Birthday Talks – November Wrap

For our last event for 2020, Product Anonymous celebrated our 9th birthday. Again. We’ve actually lost track of how old we are. And this may or may not be the third time that we’ve celebrated our 9th birthday. But I digress.

We’ve had another action packed year, with so many great talks from sharing insights and becoming a super-team with marketing, to leading through influence and creating buy-in to help prioritisation with an ethical lens, getting out of product hell and transitioning to a product-led company, which can have different nuances in big corps and startups.

As well as organising all of these fantastic talks, Product Anonymous also helps nurture our own people to turn on their camera and microphones, and face the crowd. And for our final event, we had five of our community do just that, taking the virtual stage to give short 5mins talks. 

Talk to the Pencil – Marc Vandamme

As a product manager, you will need to work with a range of people, and bring them all into alignment. But how do you do that? With a comprehensive and detailed requirements document? Marc Vandamme says no! Pick up your pencil, and sketch it out. Whether it’s the interface, wireframes or flow charts, drawings will help to align the thinking faster.

I <3 Amplitude – Fernando Parra

Much of product management involves product discovery: understanding our customers’ problems with qualitative research. However, on the other side of the equation is all the data, and the world of quantitative product intelligence.

Self-confessed data geek, Fernando Parra, gave us a crash course for one such product intelligence tool – Amplitude. 

After registering, you can explore the different aspects of this analytics SaaS product,  with full access to their sandbox, which comes pre-configured with two sample projects (an eCommerce and B2B examples). From there, you can build your own charts and experiment with different data visualisations from the sample data.

Diversity – Aseel Hamarneh

Why should you (or your company) take diversity seriously? To not discriminate, or for ethical reasons? Or to avoid penalties and lawsuits? Maybe the most compelling reason is that diversity actually makes good business sense too.

Companies with ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.

McKinsey 2015

The more diverse your team is, the more perspectives that are brought in when you are designing and building solutions. But where do you start?

  • Start with yourself: recognise your own biases, we all have them.
  • Then your team: focus on diversity in your hiring. From your job ads to selection, there are plenty of tools to use.
  • Then your product: Think about your end users. Accessible solutions usually work better for all users.

Thanksgiving – Erica Wass

So much of what a Product Manager does is around influencing without authority, and giving thanks is one of the many tools to utilise, whether that be for bringing the team together, motivating, celebrating or influencing the culture and driving behaviour changes. 

Different people prefer to be recognised in different ways. So talk to your team members, and see what they prefer, and act accordingly.

Regardless if in big, public ways, or more subtle gestures, remember, it’s about the recipient, not about you.

5 Tips for More Impactful Presentations – Pratishtha Nahata

  1. Minimise Decision Fatigue: Plan your talk. Give yourself the space to think, and focus on the content and structure. Once you know what you want to say, then you can start to colour in the details, and  apply some design.
  1. Plan how info will be distributed across slides: Order and sequence the info for your, because order matters:
  • For results, outcomes or recommendations, start with the ending. 
  • For training, process or to build anticipation, start at the beginning.
  • If your audience is not familiar with the topic, you might want to start with an example before jumping into concepts. 
  1. Make it visual: Group or show the relationships between different information, to help reduce the cognitive load for your audience, so they’ll be more likely to understand and retain the information. 
  1. Only keep what’s absolutely necessary: Don’t overcrowd your slides. What does your audience already know, and is info being repeated? What can be verbal? Use visual cues, to help focus attention. Remember, you’re the star of the presentation, not your slides. 
  1. Practice. At least 2-8 times, with and without slide.
  1. Bonus tip – watch stand-up: watch and learn how comics keep their audience engaged. 

Thank you

It’s been such a busy year, with so many people to thank, starting with our speakers, Marc Vandamme, Fernando Parra, Aseel Hamarneh, Erica Wass and Pratishtha Nahata, and everybody else who has shared with us this year.

Our generous host, A Cloud Guru, who have hosted so many of our events this year – they’re on a mission to teach the world to cloud.

Our volunteers, Gwen D’souzaNosh Darbari, Steve Bauer and the rest of the crew, who help behind the scenes, and ensure our events run smoothly.

And last but not least, our trusty organiser, Jen Leibhart and Liz Blink, who bring our whole community together. Have a safe festive season, and see you in the new year.

How to Help your Team Benefit from Neurodiversity – Product Camp 2019

The speaker of this talk was Ben Jackson who discovered his Autism Spectrum Disorder as an adult.

I found this to be a great talk. I was deeply inspired by Ben’s self-knowledge, his investment in self discovery, his courage in getting up on the big stage in the largest meeting room at Product Camp and his commitment to shining a light on the spectrum of his own humanity. 

The focus of the talk was Ben’s own experience and his own neurodiversity. He was not seeking to convey the experiences of other neurodiverse people. Instead Ben wanted to give us an idea of what it is like to be neurodiverse

It is impossible for Ben to put words to the thousands of things he struggles against every day but he did share his self-stimulating (‘stimming’) behaviours that help him focus and are part of his self-management.

Two of the key terms Ben used were “neurodiverse” and “neurotypical”. Neurodiversity refers to variations regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood & other mental functions. Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are some of the variations. Neurotypical is used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual & cognitive abilities.

