Tips for the defense from existing VCDXs were one of the things that helped me the most preparing for mine.
one thing to note before we start is that each VCDX has it’s own experience and opinion about what’s right and sometimes VCDX A would say one thing and VCDX B would say the opposite, but that is just the nature of things as no one knows what is the rubric used to score a VCDX candidate and that includes me.
Take from this post what you think makes sense to you and i suggest you do the same from anything else you read or hear, except for Rene van der Bedem’s blog AKA @VCDX133 http://vcdx133.com , it is awesome.
Here are some tips from my personal experience, some might seem conflicting, that’s OK, one is not canceling the other, it’s a matter of balancing between them:
1. Know this, the panelists wants you to pass – They might act like a hostile customer but it doesn’t mean they are aiming to destroy you or grill you like shishkabab. Your application got accepted and that means it was checked thoroughly and you scored enough to be able to pass, as long as you are able to defend it of course.
2. Be confident in your defense – I was told by a few veteran VCDXs that many candidates don’t pass because when they get in-front of the panel they immediately lock or black out. Confidence is one of the qualities that will help you defend more convincingly and is a required trait for any architect. think about it, if an architect presents a designed solution to a customer with no confidence it will affect how the customer perceive the design. The thing that will make you the most confident is tip #3
3. Prepare for the defense as if your life depends on it- it might seem obvious to you (because it is) but just in case you thought otherwise ill mention this, you need do as many mocks as possible and study your documents to the smallest detail. There is no such thing as too much preparation and not knowing your own documents is almost as bad as having a blackout. on a second thought better to blackout.
4. Don’t be arrogant or argumentative – If the panelists “get you” on something that you can’t defend just admit the mistake and try to move on, don’t waste time on useless arguments. The trick is not to have too many mistakes (duh) .
5. The presentation is crucial but not because of the reasons you think- you probably won’t use a fraction of it. Yes, you read me right, all the ~90 backup slides you are preparing might not be used. It’s the preparation of the presentation that get’s you to pass not the presentation itself, you are supposed to know all the backup slides by heart when you finish studying for the defense (an evening before). So 90% of the questions you will be able to answer without wasting time on useless clicks.
6. Form a study group with candidates from the same region so that you can study together the days before the defense. For me and Goose partnering with @robertquast, @VMprime and @elgwhoppo was profoundly helpful, our presentation changed 180 degrees during the 4 days before our defense, mainly we changed it from being overly technical to more business focused. We all did mock for each other and didnt rush it to get to our own mock, each one got full attention from the group. There is a lot of value in helping your peers as you learn from it your self.
7. Have fun before the defense – conduct the study group near the place they will be held if possible and try to have fun while doing so otherwise you will exhaust your brain. After all you don’t rest too much these days.
Note – Dress code not so important, every one has their own threads style, its your architect skills that are being tested.
Another note – It is not helpful to try and learn who are your potential panelists, it will scare the bejezus out of you if you meet someone you think is a crazy smart dude on your panel. You better off not knowing them when you enter the room.
Here is a link to the VCDX series