Conferences, events and meetups are all things I enjoy. I have been an organizer, speaker & presenter, host and volunteer at many events. When 2020 started, I had big hopes and plans of travelling to speak at multiple international events and also had a few local Bangalore events lined up. But the world had to face a pandemic and everything came to a screeching halt.
As many of you, I was disheartened too. But I still hoped for things to get better, thinking we might get to some of the events at least. Things are different now. We now know that this lifestyle is here to stay. We have been working, learning, recruiting, networking and meeting remotely and might have to continue to do so for a while.
But where does this put the life of a ‘speaker’ – someone who enjoys speaking, being invited to attend and talk at events?
Well, I would like to highlight how I have been pleasantly surprised by the state of our events and their emergence from all the cancellations, losses and hearbreaks!
In the past 6 months, I have spoken at more events I would have normally! I have had the chance to connect with multiple events in various ways and all of them have shown me the resilience of our community.
TribalQonf , STeP-In Summit, Test Leadership Congress 2020
I was invited by Mahesh Chikane to speak at the TribalQonf which was a great opportunity. I presented about Adopting a Risk Based Test Approach and my talk was appreciated for which I am always #grateful !
The event was organised well and I am glad to be a part of this superb round up video along with some awesome speakers!
The Ministry of Testing (MoT) is definitely the biggest and the most supportive testing community. Having heard so much about their Testbash events conducted world-wide, speaking at one was a long time goal. And I was fortunate enough to be accepted to speak at Testbash Detroit this year. But as things progressed since the beginning of 2020, travels and conferences of any kind were far from possible in light of a the global pandemic of Covid-19. Alas! our dreams were shattered. And though, it was disheartening for sure, the awesome community jumped back from the jolt and got together to bring us all an awesome online event #Testbash Home 2020.
Preparations began and I too got back to preparing my talk, which I had given up on after the cancellations! Took a couple of weekends sorting out the content and slides. Then we had a call to record the talks with the community members Heather and Diana were ever so supportive and so kind with their emails, scheduling and feedback! This was a wonderful idea to have the talks pre-recorded so that we are not hampered by any technical glitches on the event day, while we speakers get to focus on engaging with everyone and answering questions from the community.
As the day of the event approached, I prepared for my live interview. The event had more than 1000 registrations! Definitely making it the biggest audience I have ever presented to. Though the event began late night hours for my timezone, my talk was at a convenient morning hour. So that is when I joined in. Had a wonderful chat with Richard who was the Backstage boss and handling the entire livestream for the entire 24 hours! Checked on my audio & video etc and also had introductions with James who was the host for that part. And then we were live!
The duration of the talk went great. It was surreal listening to myself presenting, and looking at the live chat and questions coming from the participants throughout the talk. Once it ended, I was back live with my video. Me and James continued to discuss the most popular voted questions asked and I answered them the best to my knowledge. It was amazing to see such great comments and kind appreciation by the listeners in the chats once we were done. #Grateful
Once my talk was done, I could now continue to enjoy the rest of the live event! #Testbash Home was an absolute treat with a mix of great content, discussions, community participation, fun hosts and great conversations! It sure has set the bar really high for all online events in the future. I stayed throughout the next 5 parts of the event and only left late at night when it was absolutely impossible to keep my eyes open 😛
It sure felt like a day away from our regular stay-at-home lives, and felt like we had met up with so many people in the virtual world. Some key highlights of the day were-
Awesome talks by speakers
Black Box puzzles played live with volunteers
99 second talks with many enthusiastic participants, many of whom were presenting for the first time!
The breakout room was so much fun – where you could select your avatar, enter a virtual room and just chit chat (and play with Ralph the dogBoss 😛 )
The breaks in-between parts had the background noise of an actual conference hall with people chattering and plates clanking. It was so soothing to hear (given the times we are in!) A fantastic idea! 🙂
The hosts did an awesome job engaging everyone in informal chats, yoga, discussing shows we are watching, things we are cooking and what not. Considering that it was a 24 hour long event, it sure was a welcome change of pace every few hours.
The short intros of all the MoT community bosses was so much fun to watch and made it very relatable. Now we know the faces behind the names.
Overall, TestBash home was an awesome experience, and I was fortunate to get some great feedback for my first ever Testbash Talk! I also loved the sketch-note of my talk created by Louise Gibbs
I look forward to taking it further and engaging with this community in a live Testbash event some day! 🙂
I am back from the trip to Canada which followed the big day that was #TQ2019. So, I finally have a chance to share my experiences. This event https://kwsqa.org/tq2019/schedule/ organised by KWSQA was special in a number of ways-
It was my first international conference talk 🙂
I was one of the few international speakers at the conference, and the one who traveled the farthest for it!
I was the only speaker presenting 2 talks!
