle to the cloud.!
“A blog post is something I put in the cloud. First I make a file. The text including markup instructions I copy to the cloud for multiple edits and  publication. I blogged about this process. The most left rectangle is the blog post about writing blog post and the resulting blog post. I call it meta blogging.”

A watch followed by "Time Traveling"!
“This trick is a nice one. In the blog post from 3 October 2016 I was really delighted to be invited to speak for my first workshop at an international test conference covering my travel and accommodation costs. The post contains:
‘The fun has started.’
It points to a tweet of 6 September 2016 with the text ‘Yes seriously’.

It looks like I did some time traveling: blogging in October, tweeting in September, and finishing blogging in October. I only wrote towards the tweet, that contained my punchline.”

Act 3

Most of the times I got ideas for pictures from my sketch notes. In order to avoid copyright issues I use my own pictures and sketch notes. Or ask and get permission.

While studying User Experience, I heard about a designer making 50 designs in 50 days. I really liked his work in Amsterdam.
As a Dutchman I am biased. Of course.

Back on course. He made a booklet for frequently asked questions. There were 4 categories with questions. In 2 steps an answer for question was likely to be found.

Now I had a writing exercise for a blogging workshop. Um. Wait, I could use a similar structure for this part.

4 quandrants containing a snail, signpost, someone looking up to a bar, and an empty thought balloon!

  • Snail  meaning “Slow”
  • Signpost meaning “Direction”
  • Empty thought balloon meaning “No idea”
  • Someone looking up to a bar meaning “Bar too high”

I made this nice obstacle map. Attendees could place a sticky note on the map. With 50 attendees I could get a quick overview.
Let’s get visual.

But how to keep up with a beamer? I had 20 mini presentations to handle questions.

Scrolling
is boring.

In my mindmap I placed links to presentations. My first version was solution driven.
Wait, how was I supposed to jump to solutions?
No idea.

I changed the solution to verification of the right context. What were the symptoms? I also would ask some additional questions. Nothing is worse to misinterpret a problem encountered. That is the moment my voice start to Rumble Or … I start to Fumble For …

OK time for a little demo:

A mindmap with branches "Direction", "No Idea", "Slow", and "Bar too high"!
Using the presentation mode only the speaker – that’s me – can see the mind map. I click on “Direction” and all subbranches are opened. Then I click on “How do I write this down? ” and my first slide is shown for the attendees.

TExt balloon containing "How do I write this down?"!

“So basically this is the question, what you are struggling with.”

A tweet showing a photo of "Perron 9 3/4" at Utrecht Central Station. It is overlapped by "Time for magic"!
“I took this picture at a Dutch railway station. ‘Perron 9 3/4’ can be translated to ‘Platform 9 3/4’. This seems impossible.
Writing a blog post looks like magic for a lot of people. Let me take this as a starting point.”

Eye and "Characters"!

“If you look to the books about Harry Potter, there are several characters. It is not all about a single hero. Every interaction adds to the story. If I write blog posts, I can use different views like the tester, the scrum master, or the manager.”

Disclaimer

This blog post does not offer 100% acceptance success of proposals. See act 1. Writing proposals and making talks take a lot of practice. And some visual tools really helped me.

BTW

if you are still hesitating to talk, please consider http://speaking-easy.com.

LS In Conf’rence Land

Greetings to the reader or Lectori Salutem.

Texting and talking about diversity

This spring I was invited to speak at a known Dutch test conference. I had a good proposal, so I only had to say: “Yes”. But I had to ponder this carefully. I had a public promise not to speak at a conference with an all male line up.

I also had obliged myself to say: “No”, if there were too few female speakers. Women look different at tech and they need female role models.

This year several male speakers declined to speak at a conference with an all male line up..

There was only one way to find out. Just ask the program committee. I texted my dilemma and asked for the number of female speakers. There were only 2 female speakers selected out of 3. Selection took place on quality of the presentations, theme, and target audience.

I got my dilemma back. Is 2 enough? Looking at the last conference it was an increase of 100% in the number of female speakers. But still it bugged me.

The only way for me to improve the diversity was to make suggestions for the keynote speakers. I texted 3 names of female speakers and subjects fitting to the theme. At the end of the same text message I also agreed to give a workshop.

When I saw the final version of the schedule, I could not suppress a smile on my face: one of my proposed keynote speaker candidates was a speaker with my suggested subject. Yes, mind reading is cool. And there was a female co keynote speaker.

During the conference I saw a tweet about testing of blockchain. There were two speakers and the female one could really explain it. That’s why diversity is so important. Just for the record the tweet was sent by an experienced male tester. And it was not me.

