Breaking the ice in Testing Cup 2017

The adrenaline was rushing to my heart so heavily that I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I kept falling into drowsy mind flow, muscles relaxed, but heart just could not calm down. At around 4 AM birds started chirping outside, I still felt the heat wave, took a cold shower and kept trying to fall asleep. At 6 AM until 7 AM I managed to doze off a few 10 minute intervals and then it was time to get ready. The big day was here. June 9th, the conference day of Testing Cup 2017 where I was doing my first ever conference presentation. 

I was so honored and extremely excited to be invited to speak at Testing Cup 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. The greatest ever thing about Testing Cup is that testers can compete for it! How awesome is that? Teams/individuals participate in a testing competition and can prove themselves to be the best bug catchers! Such a great opportunity for testers in Poland! And take a look how the actual prizes look like:

I arrived on the afternoon of the 8th of June, so sadly, did not see the competition itself taking action, but could join the beach after-party which was an amazing experience! I took a train ride to Sopot (on the way I learned a good lesson about Polish trains – the ticket validation machines are on the train stops only, not on the trains themselves!) and after a walk on the beach I joined the Testing Cup participants & speakers in a bar on the beach. There were snacks, drinks, even a DJ and the fire show, and, of course, the most wonderful view with a special appearance of the rainbow:

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After the party, I went back to rest before the big day and here is where we get to the first paragraph of this post. Even if the night hadn’t been wonderful and I was worried, but one of the speakers told me when I asked if they are nervous “I was, for the first talk”, so I believe this is a natural feeling. The good part is that I didn’t feel sleepy at all and could listen actively because of the adrenaline rush.

I arrived to the venue to participate on the second day of the Testing Cup which was the conference day and I haven’t mentioned yet, but the whole competition was in a stadium! This was where we would relax during the breaks or just go to breathe some fresh air:

stadium

The fantastic part about the conference was that it had several tracks! One was purely in English, so I always had what to listen to. To name a few of many great presentations that day:

Andreas Faes talked about his experience of changing beliefs as a tester in his presentation “Losing my religion”. Andreas gave an overview of testing schools, told examples from his professional journey and shared great concepts about testing. I could relate to it so much!

Maria Kedemo delivered a great keynote on testability “Dimensions of Testability”. I cannot stress enough how I agree with the points she made because usually the most common obstacles we face as testers are testability issues.

Ben Simo (better known as “the bug magnet” or “a sort of skilled hacker”) gave a keynote called “An Incredible Mess”. It was one of the funniest talks I have ever seen. Ben shared his story about his experience with healthcare.gov website’s usage and the publicity that was caused by the bugs he reported to them.

And now… what the curious of you have been waiting for – how did my talk go?

I think in general the talk itself went fine, I delivered the content and didn’t feel nervous, but all my nerves went away partially because slides.com just went black once I started the presentation! Even if before we did a tech check (I wanted to make sure it works as I had an iframe which prevented me from using other presentation options then) – all worked well then. However, once I started we had to interrupt the presentation a couple of times and change the laptop (which was not ready for presentation and got some meeting pop-ups!) I think I faced one of the biggest technical problems speaker can get all together, so this just gave me the attitude that – the worst may have happened, so I should just continue and deliver the message the best I can! After the presentation, I really felt like the ice has been broken and the speaker’s words about the first presentation being the hardest were more than truth – it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be!

In the end, even if I wasn’t too happy about technical issues and got my lessons learned (slides.com never again and always have back-ups!),  I really got inspired by the great feedback I got from the audience. This has shown me that it doesn’t matter even that my presentation had some glitches (of course would be better if it didn’t, but life happens!), people in the end came to hear the content! Nothing can be more rewarding to a speaker than to get a message like this:

And I must say, Testing Cup’s audience was so nice! People were smiling, patient and supportive. Once I went to deliver my talk and saw people’s supportive eyes shining with curiosity, I knew that I am in a safe place!

Huge thanks to the wonderful organizers of Testing Cup and the amazing participants. Also, thanks to my colleagues for sending encouraging messages and believing in me from the very start. Lastly, enormous thanks to such a magical community of testers in social media who are always there to support you and are so welcoming to new speakers!

The ice has been broken. I am ready to speak again!

 

Fail Better in 2017: Story of Unaccepted Conference Speaker

It’s that time of the year again: Christmas, relatives, and, a great opportunity to reflect on the past year. I have decided to write about one of the important lessons I had a chance to experience: failing to succeed as a conference speaker.

It is not as drastic as it sounds like – I never actually tried it before, so I just did not get accepted. However, I somehow thought that it will be easier, but everything takes time. After attending several conferences, I thought I have something to share that is really important and should be heard about: I wrote my first abstract and started applying to the testing conferences. You can as well find some tips on how I started this journey in my previous post:  Where to start if you want to be a speaker.

I failed to get accepted to around 5 conferences.

When I got the first reject, I tried to rationalize it: its lineup actually ended up having the majority of men with more than 20 years of experience. Not that I have anything against experienced professionals who tend to be men, but I felt that maybe organizers were not ready to believe that there are more good female speakers even if they don’t have many years of experience. This calmed me down a bit and I started thinking that maybe this is just a matter of external conditions and coincidences.

After a few more rejects, I realized something: there are many reasons why you may not be accepted and don’t let it bring you down. Keep trying.

Sometimes reasons may be actually your topic: maybe conference is interested in a different kind of talk, other times it could be that there are just more stronger and better candidates than you.

A great thing to do is to actually ask why your talk did not get accepted. I did ask for it in all my rejects, but to be honest, I received the letter back only in one of the cases, however, I really appreciated it. The feedback letter explained situation and gave me some information that I couldn’t see: there were more than a 100 candidates and even if my topic was nice, but this year there were some other topics that got prioritized.

So, I started thinking, that if my topic gets overbeated by some stronger topics, maybe I should start thinking of a stronger topic, too. Something that would not get rejected easily.

All the “No” answers actually motivated me to work harder and try again maybe in a different way. So, the advice for this year (my favorite quote ever and in general the motto of my life which I use way too often) is:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Happy 2017! Don’t be afraid to fail – it will make you better.