A colleague of mine has been doing a great job of speaking at technology conferences. I have been very impressed by her willingness to add her voice to the world of ideas that make technology conferences so special. However, she recently sent me an email about how some people have responded to her talks:
So I just got my reviews and the majority of them were pretty good, but there were 7 - 8 really mean spirited ones. And it really bummed me out. Comments like 'got automation wrong, unrehearsed ' etc. which is not true, i only talk about things i practice... ALWAYS.
So I can't really shake it off , obviously I will get better as this was my first tech talk, ever. But how do you deal with haters ? I mean people trying to put you down in 'capital letters'- haters ?
Here is my response:
First, thanks for reaching out to me. I am always happy to do what I can for my fellow technologists! And, congratulations on the development of your public speaking career! Your willingness to put yourself out there will inspire more people than you know.
With regards to haters, I've been there. I've read feedback, online comments, and tweets after I've given technical talks. What helps me deal with haters is understanding the different types of haters. Not all haters are created equal. I put them into three groups: Jealous Haters, Fanatic Haters, and Clueless Haters.
Jealous Haters wish they were you. They hate the fact that they you got a talk accepted into the conference. They hate that they (or their company) had to pay for their registration, but you probably got it for free. They hate seeing your name in the conference documentation because it verifies your expertise, and they feel that somehow reduces their own knowledge. Some of them even submitted a talk and got a rejection letter. So, Jealous Haters often project the anger they feel toward themselves at you. You're doing what they wish they could do.
I ignore Jealous Haters. There's nothing I can do for people who hate me just for doing my thing. All I can do is continue to shine while they hide behind shade.
Fanatic Haters are people who spend their entire lives eating and breathing tech. They will knock you for missing some minute detail that they know because they do nothing but tinker with tech. You'll often see Fanatic Haters come to introductory sessions like the one you described simply so they can feel good about how much more they know than most of the people in the room.
I actually find Fanatic Haters useful. They often share deep insights if you read between the lines of their hate. So, I try to learn from their feedback and save it for more advanced sessions. I consider them almost like free sources of research. While I'm building my career and actually enjoying life with friends and family, they spend weekends in the lab discovering things that can make my life easier.
Clueless Haters are the opposite of Fanatic Hates. They simply don't know what they are talking about. However, their lack of knowledge does not stop them from trying to comment on a topic. You can identify Clueless Haters by just reading their feedback. It just doesn't make sense.
Like Jealous Haters, I ignore Clueless Haters. They have nothing to offer. But, reading their feedback is often funny.
I hope this helps! Don't let Haters (of any type) get you down. The work you do is too important to let people who don't even know you stand in your way. I am cheering for you!