Thursday, April 09, 2009

On Speaking ...

Web 2.0 was fantastic. I really enjoyed the talk, the audience was blooming wonderful and the conference exceptional. I was also overwhelmed by the audience that turned up to my talk at SYS-CON.

I was even described by a couple of people as a "presentation rockstar" - wow, thanks but unfortunately wrong.

I love speaking and I'll admit that I do a fairly reasonable job of it these days. It's such an honour and a pleasure to speak to my peers but it's a lot of hard work and physically draining. For your average 40 minute talk, you're talking 120 hours+ of solid work. Whilst, I normally mash-up one talk to the next, each modified version still takes 35+ hours to prepare. On top of this you can often add the agony of flights (12 hours+ in a cramped environment is my favourite), the fog of jetlag and all the usual exhaustion which goes with it.

However, it's all worth it just to hear a few people say how much they enjoyed the talk or how it helped them. Speaking is an opportunity to give something back and it's a delight to do so.

Unfortunately, I'm lousy at self promotion and hence I find it difficult to break into new conferences. If I was a "presentation rockstar" then it would be a different matter. This is why I often speak at the same conferences because at least I'm a known quantity.

So, I'm going to ask you for help. There's a conference coming up about cloud and I'm trying to convince the organisers that I can present, that I know my stuff and that I've been speaking about clouds (or what we used to call utility computing) & open source for a long time. This is not an easy task because I'm a relative unknown compared to many "cloud superstars". I need to convince them that I can really speak on this subject.

Hence, I'm asking you, if you've ever heard me speak, can you leave a comment about how you found the talk (good or bad) so I can at least say ... "this is what the community thinks".



Dan Zambonini said...

I heard you speak in Cardiff last year, and I've never seen such a perfectly structured and delivered talk. My colleague also saw you talk at FOWA in London the year before, and said you were the best of the show - considering there were also presentations from Facebook, Wordpress, Microsoft and others, that speaks volumes. No pun intended.

evangineer said...

Fast-moving, lively, humourous, entertaining, information-dense presentation backed by a thoughtful, inquiring & knowledgeable mind.

That was my experience of Simon's talk at Open Tech 2008. He's been doing cloud stuff almost longer than anyone, it was only due to bad corporate decisionmaking that his service didn't come to market long before Google App Engine & other such PaaS offerings.

Doug Neal said...

What is important about Simon is not just that he is an excellent and engaging speaker who utters memorable lines. What is really important is that his view on the role of open source and the interoperability need for cloud sucess is correct and heads to be heard. He has had this view, consistently, for along time. And, now, with his position at Canonical, he is well situated to make Ubuntu/Eucalyptus/Amazon interoperability a reality.

Any conference that refuses to let Simon speak is missing out on the future.

Unknown said...


I saw one of your talks at FoWA a few years back now and I can say it was a clearly insightful overview of the industry at that time and your predictions are coming true.

The presentation style you used there I have since seen many times and I can understand why, it gets the point across very well. Your content and overall vision was very clearly put across while still keeping everyone excited, even desperate to see the next slide.

If I would be very lucky to see you talk again and I wish you the best of luck at your next talk which I am sure they will eat up once they realise just how good you are :D

Take care.

Aurélien Pelletier said...

I saw you at Web2.0 expo in Berlin 2 years ago, still remember your talk. The best of the whole conference, no doubt.

I also watch when you publish a presentation on the web and I know that your talk just get better with time.

You are one of the few people able to explain in a convincing manner not only what is the cloud but also the why and how of utility computing.

Unknown said...

I saw Simon speak at the Web 2.0 Expo this year. It was a distinct pleasure - he explained with crystal clarity topics that are often murky and vague. He did this not only with fabulous logic and clever dialog, but also an engaging and vibrant slide deck.

As someone who also speaks on these topics (I also spoke at the Expo), I now consider Simon to be the gold standard.

Jonathan said...

Saw Simon talk at FOWA last year, and found it one of the most interesting out of a great programme. It's not often you feel like a presenter is talking on a intelligent, intellectual level and is really stretching your brain.
Simon's presentation was great as I felt like I'd had to think, and was learning something - that's very rare on the web conference circuit. You'd be lucky to have him at your conference!

Joe Baguley said...

I aspire to having the same dedication to kittens as you.

As someone who is passionate about making presentations interesting and engaging, I really appreciate seeing you speak.

I was once told that good presenting is not far removed from stand-up-comedy...

In addition to a passion for good presenting you have a passion about your subject which shows through.

To anyone thinking about whether or not to use Simon to present, stop thinking and start begging him to come...

John Greenaway said...

I saw Simon speak at the <head> web conference in 2008, on open software and innovation/commoditisation. This put cloud computing in a wider context excellently.

