Patrick S. McGinnity wrote:Yeah, teaching does the same thing. You just get used to riffing on a bare-bones script and working the "audience."
And just between you and me, we know that a lot of that riffing and working the audience is simply having a deep repertoire of what people asked the last time, or the time before that. Like Improv comedy -- or like Homer reciting epic poems, for that matter -- certain bits can come out without you even having to think about them, so you can reserve your brain cells for the zingers that you'll find this time.
One of my best-received tech talks is a talk where I demonstrate the power of UML for designing a system; and I do it "working without a net," so to speak. I walk into the user group meeting, introduce myself, and take suggestions from the audience for what sort of system we're going to design tonight. And then we're off and running, and I spend 90 minutes drawing and designing and teaching and answering questions about how I'm working. At the end, they've seen me do a deep (but VERY narrow) design of a system all the way from "A customer needs something" to "Here's a little tiny bit of working code to serve those needs." And I had literally no clue what I was designing 30 seconds before I started.
Except... I reserve the right to choose from among the proposals, because I need to demonstrate something that will make sense to the whole audience, not just one person; and because I need a problem example that involves human inputs (so no 100% automated systems). And I also reject ideas if I can tell in advance that they're just too big, and instead I ask if we can narrow the scope as an example. So that helps a lot.
And then... Well, you'd be amazed by how many business systems can be described as some combination of Event Scheduling, Reservations, Time Tracking, Order Placement and Tracking, and Data Gathering and Analysis. So even though I don't "know" what I'll be designing, I can make a pretty good guess at broad outlines.
There. Now I've told you all my secrets. And yet even knowing that, I'll bet if you saw me perform, you'd still be astonished at how smoothly I make it all work. THAT is where experience and comfort level and thinking on your feet come in. That presentation wins me big applause and lots of follow-up questions pretty much every single time.
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.