Eric D. Schabell: JBoss Technology Evangelist - 3 keys to becoming an evangelist

Friday, November 6, 2015

JBoss Technology Evangelist - 3 keys to becoming an evangelist

A questions I often get is, "What is it that a JBoss Technology Evangelist does?"

After spending a minute on a short overview, the next question is almost always, "How can I get a role like that?"

Leaving it to the reader to research the background of the word 'evangelist', we will instead outline the key characteristics that every effective JBoss Technology Evangelist has.

JBoss is a community of middleware community projects that are then leveraged by Red Hat to produce a full range of JBoss middleware products. While Red Hat employs Developer Advocates to promote these community projects and foster developer focus on JBoss technologies, it is the products Red Hat sells that receive a more focused attention. This focus is provided for each product by a JBoss Technology Evangelist,

 What is it that they do exactly and what can you do to align your efforts so that your path leads to a role as a JBoss Technology Evangelist?

1. Teaching core

The JBoss Technology Evangelist is worldwide actively promoting, creating and delivering technical marketing assets that drive technical audiences to purchase or influence purchase of Red Hat JBoss Middleware Integration products & services. The JBoss Technology Evangelist will try to focus efforts towards results that are highly leveraged, but may also be required to help in more specialized efforts such as helping close a specific customer. The JBoss Technology Evangelist has significant technical sales enablement responsibility and also helps influence JBoss Middleware product direction by internally communicating requirements and opportunities learned through prospect and customer interactions.

The bottom line is that if you peel back the outer layers of a JBoss Technology Evangelist, the core will always be that of a teacher. They need to have a desire, no a passion, to want to teach what they know. 

This might start with an audience of just one as they mentor a junior colleague and eventually range into audiences of thousands as you present sessions live on stage at an event. This teaching can be structured, such as getting experience as guest teacher in formal schools or universities or it can be through teaching technical classes for an employer. It can be through hosting workshops after working hours to pass on knowledge to your colleagues or it can be as simple as posting articles showing the reader how to do something.  

The bottom line is that if you are not a teacher at heart, then this role is not for you.

2.  Storytelling

A JTE has a proven understanding of what it takes to motivate technical audiences and ability to translate that understanding into impactful execution that converts developer awareness and preference into revenue. 

There is nothing you can teach if you can't bring it across to audiences. This might be to a single person, a small group or large diverse audiences that come from culturally diverse backgrounds around the world.

It is more than presenting slides, it is the ability to bring across your enthusiasm for the topic(s) you are trying to teach. It is not enough to stand up and demo a new technology and talk to a few slides. You need to have a way to understand and reach the audience, reading their reactions, adjusting your story if the audience that turns up is not the one promised when you designed your talk.

You need to practice your storytelling and spend time researching how others do it. Look into styles like PetchaKucha with stores told in 20 slides each auto advanced every 20 seconds, no control by the presenter. Expanding your horizons on how to tell your stories will make you a better storyteller.

You also need to reach more than just an audience sitting right in front of you, so producing content online in the form of articles, video content and maintaining a social media presence are all essential extensions of how you apply storytelling. We tell stories in books, papers, articles and by covering our topics online with social media.

Each form of storytelling requires different abilities and needs to be demonstrated before you can obtain the role of JBoss Technology Evangelist. You should have at least one, if not more, places online where you publish your articles. You should have an online social media presence to push out your content and start discussions around your topics.

Storytelling is an art and you have to constantly refine your approach, but the bottom line is can you reach your audiences and have an impact?

3. Technology skills

A proven ability to create high-quality, compelling technical marketing content proven charismatic ability to energize and excite technical audiences for middleware product offerings.

You can't be a technical evangelist without some sort of skills, but it is not just being able to code. You need to understand the organization required to create content and demos that are both repeatable and easy for your audiences to use.

With the myriad of platforms that your target audiences are using, you need to make your demos accessible and reusable as the main point of these are to replace you doing them yourself on site. Remember, you are the expert and you don't scale!

The technology content you provide has to not only be interesting, cover the topics or issues desired, but it also has to be so easy to use that any attempt to redo what you have just done live on stage does not end in a call to you for help. If you have to answer questions around how to use your content, you have failed.

Previously posted is this article on how to use a framework and template that has been successfully used for JBoss demo projects hosted on JBoss Demo Central for years.


If you can take these three keys and work on them in your daily roles, you too can reach out for the next opening as a JBoss Technology Evangelist. Remember, you have to teach, you have to be able to tell stories, and you have to leverage your technology skill set in a way that is easy to both understand and consume.
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This is not the all encompassing guide to becoming a JBoss Technology Evangelist, but in my experience they are the top three things that make someone effective and successful in the role.

They can be learned, they can be refined and if you are serious about moving into the role, they are the three things you should focus on starting right now.