General

I’ve talked at a lot of tech events, but most of my talks are at Salesforce events (user groups, Salesforce World Tours, Dreamforce etc). This year will be my 5th year speaking at Salesforce’s largest customer event ‘Dreamforce’. With more than 150,000 heading to San Francisco for the event, it’s a BIG event. If you haven’t been yet its well worth the trip. With around 1600 breakout sessions for every role (Admin’s, Dev’s, Sales etc) and industry vertical you can think of there are still a lot of people going to the sessions.

Tell a story

Some of the best talks I’ve done and seen tell a story. Having a narrative going through your session builds, in my opinion, an excellent speech. I think it’s essential to inspire hope and confidence and tell the story as if you were talking to a friend. One of the best examples of this personal style is Bryan Stevenson TED talk on injustice. The security talk I did earlier in the year at Salesforce World Tour was quite an emotional subject for me as one of my friends had lost their life savings and another also lost money because they didn’t take necessary steps to protect themselves. I tried using a Narrative Arc in the talk, now this can be hard to implement in a product demo type talk but talking about Security allowed me a bit more flexibility. My goal was to educate the audience in security and protecting themselves as well as securing Salesforce. For me the structure was:

  1. Narrative-arc

    The Narrative Arc

    Exposition: Introduction

  2. Rising action 1: Talk about security incidents in the press to set the scene
  3. Rising action 2: Security issues closer to home and within your organisation & some solutions
  4. To Climax: Tell the story about my friends (the climax of the talk)
  5. Falling action > Resolution: Quick tips on protecting yourself online and Q&A.

This narrative arc style of talk works really well if you have a “show stopper” element when I talked about my friends (that was the idea anyway).

 

If you can’t describe your talk in 120 characters, think again!

The title and abstract of your talk are incredibly important, especially at a big event. The title will need to pop off the page for people to sign up to it especially if they are choosing from 1600!! But also decide how you’re going to market your talk. One of my talks at Dreamforce this year is called “Integration with Salesforce Connect & Custom Extensions“. Ok sounds quite boring but the title is targetted to people looking for my talk at Dreamforce, if I was marketing this online I would say something like “See how I find out what I’m going to eat of an evening coding custom adapters with Salesforce Connect”.

Nerves & how to combat them

Anyone who says they don’t get nerves before going on stage is just down right lying! My nerves hit just before a presentation, but once I’m on stage I’m fine, but this is mainly due to me eliminating or having a backup plan for everything that I think could go wrong, which then puts me at ease.

If you are doing a demo always have another presentation with the screenshots of the demo, have it already loaded in the background just in case the internet dies or your demo breaks! This has saved me in the past!!! It’s not good for the nerves if you are worrying if the internet will stay up and you don’t have a backup plan.

Do you ask the audience a question? What if no-one replies? My rebuff is “Well when I did this talk at XX they said YY” etc.

“We’ve changed the presentation room”

This hit my mailbox a day or two before a session at Dreamforce. They didn’t tell me why, just that it had changed, at the time it didn’t bother me. I’d already figured out where the room was and 15minutes before my talk and I rocked up at the room and opened the door, took one step in and froze, it was HUGE and there were queues outside. It then dawned on me why the room had moved, too many people had signed up to see the talk and they had changed to a bigger room. The talk was “Apex 10 Commandments” which was subsequently repeated and has morphed over the years into other talks like “Admin 10 Commandments” etc.. but at the time, it was just another talk to me. What saved my bacon was that I had already presented the talk at the Salesforce Bristol user group. I had the confidence that I could do it and had already answers questions during the Q&A at the user group. I also had Kevin Poorman my co-presenter too.

Start Small before you reach for the stars!

Don’t start too big; this is especially useful if you are a nervous speaker or don’t even know if you can speak in public. At the London Women in Tech user group, Jodi Wagner & Keir Bowden have been running public speaking workshops on how to approach public speaking but here are a couple of things you can do.

