TestExpo – a reflection

I was invited to speak at the Unicom TestExpo conference on Tuesday 31st October at a hotel in Heathrow. I’ve spoken at a number of different events, and I have worked with Unicom before, so knew what to expect.

The day started with everyone together, before breaking into three streams after lunch – Agile, Test and DevOps. It’s a little odd when the big room is half empty as people have moved away to other areas, but it seemed to work ok somehow, although I noticed that people tended to gather at either end of the room, and the middle was a bit empty.

There were some good talks – obviously there were sales based ones, as is to be expected, but I sat with Mark Winteringham (Software Testing Clinic) and got to see his talk on the Automated Acceptance Testing Paradox, followed by Mark Fewster discussing whether Equivalence Partitioning and Boundary Value Analysis were old hat or not. I have to say that I derived more value from these talks than the sales ones, but that is to be expected to a degree, unless you attend an event specifically to find a tool to solve a problem.

My talk was the last of the day, at 5pm, and I was aware that I was the last person standing between the attendees and the drinks reception – no pressure then! My talk was around the Core Competencies of a Good Tester, something I want to expand on in the future (maybe in a small book at some point). I was aware that whilst we had 2 screens showing the slides, I was in the middle, so I needed to walk up and down the stage to make sure that the people at each end of the room felt included, so apologies to anyone who thought I had issues standing still – it was deliberate!

Without giving too much away, I delivered the talk, asked questions to get responses (to keep people engaged), got a few laughs too, which is always a good sign, and at the end had 4 questions from audience members. Now this can seem scary – you don’t know what someone will ask, and you are on the spot, but thankfully I felt that the answers I gave were of some benefit.

It did make me think though in terms of how I see the value in what I deliver, given the preparation time and a day out of the office. One lady particularly had a question, which continued as a conversation with Mark Winteringham and myself afterwards, as she was struggling to make her voice heard as a tester in her team. It reminded me why I set up a global QA Chapter in my organisation, so that testers who felt isolated could talk to others for help. She was so relieved to find that this was not about her – it can be a common theme, and it was at that point that I realised that the value was right there in front of me. Even if just one person got something from my talk, then it was worth it. If I have helped just one person to feel less alone, and to give some guidance and support, then it was worth it.

After the event, and next day too, I received some positive feedback as to how useful the session was, and I want to thank everyone who responded. Gaining feedback helps me to become a better speaker, and to remind me why I am doing so.

This will spur me on to do further talks, and look for ways to give something back to others working within technology. So, if you are reading this, and are stuck with something then reach out, either to me, or to a testing community. There are many out there.

As I said in a previous post – the testing community is such a friendly and helpful one, and I am glad to be apart of it.

 

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