The talk went alright, and as a consequence I feel I delivered it much better in Belfast the week after.
I started out by introducing my talk and explaining that I was practicing for YAPC. I asked the attendees to let me know what they thought afterwards, as any feedback would help me do a better job the week after. I deliberately mentioned that I wanted both positive and negative feedback, as any opinions would help me improve.
Wow! I got some wonderful feedback from several people, who provided lots of encouragement and insight, pointed out my weaknesses and suggested improvements I could make.
I managed to incorporate some, but not enough, of these improvements before Belfast. Still, I have plenty of useful ideas to bear in mind for the future.
So, I wonder what to do: Should I always ask for feedback or will this make me seem unprepared? Perhaps it depends on the occasion. Regardless, I have plenty of things to think about for the next few talks I give.
How should I respond to others' talks? I don't want to seem rude by offering unwanted criticism, but I don't want to hold back opinions that might prove useful. Maybe it's all about diplomacy and tact, skills that all programmers have in abundance. Oh, wait a minute..
Finally, I don't want to suggest that I didn't get any feedback in Belfast. I got some very satisfying responses but, as I hadn't asked for it, less insightful criticism and suggestions for improvement. Anyone?