So where is this "left field" that things come out of?

One of the risks of delivering technical presentations - or, for that matter, in just about any channel where you interact with customers - is that people are going to judge you. They'll make judgements about you, good or bad, based on their perceptions and their own personalities, likes, values, experience, etc. I've come to terms with that and have witnessed it over and over through the comments that people leave on my evaluations at the MSDN Events I present. Some people love my "corny" jokes for example and some people hate them. Fair enough. I can understand both perceptions.

The salient point here is that usually all the judgements seem reasonable and you can understand what they've witnessed that drove them towards the conclusions they made, even though you don't feel that way yourself.

Then, there's left field. You know, as in "that comment came from left field". I think I was near left field this past week when I was in Pearl, Mississippi . One of my co-workers who was at that event with me last week got an email from his attendee that said this:

Just a quick note - your sessions yesterday were really great - presentation and content - excellent!!! Sometimes I wonder how anyone "competes" with Microsoft - then I met the guy who was working with you - I think he was at registration - and then he came in when you were initially telling your background....any way - after meeting him - I understand why other companies are still in business - just so they don't have to work with guys like him - I wish I remembered his name - any way - work on these guys - they do give the competition a chance.

I was the "guy working with you". Granted, this wasn't sent to me but to my coworker, but he forwarded it on to me. So what the heck am I supposed to do with something like that??? I don't think the person was even in my session. And what is my co-worker supposed to "work on" with me?

Fortunately for my self-esteem, later the same day I got this feedback in an email:

I just wanted to drop you a line tell you I thought the presentation was great. Before the event I knew of CardSpace but I thought it was really something I didn't care about; I was sort of under the "CardSpace == The New Passport." I feel like I got a great overview out of it and think it has a lot of promise. Apparently, Novell is implementing an Identity Selector for Linux. I've had some ideas of implementing CardSpace with a couple SharePoint solutions. Anyway, just wanted to tell you I enjoyed it; my partner went to the TS2 event and wasn't happy but I think your's was very informative.

I guess that one came out of right field. What do you think?