Continuing talking about diversity

Same test conference. There was a representative of a European test conference. One thing about the conf this size fits only 1. And I could not resist the urge to talk about diversity. The answer was of course quality. And the programme committee decided about the talks. Also the names of the submitters were not shown to the reviewers of the proposals.

I was not quite convincing. So the woman offered me her email address to send more information. So I sent information about Karoline Sczcur and a link to  A Balanced Conference Card. I received a polite Thank you.

So what went wrong?
Time for a retrospective. Yes it is an agile thing to do.

I had not prepared some talk. So here is the rebound.
As an organiser you can give guidelines to the programme committee. And you can reach out to female speakers in a positive way. Yes it takes time.

More important is to realise what is diversity about. People who think alike come with solutions alike. This means that these people will fall in the same pitfall.

Back to the conference. If there are a lot of white male speakers, then afterwards the attendees will make similar white male speaker errors. A female perspective can add a different and effective approach.

Also. What works for a white male engineer, might not work for a female engineer. A suggestion from her can easily be ignored or stolen. This can be avoided by using number 10 of survival tips for women in tech from Patricia Aas.

What really baffled me, was that lot of these tips also can be used by people of colour. As a man of colour I have to invest a considerable amount of time in finding and talking with allies. To get things tested.

In the Netherlands the campaign #NietGenoeg was started to get more women in tech.

Jez Humble tweeted about diversity in a refreshing way. You can only make good programs with empathy at the core.
“Empathy is _hard_. It means listening openly and deeply to people with very different perspectives, accepting the truth of those perspectives, questioning and changing your deepest assumptions about the world, and changing your behavior.”

Speaking at TestBash NL 2017

The bus was about to leave Utrecht. But TestBash was in Utrecht. I politely asked the bus driver about my bus stop again.

He put the blame on the broken system in his bus.
Seen that. Done that.
I had a workshop to prepare, mate.

Just a few things

A few weeks earlier.
With a rapid approaching workshop I tried to get a good picture of the room. Okay.

10 people would attend my workshop. I expected more. After digesting my disappointment I looked at the bright side: I could handle them.

Then slowly stress was getting me. On my shopping list for my workshop were a beamer and a screen. Huib mailed back: there is a screen. You do not need a projector.

So I repeated my request. The reply was to attach my laptop to the screen. I was puzzled. It took some time to realize it was a flatscreen.

As a speaker I was allowed to participate in a workshop. I selected Gitte’s in the afternoon.

Then I got curious: was there a way to get more information about the morning workshops including my own one? I clicked.

My workshop was sold out. Wow. Excuse me. Just had another look. My workshop was sold out. I freaked out.

Almost ready

Back to the workshop day.

After the scenic tour with the bus I involuntarily extended it. Using a public traffic app I located the street after some backtracking.

A short walk later I saw a place. Wrong place. The venue should be, where the foreigner with the small backpack was heading to.

He was out of sight. So …. I had passed a church. You’re kidding. Outside was a banner with a 7. The venue had a 7 in the name and it was situated at no 7. I entered the building and saw Rosie. Bingo.

I got my ninja sticker and was ready to prepare my workshop. Huib provided the paper, markers and stickies. And up we went.

He entered a lovely room. Ideal for a workshop: tables and chairs. Just, what I had in my mind.
“You have another room.”, Huib remarked.
Other pleasant thoughts about the room were immediately muted.

I ended in a small room with one big table. A door with a glass plate on top of it. Good enough for an agile tester.

There was a facility manager, which was quite convenient. “We’ve got HDMI.”, she proudly announced.

I showed her the side of my laptop. “I need VGA.” And off she went. Returning with some fancy connector.

Sound was also difficult. The line from the connector was too short. A box was brought up.

“Do you need something?”, the lady informed.
“I would like to have some coffee.”

I prefer to have my laptop in front of me, so I moved my laptop and the screen. After some shuffling I had my preferred position for my laptop on the big table.

Then this table became my next point of concern. 10 people would attend my workshop and I had only place for 9.

Big sigh followed by moving back all stuff in the old position.

“Do you need something?”, the lady informed.
“I would like to have some coffee.”

Already some attendees were present for half an hour. I apologised and continued with my preparation.

I got a glass of coffee from a member of my audience. Cheers mate.

At the end I connected the laptop to the screen and saw a black screen.

It was time to start the workshop after sending a HELP request to facility management.

Work hard shop

The atmosphere was a bit spoiled by moving all that stuff. I had partial fix by connecting my smartphone to the box. Hopefully the music had a calming effect on the audience.

So I started my workshop to talk about visual testing. Why I thought, it could use some attention from testers.

The facility manager came back. And solved the problem with plugging an USB connector.

