Wade Barnett held the first-quarter Silicon Valley SolidWorks User Group (SVSWUG) meeting in Campbell, CA on March 18th (a few days ago). Other than my carpoolin’ co-worker, I had not told anyone other than Kenneth Barrentine that I was attending the SVSWUG meeting. I was just expecting to anonymously attend to see what Wade was going to do for his SWW8 related presentation (SolidWorks World 2008).
As Wade announces the start of the meeting, I hear my name. It was Wade seeing if I was in attendance. I respond with, “one minute,” as I was finishing up some business. He calls my name again. “I’m here.”
He precedes to invite me talk about SWW8 for the meeting.
Background on this is that I did make a presentation about SWW8 that I was planning to give the next day at the Tri-Valley SolidWorks User Group in Pleasanton, CA. However, I did not expect to speak at the SVSWUG meeting about it; so I didn’t bring my laptop (and therefore my notes/presentation).
However, I’m a trooper. I quickly agree to speak. I was caught a bit off-guard, though. I joined Wade at the front. Wade and I talked with the attendees about SWW8. I was trying my best to pull my presentation highlights from memory. It worked out OK as we volleyed through talking points. Several times I wish I had my material with me. It can be hard to help someone visualize what you are talking about without photos. I hope we did help people get some sense of the scope and importance of SWW8. Maybe more people from our area will attend next year. Out of the 50 or so SVSWUG meeting attendees, I believe like seven where at this year’s SolidWorks World.
For the rest of the meeting, Wade conducted an open forum with the discussion of simple tips and tricks to help solve certain problems and speed up/shortcut certain functions of SolidWorks. He had SolidWorks running to show live examples. It always impresses me the value that of even simple tips and tricks sessions have for many people. He covered many points, from how to make slots quickly to how to record and use simple macros. The open forum meant that even when Wade didn’t have an answer immediately, others were able to chime in on questions that where brought up.
In my opinion, the open forum approach to presentations can be useful. It is most useful to newer users or users that don’t get a chance to explore SolidWorks in depth. However, I think it does have its place. At times, open forum presentations can get bogged down with questions or tasks that have too large of a scope for the brief time available. I believe Wade was able to balance these issues pretty well in his session. He knew when to delve into a topic, and when to save a topic for another time. Even still, I think this format should be used sparingly. Of course, regardless of presentation format, audience participation is always welcome.