  1. “Francis’ Five Minute Feature”; Now this is what I started at our Salesforce Admin User Group and is a great way for people to try speaking with very low worry. Just pick a platform feature or a trick you have learnt and spend 5 minutes talking about it and pitch the idea to your local Salesforce user group. If you want some ideas, check out my YouTube.
  2. Do a talk at a user group; User groups are generally a lot smaller than a Dreamforce session and a great way to get feedback on your talk before taking it to Dreamforce!
  3. Do a talk with an experienced co-presenter; This is a great way to reduce the amount of time you have on stage and answer the Q&A questions you don’t know. Great co-presenters can also help you if things go wrong and pull you out of a hole which helps with confidence!
  4. Do a talk at a community event; like Forcelandia, London’s Calling, Midwest Dreamin’, Southeast Dreamin’, and Tahoe Dreamin’. These groups tend to be bigger than user groups and are a nice step up. I co-organise the London’s Calling event and we’re about to do a call for speakers so keep an eye out on the @LDNsCall twitter.

Questions & Answers

This can be a nerve-racking time. There is one way out that I used to use… overrun, “Sorry seems like we’ve run out of time for Q&A but if you come and see me at the front I can answer your questions”. But now, for me, Q&A is incredibly important for the audience. I remember when this came to light, it was one of the very first talks I did at Dreamforce. The talk was about drip feeding eLearning to users. The basic premise was if a user clicked a button “Create Invoice” but hadn’t had the “Create invoice” training they were redirected to a youtube video for the training & a google form to test their knowledge, if they got the answers correct they got access to the “Create Invoice” functionality. During the Q&A EVERY question was on the magic javascript “Create invoice” button. “Can you make it go to a different URL?”, “Can you check to see if they have a field filled out on the record before going to the url?”… I then realised that I could have done an entire talk on the JavaScript button and that this talk had been debunked by everyone thinking what else this magic button could do.

If I finished the talk before Q&A everyone would be thinking that the talk wasn’t good enough because what they really wanted to know was about the javascript button which wasn’t the focus of my talk. But, by answering their questions it allowed me to redirect the focus of the talk and answer their questions to give more time to the subject without them going away thinking there were gaps. At the end of the day the success or failure of the talk rides on the audience satisfaction of the talk.

But what if you don’t know the answer? … But really? who actually knows all the answers? Answer honestly and say you don’t know, but if they come to the front of the room at the end you can have a hunt on the interweb. Its a perfect moment to talk about the other ways you find answers; The Salesforce Success Community, StackExchange, Twitter #askforce hashtag etc. If your talking on a subject that you’re a bit shaky on (really you shouldn’t be in this position but hey it happens) get someone a lot smarter than you to come to your talk and sit in the front row that you can call on, or even co-present with them!

Practice makes perfect… or does it?

The great opera singer Luciano Pavarotti once said he would practice a piece 100 times in private before he ever sang it in public. Now practice does make perfect and I’ve mentioned a couple of ways above of how you can get practice in front of people. Practice does make perfect with one exception, and that’s when it comes to jokes. I did a talk last Dreamforce with a co-presenter and the moment we started practising the talk with the jokes the jokes fell flat. Just running the session twice the joke delivery just didn’t sound funny anymore. We had over practised and I know see when people put in a joke and the delivery is just flat and doesn’t get the response they were looking for so be aware of that!

People may forget what you did, but they won’t forget how they made them feel

Everyone in the room wants to listen to what you have to say (as why did they want to turn up in the first place? it’s not like your teaching kids to have been forced to appear). Bring the audience along for the ride by talking TO them, scan the room and look at everyone as your talking with solid eye movements. I love doing this as I want to catch those magic moments when it suddenly dawns on someone’s face what you’re talking about, it’s also a great confidence boost. But don’t be worried if you don’t get a reaction as different cultures react differently.

Make sure when you practise your talk you are standing up but also have room to move! What I have done in the past is (I know this is going to sound silly, but it was a trick I learn’t when I trained as a Snowboard instructor) is to video record the first 5 minutes of your talk, take a look at your posture, are you standing straight? keeping your head high? not making too many gestures but when you do they are to highlighting a point. Experts call this style of posture and body language as “eager non-verbal”, which is very persuasive. BUT be warned, a mismatch between your non-verbal communication and words can significantly distract from your talk.

trailhead_module_public_speaking_skillsLearn more at Trailhead

I started this blog before I found Salesforce had created a Trailhead module on Public Speaking using information from my fellow MVPs. It has some great tips on presentation styles, what to expect its well work checking it out!

