Couple of weeks back, I was invited to provide a career talk on software testing at Don Bosco Institute of technology engineering college in Bangalore. I was sceptical initially since I had never talked in a college and I was not sure if I could even deliver it, but it sounded like a good challenge and so I accepted the invitation.
Friday was the day when I had to deliver the talk and I was occupied the whole week, Thursday I some how managed to leave early to home and was at home by 7:30 pm. luckily my wife was stuck at office and I had the whole house to shout and prepare for the next day session. When I sat down in front of my laptop I did not know where to start, the challenges in front of me were I could not use technical jargons, I cannot assume that they know testing, I cannot assume that they know software development process, what do I explain to them in software testing? How will I build rapport with the audience? Shall I crack some jokes? How will I face the professors, who I was sure would be pretty aged and experienced? Etc,
Loads of questions and I was looking for answers. I thought I shall reach out for Pradeep Soundararajan, my mentor, but decided against it since I felt I wanted to crack this challenge myself I am sure even Pradeep would be much happier to know how I cracked the challenge rather than seeking help from him.
I initially thought of developing slides to assist me in the presentation, but later ruled it out, and planned to prepare a checklist just for my mind. I did prepare a presentation of one slide with my blog address in it.
Friday, sharp 3:30 pm I was at Don Bosco campus and was thrilled to see my posters flashed on the compound walls, well, it made me nervous as well, the expectation I had set for myself raised higher. The overwhelming reception I got on the way to the seminar hall made me more nervous and the professors around me gave me a sort of look, may be because I am much younger.
I stood on the stage and saw more than 100 students looking at me, most of the stuff I planned and had made a checklist of looked like loosing its way. My first words to the audience “Hi All, this is the first time I am addressing such a big gathering, so my legs might shiver or I might miss/loose some words, but I might also get better as the time goes on”. Then I looked at the checklist, I felt I have to first engage the audience and thought the checklist I prepared the previous night might not work here in the same sequence.
My checklist asked me to talk about some of the History’s worst software bugs,but on the stage I did not feel like starting with it. I could hear noise from the back seats, and so I asked one of the students sitting at the back what his name was? He replied to my question nervously may be because everyone else were looking at him. I then came up with a scenario wherein Raju (name changed) had saved his pocket money for over 6 months to gift a mobile phone to his girl friend for valentines, now I felt I had more people listening to me. I went on “raju, the day before valentines walks to the store selects the mobile which he had done a lot of research on and gets it gift wrapped. On the 14th of Feb he gifts it to his girl, the girl so excited to see a big box, calls her friends over before she unwraps it, she unwraps the box, looks at the mobile and feels top of the world. She removes the mobile phone from the box, try powering it ON and what she hears a nasty noise which almost deafened her and her friend’s ears. – I asked raju how would you feel and I asked the audience how would they feel and this set the tone for my talk.
I was no longer nervous, I then put the same bug in a life critical context and then went on talking about the History’s worst software bugs and in turn justify why we need software testing.
I felt more confident with each minute rolling by and I felt I had more audience listening to me as the talk went on.
At the end of the session I was pretty happy that I could deliver a talk to 100+ students for approx 45 min, but what pleased me more was that there were questions from the audience both the professors and the students.
I liked questions like
- How much does a software tester earn?
- How can I become a software tester?
- Is only software tested?
But one question was fantastic
- How can you ensure that there will be no bugs after you test a product?
This experience taught me a lot of lessons.
- The first one is never hesitate to take on a new challenge; you might surprise yourself.
- Research and homework before a presentation is required, but one should be prepared to alter/modify the flow/content during the presentation if required.
- You feel confident on stage when you sense more audience is listening to you, so it’s very important to engage the audience.
- No slides for the presentation actually helped me, but I found the checklist very useful.