I should have noted that connection. A photo was faster. Exploratory workshop preparation anyone?

Anyways my presentation was shown on screen.
Now I really could start.

Draw it again Sam

I used some tricks to get interaction with the attendees. Within 10 minutes I got verbal feedback on several questions.

Then it was time for the time out exercise. It was a tough one to do. Paper and stickies were scribbled upon with markers.

I saw people stopping and staring. I showed the next slide and explained the next step.

The advantage and disadvantage of a visual testing is, that I can notice progress in a few seconds.

“Take a new piece of paper and start again.”, I encouraged the attendees. People stretched their arms for the paper.

Some attendees started to scribble on the stickies. “Just take this post it as a starting point.”

After a few minutes the cycle of explaining and exploring restarted. Slowly the result ended in a state transistion diagram.

After showing the diagram I rattled off all missing elements in the model. Then I justified my choices.

On the flip chart I wrote YAGNI, You Ain’t Gonna Need It. This principle of XP, Extreme Programming, could also be used in testing. Why should I describe all details in my model, when it does not really add value?

Looking back I should have switched the time out exercises. Real life examples are pretty nasty.

There was a break after 1 and 1/2 hour and I just had finished the first hour presentation. 2 hours to squeeze.
I just entered the second hour presentation. I already skipped 2 exercises. This was going to be tight.

On the other hand Huib granted me extra time, because the lunch would take place in another workshop room.

After the break I started with another exercise. People used state transition diagrams and process diagrams. I was really happy, that they made a visual model.

During the last part of the workshop I focused on the most important parts of a new visual model. And I succeeded.

In the weeks before the workshop I memorised the mind maps of the hour presentation. I had looked to supporting stories and slides twice a day. It benefited me greatly.

San Francisco Depot or SFDIPOT

During my workshop I remembered, that test ideas could be found using SFDIPOT. This powerful heuristic almost cost me a quarter of an hour.
I just skipped the explanation: I wrote it on the flip chart – “Just search on SFDIPOT.” – and moved on.

That evening I had a talk and a few beers with Klaas. He also used it frequently in combination with FEW HICCUPPS.

FEW HICCUPPS is another heuristic.
Uhuh.
Should I use his advice?
Umm.
Does it count, that he is a world champion in testing?
Yeah… Probably.
Great, extra homework for me.

The next day I remembered that I had blogged about SFDIPOT. So I tweeted this to my followers:
mindfultester.com/a-test-fuga-on-2-a-flat-screens.

About connections

For one exercise I needed the Wifi. Every attendee needed only 20 kb. It was too much.

Huib had already mailed me several warnings: the wireless network was not fit for workshops.

Ofcourse I had taken measures: I made my smartphone a Wifi hotspot. Within minutes every attendee was on the web.

Later in my workshop the screen went black. One of the attendees pointed at the loose adaptor. By all the moves of my laptop I forgot something to connect. Oops.

I plugged my laptop to the electricity net. It was time for a Fieldstone. I had a small role playing game or RPG.
“If you are familiar with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, he looked like Mewt Scamander.” And I let the game begin..

After the RPG I saw the login screen. I switched back to presentation mode.

Gravity in action

The workshop had to be finished in an appropriate way. I still had so much tell. I picked the Fieldstone with the Pendulum.

A few weeks before the workshop Katrina had written about a pendulum. She used it to illustrate to find the optimal way of testing.

I could not find my props, so I used the mouse. On the flip chart I wrote too deep and too shallow.

With my left hand I held the tail of the mouse. The right one grabbed the mouse and rekeased it at “too deep”. The mouse moved in arc until it lost all its speed. This was the optimum for testing.

In testing a lot of words are used. The trick with visual testing is to find the right balance between no pictures and too many pictures.

During my preparation I remembered Nassim Taleb telling the essence of Antifragile standing on one leg. I had the feeling, that I had done the same.

Relax man

In my mind I was still fretting about the fact, that I had to skip exercises and stories.  When I met Jean-Paul, I told him:
“I have so much material.”

He looked at my backpack and a cilindrical case on my back:
“You always have.”
Or was he really thinking about information, that could be shared?
I don’t know.

Our conversation continued about the small things which improved the life as a speaker like an available presenter. A click on a button of this laser device shows the next slide.
Use the force. Push.

That thing about courage

In the workshop about courage Gitte gave me homework. “Write on a paper the first step of something you are going to do next week.” It was about something that would require courage.

I wrote on my paper: “Short”. I wanted to write a short blog in a few days. Normally it takes me weeks from Fieldstone to blog post. I could reduce that, but how …

The week after TestBash I wanted to write about meeting people. Was there a way to change my way of blogging?
I focused on what I wanted to share. It was basically the feelings and thoughts I had. There was no test knowledge I would share.

