Category Archives: business

Tips on public speaking

At the VMware User Group NL conference we just had a vExpert lunch with Amy Lewis (@commsninja). She gave a great talk with tips on public speaking. One of the problems we touched upon is “imposter syndrome”. Joep Piscaer gave a separate talk about this, which I will link to when the video is published.

As I really love presenting, learned not to be nervous and do not suffer from imposter syndrome I felt it would be a good idea to list here the tips I mentioned during the discussion. These are really things I use daily and that are fundamental to me for public speaking, presenting, podcasting or whatever. I should probably put these golden nuggets in a presentation and sell it, but here you go for free:

  • Tell a story. This is something I twittered about at cloud expo last week and is very dear to me. Whatever it is you are presenting about, tell a story. A personal experience, a user story, even a complete analogy. I once attended a presentation about tech evolution where the speaker told a story about a medieval monastery! I still remember it today some odd 20 years later… I do not remember all the presentations where people where just going over all the bullet points on their slides… Note that obviously you do not just present slides made by your marketing department…
  • Be yourself. Be authentic. I think this also helps with imposter syndrome. If you are a techie, introvert guy, do not imitate Elvis on stage. Present from your strengths. Use whiteboard, explain (tell a story…). People will connect. I used the example of a company I used to work for (yes Novell, no one remembers…) where we would have US-based tech evangelists come over to present. They did great sessions – shows almost – that were welll received. When some European colleagues started imitating them it bumped. Because we do not have the same culture, so it was not accepted from a local. And the local guys were not the “guys from HQ”.
  • Present as if you are in the audience. This is the most important one for me. This is what helped me a ton. Unfortunately I do not remember where I picked it up. If you have to do a presentation, imagine that you are in the audience. Do you want to be entertained or do you want someone struggling through his speech? It will even help you feel empathy for yourself, which is very important because there are some very good chances that the audience exists of normal people like you that are also nervous about presenting sometimes! (Unless you are presenting to managers or vc… just kidding).

And as mentioned by Amy: practice, practice. I was lucky that through my hobby (astronomy) I started working as a volunteer in an observatory where they dropped me in front of groups visiting with every different background imaginable. So I was already presenting long before I got into tech.

Oh and most important, even for life itself… Use a little humour….

Let me know what you think and go out and present to the world!

Upgrading The Bitstream to use ssl.

It was long overdue, but now that I have to recertify as vExpert for 2019 and since I will be looking for new business opportunities, an upgrade to use ssl was long overdue. I host my blog at UnixSolutions, simply the best hoster I know in Belgium with the great support and options. Disclosure: I have a reseller account… so if you want to host there let me know … 😉

First the WordPress application I use for this blog itself: Unix Solutions uses a powerful, yet simple software management tool: Installatron. It includes a great portfolio of web apps, including ecommerce – ready websites! Once installed it is also very simple to take backups – even automatic ones. This came in handy later and it means my blog is safe without buying one of the professional plans from WordPress/Jetpack.

The Installatron management interface.

Unix Solutions supports a number of options for SSL configuration. I am not going into theory here, there are a lot of great resources for that. By default you can use a self-signed certificate, but that is obviously not going to roll for SSL encryption… When I asked they quickly reactivated support for Let’s Encrypt. I cannot give enough praise for an initiative like Let’s Encrypt. It is a free Certificate Authority. Where in the past you had to pay a lot of money to a CA like RSA, anyone can now secure their comms with their own certificate, free! The DirectAdmin interface at Unix Solutions makes it so simple, just fill out some fields, domain and subdomains and save! Presto and you get your certificate. You can even check automatic recertification!

The SSL config options.

After setting up SSL I applied the changes to my WordPress site as detailed here. I choose the second option of course, not to use a plugin but to edit config files to force rewrites from http to https and also for the admin interface. And then panic set in because my site would not load… I will spare you the details of everything I tried…. In the end I am not to proud to admit I went for a backup restore… I noticed that I could restore to the https version of the bitstream… and after a few minutes everything was working! You can see my second copy running in the first screenshot. And in good old IT fashion I am not exactly sure why! The backup option sure is great because you can configure it to make a backup before any WordPress upgrade, even plugin or theme updates.

And now the Bitstream is up and running again, ready for new blog posts…

Great new profile QR code in Linkedin app

Linkedin published a new version of their iOS app today and it has a feature that I am going to use *a lot* at meetings, VMUGs, conferences… I think it might even revitalise my use of Linkedin. It’s profile QR codes. I heard about it through Engadget.

Basically if you click the QR icon in the search bar in the main screen, it allows you to display a QR code with link to your profile that others can scan. Or you can scan other QR codes. Since Apple now has easy QR scanning in the camera app (just point camera at any QR code), this is a great tool that is going to save me a lot of business cards and scanning in other cards.

My Linkedin profile QR code

My Linkedin profile QR code

Of course you want to make sure to update your contact details and visibility, I added for instance Blue Medora’s product matrix….