The travel was big too – with tonnes of visa processing, a 24 hour long flight to Toronto and then a bus ride from Toronto to Cambridge (which I nearly missed 😛 owing to the infamous Toronto traffic! )
Day 1 of the event was workshops that were in progress when we reached and we got a chance to informally meet the organizers at the desk. That evening they had planned a Speaker dinner which was a great idea. I got to interact and meet with all the speakers, made some friends and so the next day seemed a little less daunting having so many known faces.
24 Sep was the big conference day. Staying at the same hotel gave me the advantage to get ready at my own pace and be on time for the breakfast. The event began with a brief intro and then split into tracks. The first talk I attended was ‘Lean Coffee Facilitators Training’ by Matt Heusser. My first time hearing him speak. His session was fun and engaging and practical. I did #sketchnotes for the talk and also participated in the activity which was fun!
After that was my own session in the next room, so I hurried to setup and get ready. The best part was that the organisers had planned a 15 minutes gap between each talk for QA/Networking which gave the speakers and the delegates some breathing room and time to get to other sessions.
I talked on ‘The What, When and How of Test Automation’ which was a 45 minutes session. The room was full and there were lots of good questions and participation from the audience. I did feel that I handled it well and the topic as well as the proposed ideas were well received! 🙂 Here are a few glimpses into my talk-
Though I was relieved having just delivered a good talk, I still had one more to go! After that was lunch hour. A few participants from my talk invited me to sit at their table and we had so many discussions about work, testing as well as my travel plans 😛
Then we got back to talks- I also attended a talk on ‘Barriers in Accessibility Testing’ by Albert Gareev which I also #sketchnoted
Post that I rushed to the lightning talks track as I had to prepare for my next talk that was a 15 minute session on ‘Gamify your Agile Workplace’. As I got there I heard Richard Strang talk about ‘Implementing an Agile QA Guild’ and his experiences that were so varied and interesting. Then I got up to speak and since I was talking about an innovation game called speed boat, I had to first draw a big speed boat on the flipchart (with my limited drawing skills:P ) with a room full of people staring! I guess I managed well as the room MC Tina Fletcher (also president of KWSQA) was impressed with my masterpiece 😛 hehe
The session went well – the best bit being our Keynote speaker Damian Synadinos attending as well volunteering for the little game we played. It was an honor and an unforgettable experience. I hope the audience took back something tangible to try out gamification in their agile teams.
With both the talks done, it was now time to relax and network. I stopped by the booths by Oracle and NPM, chatted with fellow speakers and delegates, the organizers and also got real time feedback from the attendees who chose to attend my sessions.
Post the little coffee break was the grand closing keynote by Damian and it really was an experience. He mentioned in his intro that he had some improv experience and he really uses it to the best in his speaking! The talk was funny, intriguing, had loads of content, memorable quotes as well as an activity in which I volunteered! And a big Plus — Damian mentioned me and my talk too! 🙂 🙂 All in all it was an epic performance and really inspiring as a speaker. Kudos to the effort that went behind putting this together.
The best parts were getting to know so many wonderful people like Josh, Bailey and Dani, and getting to meet @Matt Heuser who I have had the chance to work with online. A face-to-face interaction makes things seem so real and people so approachable. He is a gem of a person and so encouraging too. I also made a friend @Emna who came from Tunisia to speak at the event! We roamed the streets of Cambridge and rode buses together and by the end seemed like we have known each other for so long. I surely hope to see her again at a future conference.
The organizers at TQ2019 had really worked hard and their efforts worked out so well with such a grand event pulled off with great ease, smooth flow and right on schedule. They welcomed us with warmth and helped throughout the day. At the end of the day we all got some time to cool off with a Social event where we mingled and got a chance to express our gratitude and say good byes. I would like to personally thank Greame Harvey, Sabina, Rob, Josh Assad ,Jared and Tina Fletcher from the KWSQA committee who were all so helpful and kind.
I am thankful for getting this opportunity and look forward to staying connected with such awesome people. I am also thankful for my supporting hubby who tagged along so that we could make this into a trip – got a chance to explore Toronto, Montreal and Quebec city and of course the majestic Niagara Falls! 🙂
On top of that I get to present not one but 2 talks!! My topics are
“The What, When & How of Test Automation” 45 mins
In this I will talk about preparing robust automation strategies. Agile means pace and agile means change. With frequent time boxed releases and flexible requirements, test automation faces numerous challenges. Haven’t we all asked what to automate and how to go about the daily tasks with the automation cloud looming over our heads. Here we’ll discuss answers to some of these questions and try to outline a number of approaches that agile teams can take in their selection of what to automate, how to go about their automation and whom to involve, and when to schedule these tasks so that the releases are debt free and of best quality.
“Gamify your Agile workplace” 15 mins
In this I’ll present live some innovation games and have audience volunteers engage and play games based on known scenarios. Let’s Play and learn some useful Innovation Games that can help you gamify your agile team and workplace, making the team meetings shorter and communication more fun!
Both these topics are close to my heart and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with a wider audience.
I am also excited to meet all the awesome speakers at the event , as well as get to know the fantastic team of organizers behind this event!