In March 2022 I was the host for TestBash X in Edinburgh, a testing conference that focuses on having an experience through workshops and collaboration rather than just talks. The event was really fun and being able to host was awesome too, here’s the what, how and why I got involved (and you should too).
What is TestBash X?
Test Bash X (the X stands for eXperience) is a testing conference provided by the Ministry of Testing. Rather than being a series of talks, this event focuses on making the most of being in-person through workshops and doing things together. Attendees were split into teams and cycled through the workshops earning points as they did, with points leading to prizes!
The day was bookended by a couple of talks by Beth Marshall and Connor Fitzgerald and to get the audience participation going there were 99 second talks (where anyone can get up and speak for 99 seconds to the audience).
Fun fact: I’d been talking to the organiser (Craig Wylie) about hosting the event way back in 2019-2020 but as the global pandemic hit we had to cancel. It was really awesome to see the event come back in 2022 and to still be involved too!
What did you do as a host?
Being the host is great fun, you basically get to set the tone for the event and keep people enthused to be there.
Welcome people to the event – Jumping in to start the day by introducing myself, setting out what was going to happen (people going to workshops and joining teams), mentioning the code of conduct and thanking sponsors.
Introduce the speakers – Warming up the crowd to the speakers and their talks by giving a background to them as people and saying why the talk’ll be interesting. Then hosting the 99 second talks by getting people to come up to speak, quickly introducing them with their name and timing them too.
Keep people moving – Teams had to move between activities, have breaks and get food for lunch. Part of my role was to say when the next round of events started and say where people should be.
Keeping energy up – Part of my role was to keep people excited to be at the event through making calls on the score updates, giving ad-hoc points for doing cool things (like social media tagging), playing music as people went between activities and being overall excited to be there.
I also got to give myself a bit of time to make a quick 99 second talk on “Queer eyeing your messaging to make it more fabulous” and I used some time to make Tweets and posts to build awareness of the event.
How did you get to hosting?
I got started by doing a 99 second talk at TestBash(); in Manchester back in 2018. By standing up and being visible people got to see that I could talk in front of an audience (as well as proving that to myself). When I reached out to the Ministry of Test to ask if they needed any hosts, because they’d seen me do a talk before, they were happy to give me a go.
From there I got to talk to the team at TestBashX Edinburgh and we started making plans for my hosting. Originally this was pre-pandemic but that got pushed back and when the event was back on I was told that I was still the host!
I talk more about my journey into hosting in this MoT article.
Why do it? Why be a host?
Being a host is really fun! You get to attend the event and help people have an awesome time.
Getting the crowd excited – Both to be at the event through having high energy and telling (bad) jokes and for the talks by bigging up the speakers and the topic.
Getting the speakers excited – Pumping up the speakers by introducing them and being really interested in their talk. Also introducing them by talking about their accomplishments so that they know they’ve got this!
Being a game show host – I was the one with the scores on the board! I got to keep excitement going by awarding points to teams for social media engagement or even walking around in a cool way!
Obviously there’s some selfish personal reasons to get involves too:
- You’re talking at a conference without writing a talk
- It raises your profile in the testing community as people know who you are
- There’ll be loads of social media posts tagging you
- You can show you’re able to do public speaking