Key take-aways from the talk

Neurodiversity as a spectrum

Neurodiversity is a spectrum, not where someone sits on a 1-10 scale

A neurotypical person can be represented on the colour wheel as an almost perfect circle whereas a neurodiverse person would be more like a 5 pointed star.   The big thing to remember is each neurodiverse person is as unique in themselves as a neurotypical person is.

Triggers and reactions are not a choice

Neurodiversity can also mean diversity in triggers and reactions to specific stimuli. 

For example, Ben can find unexpected social interaction a trigger that leads to stress. When stressed, he tends to bite nails, touch his face and repeatedly wring his hands. His stress reactions also include extreme perfectionism. He has a pathological need to complete a task and has no choice overdoing it. He has sensitivity to sudden loud noises and even colours can trigger discomfort or cause a panic attack.

Neurodiversity means strengths and challenges in a workplace

Like with all us humans, the challenge is to understand where our strengths lie and how to use it for good.

For Ben, it means he is excellent at pattern recognition. He is also completely honest yet won’t realise if he’s being offensive or hurtful even though he’s very afraid of causing emotional distress in others. He works ‘like a computer’ where if there’s any room for interpretation he freezes as directions. Questions should be very clear as he can anticipate thousands of variations you may need but won’t know which you need

How to work with an autistic person? Just like anyone else!

When you start working with a new person, it sometimes takes a little while & effort to understand how to work best with them. Same is true with someone who is neurodiverse. Sit down and work out a way you can work with them.

This is not hard, just slightly different. It is similar to how you travel to a new country and adapt to their culture. 

Doing this is just a part of being a good leader and a good human being.

How to take advantage of working with a neurodiverse person

Where to learn more

Aspect Victoria https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/

AutismCRC https://www.autismcrc.com.au/

Ben’s article – Why you should care about Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Getting more women to present at conferences – Product Camp 2019

Sarah Mitchell

By Natalie Yan-Chatonsky

Sarah Mitchell, the champion for Leading the Product (LTP) Melbourne conference, asked the ProductCamp Melbourne community how she can pave the way for more women to speak at the conference.

In curating the speakers, she’s found there’s no shortage of local and international men keen to snap up the opportunity but female speakers are much harder to come by. 

Sarah’s goal is to curate a diverse group of speakers to make it the best possible conference. Even after 5 years of LTP, it continues to be a challenge to get more female thought-leaders to agree to speak when invited, let alone respond to her call for applications to presenters.

She asked the group for their thoughts on how we can encourage more female product managers can step up and speak publicly. 

We had a robust conversation which clearly highlighted that many women in the product management community would love the opportunity to present but need some support in the months and years leading up to being able to speak at a conference with a big audience.

What is holding women back from talking? 

The discussion group shared their views on the challenges for women to be in a position to speak at a conference:

  • Imposter syndrome – people are worried about whether their topic is good enough and/or relevant to the audience.
  • Perfectionism – feel that they may not have the authority to talk so don’t even feel brave enough to initiate a conversation in a smaller forum. For as long as they don’t speak up even at work, then they will never be ready to advance to speak at a meetup or conference.
  • Anxiety and fear of public speaking – some expressed that they were unsure about how to conquer their fears to ‘go for it’. 
  • Lack of experience – without videos or a history of previous speaking engagements makes it harder to get their initial speaking opportunities.
  • Lack of awareness – that there’s an open call for speakers for many conferences – ideally they get advance notice and know that they will have plenty of support and opportunity to practice in a safe environment.
  • Prioritising other activities – not having enough time to hone the craft of public speaking.
  • Unaware what they need to do to improve their public speaking skills – if they don’t get feedback on why they didn’t get invited or their presentation proposal didn’t get accepted, they end up ruminating on all the possible reasons that could be wrong with them, which doesn’t encourage them to keep finding new opportunities to speak.
  • Can’t find a mentor – would like to find someone to learn from but don’t know how to get one that’s right for them or willing to invest time in helping them improve their public speaking.

Iva Biva, a service designer who has been designing a solution to get more women involved in sport saw the parallels between women’s participation in sport with participation as speakers at conferences. She said that it’s the anxiety that’s stopping women from participating – the self-doubt and feeling that they are not good enough.

Here are some of the suggestions that the group came up with on how to address the above challenges:

  • Small support groups – Create a safe and supportive spaces for women to present their ideas in front of a small audience, as well as the opportunity to video and watch themselves 
  • Model examples – Increase opportunities for women to see other women speak.
  • Co-present – to take the pressure off a novice speaker as they build up their confidence and ability.
  • More guidance – conference/meetup organisers need to provide more guidance on what they are looking for, how to come up with topics that would be appealing to their audiences and specific feedback to those who missed out on how they can improve and reapply next time.
  • Mentoring – make it easier for people to find suitable mentors that will help them improve and affirm that they are on the right track to presenting well in front of an audience. 
  • Gain experience outside work through volunteering and pro bono projects.

Opportunities to get practice

The following groups provide lots of speaking opportunities:

Continue the conversation on the channel that we’ve just started:

Product Anonymous Slack Channel ->  #gettalking