What it takes to make a Dreamforce session

This year I’m presenting 3 sessions at Dreamforce. Each session is different, but the prep is remarkably similar. Here are the steps:

  1. Panic about being picked. Vacillate between being honored and horrified. Now all you have to do is take your topic and fill the time allotted with engaging and informative stuff. You may know your topic like the back of your hand, but you’ll still worry that no one else will find it interesting.
  2. Meet with your team. You’ll have at least one other person working with you on the session. Either co-presenters or Salesforce staff are there to help with gathering materials, reviewing slides, attending dry runs, etc. You will talk to these folks more than co-workers, family, and friends for the next few weeks.
    Keep in mind these folks aren’t all in your timezone. The eternal dance of “when can you meet?” has begun.
    Oh, and GoToMeeting will crash at least once during at least one of these meetings. It will happen. Just accept it.
  3. Figure out who’s going to talk about what. This is pretty easy if you’re the only one on stage but it gets exponentially harder the more people you add to the mix. Negotiations can get tense.
  4. Begin the slides. I think we can all agree that collaborating on a PowerPoint file is evil. There I said it. EVIL! Who has the most recent version? Can’t we just use Google Docs? If we do, what happens when we try to get the slides into the template?
    This step also means that you have to flesh out your idea in a visually appealing form. You are tasked with making abstract concepts like “fields” and “setup audit trail” into images, because no one (ever) wants to look at a bunch of text on slides.
  5. Email back and forth. Lots of email. “What if you do this part and I’ll do that part?” “Do we need fake data for this or do you have data you can sanitize and use?” “I can’t meet at 9am EDT on Wednesday. What about Thursday at that time?” “I’m gonna bring a banjo for that section on Validation Rules. That’ll work right?”
  6. Meet with the team again. Now you’re moving along! The PowerPoint deck is starting to have some meat to it. Folks are carving up the presentation into who’s gonna say what. You’re cruising!
  7. Dry Run #1. Your team meets with one or more Salesforce employees to to a rehearsal of the slide deck. You will be either waaaay under or waaaay over the time allotted to you. You get feedback.
  8. Tweak the slides. Now is the time when you start to really panic. There is so much to do and you have a day job, family, a life! When will it all get done? Never mind that you might have to make fake data to show a graph. The Excel RAND() function and DataLoader become your best friends.
  9. Dry Run #2. Better. It’s better this time. The team is transitioning between slides well. The visuals you’ve picked are interesting. No one hates anyone. You breathe a sigh of relief. The feedback is good. You’re firing on all cylinders. Just a few more things to fix and you’ll be ready to turn in the slides.
  10. More tweaks. Last minute review, one more logo, a better head-shot, do we need a comma there? Someone has to take the slides and put them in the official Dreamforce template.
  11. Slides get turned in just under the wire. You made it!
  12. You breathe. You breathe again. Whew!
  13. Now all you have to do is get to San Fran, find the venue, and don’t forget your banjo!

This year I’m only presenting 3 sessions. So, take those steps and multiply by 3. I’m pretty sure my husband is still speaking to me…but then again, I haven’t seen him in a few weeks.


2 Responses to What it takes to make a Dreamforce session

  1. Pingback: Dreamforce Sessions – Featuring Geopointe | Arrowpointe

  2. Pingback: Dreamforce Sessions - Featuring Geopointe – Geopointe

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