I hear those of you not conference goers mutter "Spark Sessions - what are they?"
Well one of the the wonderful ladies that comprise the "Nerd Girls" - Gab Davis persauded me to do one at BLUG and then again more recently at UKLUG. I am not sure who introduced them or their provenance before I got involved but the every lovely Gab is the one poking grumpy gits like me to get off their arses and do something that is different and most importantly inspiring.
For such is the reason Spark Session exist - to inspire.
Think of them as little 5-6 minute TED sessions but done by ordinary folk like me and the hard part is you have a maximum of 1 slide and that generally has your name on it. So there is no hiding infront of your projected content. There is just you and your audience which even for a seasoned presenter can be - well - daunting!
My first attempt was at BLUG and i have to say that although I started well I came up a bit short on both time and inspiration so I changed my topic for UKLUG and on this occasion managed to get some inspiration in and brought the duration up a bit too, so there is hope that Gab will ask me to do it again at the next conference I am at.
I have to say that the numbers in attendance at Spark Sessions is going up too, so we must be doing something right ;-) and if you are attending a LUG or Connect and you see "Spark Sessions" come along or even better put your name forward. I can recommend it :)
My topic on this occasion was "Volunteering", now there is an old army axiom that reads something like "Never Volunteer for anything" and to be fair in some circumstances this can be true but importantly not all the time.
When you voluteneering YOU as a person can make a difference, it may appear to be a small insignificant difference at the time but it IS a difference and all those wee differences will stack up to make a whole hell of a lot of difference!
Volunteering is not a one way street where you help someone or something and get nothing in return, in my experience the volunteer gets as much back and in some cases more than they put in.
Much has been said about the Olympic volunteers, indeed our own Tim Clark and Sue Smith were one of the many folk that gave of their time freely in the hope they would add to the success of the games. I can say without fear of contradiction that did just that in spades!! I would also warrant if asked both Sue and Tim would say they got as much back from the experience as they put in .. if not more.
For my UK readers I have a challenge it is only a little itzy bitzy challenge that will require you to give a couple of hours a week and a couple of hours is nothing ... a trip to the pub perhaps ... an evening of really bad TV. Nip over to the DO IT web site and type in your post code and have a look at what is available in your area.. they also provide a tab for "Volunteering from my computer" !
Go on .. have a go ..and HAVE FUN!
** Edit ** Thanks to Chris [IdoNotes] Millar you can see lots of Spark Sessions on YouTube .. here