Considering the conference had over 70 speakers, Simon's was one of the most innovative & memorable.

Any future conference I'd make sure to catch the stream he was in.

Nick Barker said...

I've seen and heard Simon present on several occasions over the last two years. Simon is many things all at the same time. He is controversial, he's provocative. he's challenging, he's logical, he's entertaining and he's philosophical. He's Simon Wardley!

As for the Cloud - he's passionate, in-touch and knowledgeable. The Cloud Computing has been appearing for the last 50 or so years ( Now is the time not to sit on the fence. The time is right for the big shift to happen. And Simon is part of it. Are you?



Gina Blaber said...

Simon's recent talk at Web2 Expo SF was excellent. Well-informed, lively, skilled at providing context, engages your brain. Not to mention a wonderful sense of humor. Have to agree with Doug's comment: "Any conference that refuses to let Simon speak is missing out on the future."

Unknown said...

Hi Simon, heard you speak at the first London Cloud Camp last year. Inspiring, entertaining and informed talk, and the high point of a very fine evening

Unknown said...

Simon, I have had the pleasure of seeing you present at 3 different cloud events in the last year. CloudCamp London and Powered by Cloud stand out as highlights.

Your presentations are vivid, thought-provoking, well researched and highly entertaining. Having presented at a couple of the same events, you make the rest of us look like enthusiastic amateurs, presentation-wise. You would make a great key-note speaker for any cloud based event.

Unknown said...

I heard you speak at FOWA 2007 before the mainstream press was talking "the buzz" about cloud computing. Very interesting, entertaining, and ducks are great. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your talk went well!

As you know, I've had the pleasure of both being a guinea pig for some of your talks, and of being part of the audience when you deliver them. So I know how much effort you put into them, and I get to see how that pays off!

I think you've got a great way of conveying big ideas - you make them interesting to learn about, easy to understand. Your sense of humour has always got the audience chuckling (if not rolling in their chairs laughing!), which really helps to get people's attention.

I still remember the way you first described utility computing several years ago when we were working hard on Zimki... likening it to the electrical grid, and describing the process of commoditization and the need for open standards... Your ideas are catchy, and the imagery you use in your presentations make them all the more memorable. All in all, you're an inspiring presenter.

If the organizers need any more convincing, tell them to look at how long you've been blogging about cloud computing (I make that Wednesday, March 15, 2006), as well as the responses & conversations that have spun off, and they'll soon realize that you know what you're talking about.

swardley said...

Thank you all for these kind words, this is very much appreciated and it means a lot to me. Thank you.

Hi Steve, yes, I've been blogging about open source and utility computing on this blog for three years. But, then there was my blog beforehand - now defunct - and all the conversations we had at Fotango.

It's amazing to think that Libapi (the predecessor to Zimki) was started in 2005.

As Artur recently reminded me, we had a virtualised dynamic environment and a provisioning system (known as The Borg) back around 2004 and my own work on commoditisation dates back much earlier.

Of course, we should never forget that these ideas all stem from the work done in the 1960s / 1970s by Mcarthy and others.

Martin Koser said...

Simon, sorry I am late to the party but let me add some kind words too.

I heard you presenting at the last Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT in Hanover. And I really enjoyed your talk, not only was it done in a very lively way (one can see the big time effort you're putting into the preparation) but you also conveyed the ideas very thorough and made them stick with the audience.

Besides, you are my personal reference for all things "cloud" and utility (I guess you know the other guy I cherish ...)

mastermark said...

If Simon is not a "cloud superstar", then there are none, quite frankly. Certainly all of those other "superstars" secretly want to be like Simon. In fact, a good litmus test (and one that I often use) of the extent of someone else's knowledge and understanding of the cloud is to ask "Do you like Simon Wardley's stuff?"

If they answer "no, but..." I can at least usually have the pleasure of a satisfying argument. If they have no idea who Simon *is*, OTOH (as appears to be the case, by implication, for the organisers of this conference Simon would like to speak at), then I know instantly that they are poseurs.

Marshall said...

I heard Simon talk at the Cloud Computing Conference in New York a couple of weeks ago. He packs in a lot of information in a 30min presentation and does it in such a informative and fun way.

I'll definitely watch another of his presentations.

Good luck with finding new conferences to present at.


Andrew Fogg said...

Simon is an excellent speaker. I first saw him speak at Ryan Carson's Future of Web Design a couple of years ago and I have since met him in person.

His approach to his subject is always principled and evidence-based and his style of presentation is accessible and humorous while also being full of intellectual subtlety.

I recommend! :-)

bobheuman said...

I particularly like the way you weave historical references into your stories. Too often people get the idea that the latest buzz word (cloud?) is something no one has ever thought of before. I like the way you put things like that into historical context.