 

Bookmark My Dreamforce 2016 Sessions!

I am going to be presenting three sessions are Dreamforce, they are:

Integration with Salesforce Connect & Custom Extensions
Beyond standard OData functionality, Salesforce Connect creates a powerful new integration pattern for custom data sources that allows you to surface any data to Salesforce as an SObject. In this session you will learn how to create custom Apex extensions for Salesforce Connect to allow you to easily integrate your web services. With custom connectors, users will interact with any external data in the same way they interact with Salesforce objects and records making integration more seamless than ever.

Bookmark Session

 

An Admin’s Guide to the Developer Console
Why isn’t my Workflow working? Why doesn’t my validation work? Help is at hand in the Developer Console. Join us to learn how to read Salesforce Debug Logs to really see what’s happening when you update or create that record.

Bookmark Session

 

AppExchange DemoJam
I’m honoured to be invited to present the Salesforce Demo Jam at Dreamforce. App Vendors will be showcasing the best of their app with a real-time demo. Each app vendor will have only THREE minutes to share! After the audience vote for their favourite, only one can win!

For those who haven’t been to a Demo Jam before this is an amazing way to see a lot of Vendor apps in a very short space of time.

Bookmark Session
General

I straddle three strange worlds of Theatre, IT & investment. For the last couple of months I’ve been working in the theatrical and design world creating a mobile app for theatre with the help of students from University Art London, the University is amazing, bursting at the seams with creativity, but it got me thinking…

When I was growing up I (as with everyone) was stuck in the same education system which hadn’t changed since the Victorians. A system where the hierarchy of subjects was clear. Maths and sciences at the top followed by humanities, languages and finally the arts subjects. I remember the very day I was finally sold this idea. It was when I came to decide my A’Levels (16 years old ish), do I go the artist route and learn to act, etc? Or the IT route and do computing and Electronics? In the end, computing won the day. Yes, it has done me very well but with every passing day, I feel the subjects are upside down for our future children. If you haven’t seen it already check out Sir Ken Robinson’s: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The Goldern Age of AI

We are now in an era where processors and sensors are cheap and after many failed attempts at AI over the years (Alan Turing even predicted that machines would be able to imitate humans by the year 2000), I believe we are now on the cusp of jumping forward in the AI industry. Just look at Google photo search! I can search for names of objects like “bridge” and up pops all the bridge photos I’ve ever taken!

“Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking everything we’re doing.”
— Google CEO, Sundar Pichai

Salesforce Acquires PredictionIO

Salesforce is building up its Machine Learning Muscle and has recently acquired PredictionIO. PredictionIO is a machine learning tool that allows developers to create predictive features, such as personalisation, recommendation and content discovery. I believe this to be the key to the CRM of the future allowing the vast amounts of data that companies collect to be cross-referenced by AI and provide users with information to become more successful in selling and managing their customers.

Lack of front line jobs

McDonalds Pay points

McDonalds Pay points

For the show ‘A Secret Life‘ (see a trailer here) we interviewed nearly 200 people about their experiences as a teenager which were used to create the script for this outdoor promenade theatre show. We interviewed two age groups, teens of today and OAPs (aged 75 years+). We found that finding work in the 1920s was a lot easier to come across than now as well as a lot more pressure on children today to “do well at school”. If you wanted work in the 20s, you could just go down the road and ask, and those jobs went on to more skilled higher paid roles. But that’s not surprising when you see that nowadays companies are automating a lot of those accessible “front end desk jobs”, it’s cheaper to have a machine than a human doing the work. Take McDonalds for example; you can now choose, order and pay for your meal without even talking to any staff. When I’m at the supermarket, I sometimes find staff tills empty yet a queue for the automated tills?!. Are we being programmed that having the unpredictability of talking to another human at a supermarket too much for us to bear?

If it’s getting harder to get a leg up on the job ladder, shouldn’t we be teaching our children more about how to create their own jobs?

The shift to creativity

Glowforge.com - Reinventing homemade to allow home product production

Glowforge.com – Reinventing homemade to allow home product production

I feel now that creativity is more important than ever. It’s now become even easier to create creative products without the need of offshoring the production of the product allowing people to start their own micro-businesses. Just take a look at GlowForge! An amazing laser cutter tool to create and sell creative products from home. Brilliant for prototyping.

