OK, mark another one off the bucket list. Today at Lotusphere Comes to You here in Madrid, I delivered an entire 45 minute presentation en español. The presentation, "Smart Collaboration", was essentially a slightly higher-level version of the keynote Kevin Cavanaugh and I delivered at Lotusphere. In fact, it was the comfort of knowing that this was my presentation, my words, that gave me the confidence to deliver those words in a different language. The times when I stumbled were mainly those where I tried to use someone else's words, for a few slides that were borrowed from here or there. Otherwise, according to reports, the message got across.
Here is the presentation -- for IBMers, I'll even post it along with the entire script (not just speaker notes) on my Lotus Connections files later tonight.
Speaking in Spanish had its challenges, clearly. While I routinely read Spanish-language documents, my daily use of the language is fairly limited, and it has been 20 years since I was a student. The situation was improved last night when we realized I could use my Mac as a teleprompter -- yes, despite the criticisms of Lotusphere reliance on same -- and then it was more about pronunciation than about word choice. That was a HUGE help. I struggled with pronouncing a few words, especially large ones or those that looked suspiciously like their English equivalents -- try saying desarrolladores three times fast (in the end, I resorted to "developers, developers, developers", but there was no monkey dance. The way I knew that things had gone well -- the owner of the "lotuspherecty" twitter ID, who I did not meet, tweeted several times during my presentation, highlighting the key messages. Clearly, the message came through correctly.
Both in person and on blogs/twitter, many in the audience thanked me for making the "titanic effort" to present in Spanish. Really, it shouldn't have to be that big a deal. Unfortunately, in the culture in my country, being fluently bi-lingual is not common nor a requirement. I am in awe, and somewhat embarrassed, when I meet people who can speak four (or more) languages easily. So, such is not mi vida. For me, today (and of course, Thursday in Barcelona) are the best effort I can make to truly bring Lotusphere to "you".
After my presentation, I later joined IBM's Luis Suarez on stage to discuss social software. Luis's presentation was excellent, and I understood most of it. Interestingly, the Spanish are among the most prolific users of social software, but it is mainly market-facing usage. Many in the room use LinkedIn and Facebook, but not so much for (or from) their jobs. Luis asked me to discuss IBM's use of social software and how it has affected my business, and (after holding up my Spanish/English dictionary as a reference), I provided some basic answers about how you and I are now having the direct, market-driven conversation instead of hiding behind market research reports and consulting studies.
The IBMers have run an excellent event here in Madrid, and I expect more of the same on Thursday in Barcelona. Until then, ¡hasta luego, otra vez!