Was there a message I could share?
Yes. Meeting peers is great. Surprises are great. The test community is .. you got the message.

I started with a mind map. Then I added notes. I made a funny picture. I gained more and more speed.
The result was the previous blog post BTW.

Soon afterwards I started this blog post. All kinds of memories about my speaking experience at TestBash I put here. Piece by piece. Day by day.

Look who’s speaking

The conference day started a bit unusual for me.
“Welcome mister speaker”, Huib said, followed by a bow.
I tried to find a funny answer. That was difficult without coffee:
“Hello mister organiser”

The day before the conference day I was asked twice:
“Will you speak tomorrow?”
How did they recognise me?

So on the conf day I asked, whether the colour of my ninja badge had an extra meaning. E.g. Talk in black. Workshop in green. Silver for free beers. Etc. Actually there was no silver. Mind you.

There was no connection between colour and role however. Maybe a Chinese with a Dutch accent is associated with a speaker. Or people actually recognised me from the program. Or I was carrying simply too much stuff in a backpack and case on my back.

In a room filled with goodies I got my badge of honour, a T shirt with a golden Ninja.
“Now you are one of the Golden Guys.”
I hereby can confirm there is a connection between the golden ninja and the ministry of testing.

In the morning I remembered, that two attendees had asked me a strange questoon. So I twittered:
Attendee: “Do you give workshops for a living?”
Me:”No, I am a tester.”
#testbash
https://mobile.twitter.com/huibschoots/status/824536807442436096

In the afternoon other people started to like this tweet. Some of my testing muses did. For a short period I was energised and then drained afterwards.

Zone of what?

During one of the breaks on the conference day I had a talk with Marcel, who wore a sweater with the intimidating text:
“You cannot scare me. My wife has a PhD.”

I told him, that I was surprised about the progress during the exercises. I could solve exercises from my workshop within minutes.   He remarked, that it was all about the zone of proximity.

It is easier for me to transfer knowledge to someone, who has the same experience or only a few years experience less or more. She or he is in my zone of proximity.

This meant, that it would take me more time and effort to teach people, who have significant less experience in testing.

Within an hour I had a new follower on Twitter: a German guy, who had written a respectful blog post about the test pyramid. He looked somewhat familiar. And I had talked to him.

Look who’s speaking

A week after the announcement on the web I met Huib Schoots, the program chair. He asked:
“Did you see the program?”
“Yes, you were not on the list.”, I replied.

“I noticed, that Manon is on the list.”
“I encouraged her to submit.”, Huib admitted.

During the last break on the conference day I saw Manon sitting in the last row. So I informed about her workshop. We talked about tables and Wifi. Pieter and she had set up their own network. Another way to address a workshop risk. Jack in the box. Check.

After the break the audience was asked whether they had switched places. This conference was a way to meet other testers. I had moved from the front row to the back row.
Guilty as charged, Your Honour.

Thanks for the invitation Huib and Rosie.
And it all started here.

A musing post

Some readers might wonder about the fact that I tweeted Lisa. Yes, the Lisa from the testing books. And yes, Janet was the other author.

Was this a typical case about courage? Nope.

If you would ask me, that I would use Twitter 5 years ago, then my answer would be: “No way”.

Today Twitter is my way to get updates from the testing community.

I want to stress that my tweet to Lisa is not about ‘Don’t fear your peer’.

I just grew.

Is it possible to find new ways of testing in a tester infected country like the Netherlands? Sure.
But there are already so many test methodologies and specialists.
So what?

Hark! The testing muses sing
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

An artist gets her or his inspiration from a muse. Some readers might think about a person, whose mere presence brings music or words in her or his mind.

For testing there are other muses. Do they sing Mozart? I do not know.

A muse like Lisa tweets. She writes.

Hark! The testing muses write
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

At this moment one muse Katrina is writing a book. The announcement led to great excitement in the testing community. And she blogs.

Read the stuff the muses wrote
[On the melody of ‘Hark! The Herald angels sing’ ]

I read posts from Maaret, a rather influential one. I read posts and books from Elisabeth, Alan, and Jerry.

I just grew.

An Appendix to Visual Testing

Last weeks I read some blogs, which I will incorporate in my workshop at TestBash NL. As you might have read, it is about visual testing.

I combined my thoughts and experiences with the ideas from blogs of my testing muses.

Now I am in the editing phase for my workshop: figuring out some logic in my slides, creating mind maps for structure, and using insights from sketchnotes.

It was and is a wonderful journey. (Hark! The muses co-create.)
Thanks for the invitation, Rosie and Huib. Other testing muses indeed.

I just grew.