Last week, I was given the opportunity to be the MC for the inaugural Day of Rest conference. I have to say, it was a lot of fun and an interesting challenge to be on stage all day. I joked with some friends that it was my chance to be “All style and no substance” on stage, but in reality, I had to think about what I was going to do and had to improvise regularly. Here are some of my thoughts on the process.
- It’s important to communicate with the organizers throughout. Having a Slack channel is a must.
- The process at ADoR was four blocks of two talks with breaks in between each block. This mean that I was on stage twelve times with three main purposes for each one:
- At the start of a block, I had to get the audience in their seats and quite while also introducing the first speaker. It’s important to speak loud to bring people back to a quite level. It also helps if the first part of the introduction isn’t actually important since people will talk over you.
- In the middle of the block, I had to fill a brief period of time and introduce the next speaker. This block required the most improvisation. When I could tell one speaker was going to need an extra moment, I had the audience introduce themselves to the people sitting around them. I usually used an anecdote, jokes or broader lesson that was a continuing theme of the conference here.
- At the end of the block, I had to make sure the audience had the information they needed to have a good break such as the location of food, drinks and things around the venue. For this, I used a Slack channel with the main organizers so that anything they wanted announced got announced.
- It’s much easier to introduce people you know. I was lucky and knew every speaker (might be why I was given the honor of introducing everyone
). I tried to connect for at least a moment with each speaker so I knew how to pronounce names properly (important for everyone, including those that you worked with for multiple years)
- I’ve written before about conference introductions and how a good introduction establishes a speakers ethos. I tried to do that for each of the speakers. I wanted them all to be able to begin and get to the meat of the presentation without having to say who they were and why they should be respected.
- No one was there to hear me speak. I tried to be succinct, but I know it will take some work to get even better at that.
- The broader lessons I tried to highlight were the importance of getting to know people and that education comes from a variety of sources. Talks ranged from showing why the REST API is needed and is a game changer, to theoretical, realistic, and borderline insane demonstrations of what it could do, to case studies of practical examples of how it is being used right now. Connecting all of those with the idea that you can take away something from everything was important to me.
- I want to MC again. It was a blast and at least one person seemed to think I did an ok job.