Want to get your kids involved in product creation check out the Mattel ThemeMaker!

I’ve found some countries educational systems and cultures don’t see creativity as an important part of education. I remember discussing this with someone who had recently moved to the UK and couldn’t understand why their child was “playing” so much at school. But it’s such an important part of education. Being able to play, experiment to come up with creative solutions when programming/developing solutions, and being able to think “outside the manual”.  to solve complex solutions in a simple way so that the end solutions are focused and targetted at the users who are using them.

I’ve worked with people who are technically brilliant but have hit a ceiling. They are missing the creativity to be able to think “outside the manual” to solve complex solutions in a simple, intuitive way. To be creative with the tools, APIs and technologies available to them. In my opinion, those who have that creative thinking are the gurus of their industry.

General

Yes, I know, contentious. Our government is imploding and they are now trying to figure out a route to take. Should we take the Canadian, Norwegian or Swiss setup? who knows its up to the experts. But after the initial shock, I’ve now taken a look to see how this affects my life and my work (yes I know selfish me). For me the decision wasn’t so clear cut as it seemed for many others (although I did vote to stay in). But…

The advantage for global/EU Salesforce projects

GBPUSD

Now there is no guarantees that the pound will stay down but at the moment it has lost 10% against the dollar and similar drops across other currencies. Its even dropped further than it did during the banking crisis, although that may have been slightly different as the banking crisis affected every market. The graph on the right shows the pound since the 80’s so you can compare how hard its been hit.

So what does it mean to us working in Salesforce? Ok going abroad at the moment is going to cost us 10% more than it did last week. But conversely we’ve have also now become 10% more competitive than we did a week ago. For global projects and companies that work across Europe it could now be cheaper to have your development and implementation done from the UK. We are not going to leave the EU for AT LEAST 2 years. So we still have freedom of movement across the EU, no laws are changing it is the same it was last week, the only difference is we’re now 10% cheaper! Sounds good to me. Read More

General
  • 5 years ago today a small event kicked off Salesforce Craziness
  • 5 years ago today a small event kicked off Salesforce Craziness
  • 5 years ago today a small event kicked off Salesforce Craziness
  • 5 years ago today a small event kicked off Salesforce Craziness

5 years ago today a small event kicked off Salesforce Craziness

It was a small event in the upstairs of ‘Kings Stores‘ pub, near Liverpool Street station, but it was the beginning of a real Salesforce community in London. 23rd June 2011 at 5pm, 5 years ago today around 30 or 40 people squeezed into the upstairs room of the pub for the first London Salesforce Admin & Developer user group. Organised by Wes Nolte, Anup & Bruce the event was tagged onto the end of a Tquila company meeting (from what I remember, they did like to have their meetings in pubs). I did a talk on Talend Open Studio (a free open source ETL tool) and how to connect it to Salesforce. The great ObiWan JeffNobi (Jeff Douglas) who at the time was working for Appirio and had flown over from the US did an unforgettable talk… so good in fact I can’t remember it. Sorry Jeff! Anup did a talk on a dynamic VisualForce component.

But since then we have grown… and grown and we now have seven… yes seven London Salesforce user groups in London:

  1. London Salesforce Business User Group
  2. London Salesforce Admin User Group
  3. UK Non-Profit User Group
  4. London Salesforce Developer user group
  5. Women in Tech Salesforce user group
  6. Salesforce UK Public Sector User Group
  7. Pardot User group

Read More

General

It was 5.40pm and my phone was ringing. I didn’t know it at the time but this was going to be one of “those calls”, I’d had one last year too. My friend had just left the bank after being grilled by them for 5 hours. The day previously someone had entered the bank, confirmed their identity and proceeded to clear out all her bank accounts and investments. The bank had thought that the thief had come back to finish off the job, thinking it was her they grilled her for 5 hours. The bank, in the end, managed to recover about half of her money but the rest had gone.

We had a chat and it came to me quite quickly that over the past month or so, someone had been slowly gathering information on her (hindsight is a terrible thing). Her phone went missing for a day only to reappear, the strange phone calls from “Microsoft Support”. All of which may have rung alarm bells for someone who had been trained in CyberSecurity but unfortunately she hadn’t, but that isn’t surprising. Only 15% of employees are trained in CyberSecurity.

