Mike MJ Harris

TLCC Talks 2019


In August 2019 I was part of a panel at the Tessitura Community Community conference. Here's a write up of the context, the preparation and the talk itself.

Tessi... what?

For those not in the arts world Tessitura is a "Unified system to run your arts and culture organization". They have over 600 institutions all over the world using their system which manages everything from ticketing, CRM, finance, analytics and so much more. They are a not for profit and organise a large US based conference each year called Tessitura Learning and Community Conference (TLCC). This year was the biggest ever, with almost 2000 attendees. I'd had a proposal accepted and was set to be part of a presentation discussing the different ways organisations have adapted the Tessitura white label ticketing site. Our team has done a fantastic job iterating and improving our ticket purchase flow and this was a great forum to show off their hard work.


One of the best parts of Tessitura is getting to mix with a wide variety of other organisations. I was doing a ten minute slot in an hour talk alongside four others. The preparation for the presentation was mainly organised by community members. As a group we had our first online discussion at the end of May. We outlined the topics we wanted to cover and how our session would work. We had a follow up run through at the start of July and sent in our presentations by mid July. A huge thanks to Sydney Peloquin (Austin Theatre) Lilly Pipkin (Ballet Austin) and Luke McKenzie (Perot Museum) for helping corral, prod and generally make sure we had everything we needed and were on time! Here's a pic of the full panel line up:

Panelists for tlcc talk


In a couple of previous posts (burlesque presentation and tools and tips for presentation) I've discussed how I structure, prepare and deliver a talk. Those posts are a few years old but I still broadly follow my own advice.

Getting slides sorted far in front of the presentation was a big relief. However I often practice the talk as I build the slides - mentally I felt I was done so left practicing the talk quite late. Fortunately it's an area I've discussed extensively so was pretty comfortable with the message and the key points I wanted to make.

On the day prep

The conference was four days and our talk was the first talk on the developer track after the main opening keynote. Earlier in the day I'd made sure I'd found the room where we'd be presenting (the conference centre was huuuge) and stood on the stand so I could visualise how the talk would go. Then I could enjoy the keynote knowing I was all prepped. Post opening presentations I headed off promptly, met the other presenters in the flesh for the first time and made myself comfortable on my chair on stage.


My talk was the second from last so I could sit back and enjoy the others talks. We'd done a prep run through a few weeks earlier but a few things had changed and everyone was much more polished. Unfortunately the speakers couldn't see the screen showing the slides to the audience which made it a bit harder to follow along. Lost attention for some of the talks as I was familiar with the material and wanted to briefly go over the key parts for my section in my head.

Really enjoyed doing my part - always a bit tough presenting from someone else's computer but that went smoothly. The room itself was quite short but very wide so had to make a big effort to try and talk to both sides to include everyone. Very happy with my delivery and pace - can always speak slower but overall I felt I spoke clearly and got all the main points across as I wanted. Got the sense that at least a chunk of the audience were engaged and following along.


There was only a short time available for questions at the end and with a broad range of topics covered there wasn't anything focused on my section. There were a few people who came up immediately after with a few thoughts. The benefits of a four day conference and talking at the beginning meant there was plenty more time to bump into people. Over the next few days got to have a bunch of interesting chats over some of the topics I'd discussed. Also got some good feedback on the talk and some tips.

You can view the slides from the presentation here. Apologies they don't have any notes but the jist should still be clear.


Really enjoyed the whole process - great to be part of a community driven talk prep. Was the earliest I'd got my slides prepared for a talk ever. Just need to remember next time, especially if it's a longer or trickier talk, that I need to still practice post handing in slides. Mainly really happy to show off lots of the hard work the team has put in to building a fantastic ticketing site!