First User Group Presentation – Learning Points

On 8th July 2020 I spoke at my very first User Group, the virtual D365 UG Birmingham.

I’m a regular attendee at the Birmingham User Group, which is always well attended and this was no exception.  The User Group in Birmingham has an auspicious team behind it; Andrew Bibby, Neil Parkhurst, Craig Seymour, Imtiaz Hussain and Sophie Loor who are always very welcoming and supportive of new and existing members and speakers. 

At the User Group event, I was lucky to be able to co-present a session on the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) with Dawn Ripley, Programme Manager at the UK Ministry of Defence. 

It was the first time either of us had ever presented at a User Group, so it was slightly daunting for us both.  As the time grew closer to the start of our presentation, we could see people logging into Teams and our nerves grew … I stopped looking when we reached 60 people, but I believe we were nearing 70 people when we started to speak!

SAFe is a huge topic, and despite our nervousness, Dawn and I found it quite a challenge to constrain our enthusiasm for the subject into the 45 minutes we were given.  Timings for our session run throughs had been much quicker than on the night, which I have since learned is quite common, so my first take away is to bear that in mind for any future sessions.  That being said, despite running over a little, most people stayed with us and we had some great questions.

The session after ours was presented by Carl Cookson and Ryan McLean, who were talking about Power Automate.  Both really strong presenters and very knowledgeable about their subject.  Their easy to follow, informal style suited the audience, and Carl and Ryan were very entertaining and informative – a great example of how to present complex technical concepts to all levels of experience.  They really kept the attendees engaged throughout and there was a real buzz on the chat.

They also managed to keep well under 45 minutes, which is a learning point … I will definitely aim for brevity next time!

All said, it was an awesome opportunity to get out there, participate, share some knowledge and develop some skills.   I am extremely grateful to the team at D365 Birmingham for giving me the chance to present a session, and I would recommend anyone who is even thinking about it to get in touch with their local User Group and take the leap!

Our takeaways were …

  • session run-throughs had been much quicker
  • easy to follow, informal style suited the audience
  • aim for brevity