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Administration, General

This month’s Admin user group was hosted by Slalom a US consultancy that has just created an office in London. Thanks Slalom for a great venue overlooking the Thames!

London Salesforce Admin User Group at Slalom

London Salesforce Admin User Group at Slalom

First we had Andy talking about Slalom. Slalom is a US based consultancy that has only recently moved over to the EU with their first office in London. First up was Matt with his Chatter talk. Have to say it was really interesting! How do you get analytics on who has viewed chatter groups or feeds and surface chatter analytics as a global VisualForce action, kinda neat.

Then we had Matt with his Chatter talk “I didn’t know chatter could do that”.

Matt Morris Kicking us off with "I didn't know chatter could do that"

Matt Morris Kicking us off with “I didn’t know chatter could do that”

Have to say it was really interesting! How do you get analytics on who has viewed chatter groups or feeds? Then with the analytics you have gained how do you visualise that to all your users? via a global VisualForce action of course :) kinda neat. I’ve actually been working on a chatter project myself recently had have come up with similar limitations.

 

 

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General

Join the conversation on LinkedIn

David Giller from Brainiate. Online or In Person?

David Giller from Brainiate. Online or In Person?

When David Giller from Brainate asked “Salesforce Training… Online or In Person?” on LinkedIn I couldn’t stop myself from replying.

 

I very much believe training is just one part of being at brilliant at your job: Read More

News

Trailhead has released some rather nautical Trailheads so that you can navigate the differentiators that drive Salesforce’s success: our core values, innovative technology, and vibrant ecosystem.

trailhead_module_advantage_salesforce_success_model

Salesforce Success Model

Learn who Salesforce is and our vision for driving customer success.

Go to Module Read More

General, News

I am TOTALLY overjoyed to see eight new EU Salesforce MVPs!! Especially as several of them I mentored! I still remember when all the EU MVPs rocked up to the Salesforce London big Cloudforce event. There were just 4 of us, now 26 of us (I think). We’ve also added Italy & Israel to the countries that now have a Salesforce MVP in them. I’m also relieved that I was renewed this year as well. I’m now a 5x or 6x Salesforce MVP… I’ve lost count :)

The Salesforce MVP Programme is a programme run by Salesforce to award people in the community for their Accessibility, Expertise, Responsiveness, Leadership & Advocacy in Salesforce. If you want to learn about how Salesforce awards and MVP they have recently created a blog about the whole process!

And now for the new MVPs:

Mohamed El Moussaoui

Mohamed El Moussaoui

Mohamed El Moussaoui – France   
Mohamed & Fabien run the Paris Dev user group. They were both over from France for London’s Calling a couple of weeks ago and I was REALLY hoping this year would be the year they made MVP. They run the Paris user group for quite a while and they are both great guys!!
Website: http://www.elmoussaoui.me/#blog

 

Fabien

Fabien Taillon

Fabien Taillon – France   
Fabien did a talk at London’s Calling when he was over and its well worth a watch! “Style your application with Lightning Experience Look & Feel using SLDS
Website: http://www.fabientaillon.com/

 

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Administration, Development, General

Missed London’s Calling? Checkout the video above! But this is how it all started…

It all really kicked off just before Dreamforce 2015 with Jodi Wagner, Simon Goodyear, Louise Lockie, Kerry Townsend & several bottles of Champagne. We were sitting around the table and the conversation turned to something I think we had all been mulling over for some time. The creation of an event for the Salesforce community, BY the Salesforce community. An event where we could learn from community experts in Salesforce who had been at the coal face. An event that wasn’t a Sales event, but an event for Salesforce Admins & Developers designed to help us learn from each other and find out about new Apps in the Salesforce ecosystem whilst have fun doing it! :) Needless to say, Will Coleman turned up and more Champagne was drunk and then…

London's Calling Napkin

London’s Calling Napkin

London’s Calling was born… Our first rough sketch of the event (on the back of a napkin) consisted of a two-day event, this quickly reduced down to one day. Let’s “start small” and see what happens, hey no one may turn up!

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