Most Active Speaker

Damian Synadinos

Damian Synadinos

Building Better People

Columbus, Ohio, United States


For more than 25 years, Damian Synadinos helped “build better software and build software better” through testing. Now, through his company Ineffable Solutions (, he helps “build better people”. As an international speaker and trainer, he delivers keynotes, talks, and workshops that are fun, focused on fundamental topics and people-skills, based on real-world experience, and supplemented with deep research. His diverse experience spans many roles, companies, and industries, including airline, retail, insurance, finance, e-commerce, and commercial realty. Damian also helped organize the "QA or the Highway" testing conference ( for 7 years, has over 10 years of theatrical improv experience, authored and illustrated the children’s book “Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing” (, substitute teaches at primary schools, and draws strangers for fun (


  • Most Active Speaker 2023

Area of Expertise

  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Media & Information
  • Business & Management
  • Humanities & Social Sciences
  • Government, Social Sector & Education


  • Soft Skills
  • Software testing
  • Testing
  • QA&Testing
  • Communication
  • Empathy

Word Smatter: Exploring Semantics, Testers, and Problems

“Testers [do|don’t] (help) [prevent|detect] problems.”

Throughout my career, I’ve encountered numerous variations of this phrase and discussed the underlying ideas often. The phrase uses just a few, small words to express many, big ideas. And so, it is valuable and critical to understand what each word means individually in order to better understand the ideas they convey collectively.

Semantics is the study of meaning in words. The session begins with a brief and broad overview of semantics and related ideas. This sets the stage for deep analysis of each individual word in the phrase above and its potential meaning. We collaboratively consider:

Testers – What might this word mean to different people and in different contexts?
Do/Don’t – What do normative and descriptive statements have to do with it?
Help – How does the inclusion/exclusion of this word affect the meaning of the phrase?
Prevent/Detect – What does causality and relativism have to do with which word we choose?
Problems – What exactly is the thing that is being prevented or detected?

This session demystifies and promotes semantics, and goes beyond wordplay to introduce critical concepts that have practical impacts on testers, their roles, and their responsibilities.

Tech and tools are cool, but without the ability to express ideas effectively, it is all moot. This talk helps attendees communicate more clearly.

Talking About Talking

I began speaking professionally in 2016. I began speaking at conferences in 2014. I began speaking in 1973.

In this informal, educational, and enjoyable session, I will offer lessons learned from a lifetime of formal and informal talking. I will share, and we will discuss (among other things):

Why – I began speaking at conferences, and why you might, too.
What – Topics I select, and which might work for you.
How – I create a talk, and how you can develop ideas.

Come prepared to ask and answer questions as we collaboratively converse, and “talk about talking”!

Let me help YOU develop the next generation of conference speakers!

The Hidden Requirements: Exploring Emotions with Placebos

Traditionally, products and services are focused on various functional and non-functional requirements (things the product or service should be or do). While this is important, there has been a lack of focus on emotional requirements (feelings that the the product or service should induce in its users). Why is this important?

Because the way we feel is important and should be considered!

A bold claim? Perhaps. And, as with any claim, it should be supported with evidence. In this talk, I stress the importance of emotional requirements and support the claim by providing relevant facts, opinions, statistics, quotations, examples, hypotheticals, and more. Once I’ve sufficiently supported the claim, I offer a few practical methods by which to gather, induce, and test emotional requirements. Finally, I use placebos as lens to view systems and gain insight into emotional requirements.

Join me for a thoughtful and thorough exploration of The Hidden Requirements!

IMHO, this is the single, biggest problem in modern product and service development. If you disagree, it is likely because you haven't seen this talk!

Something from Nothing

Improv(isational) theater is, essentially, making something from nothing. Performers create and perform spontaneously, without a script, props, or costumes.

Sound difficult or scary? In fact, anyone can do it, and the "rules" of improv - principles and skills that are as useful on stage as they are at play and in life - can be learned.

In this educational and enjoyable session, kids will learn, discuss, and practice a few, basic improv “rules”. Things like “focusing on the present”, “ways to get and explore ideas”, “how to react to accidents and mistakes”, “the importance of practice”, and “the benefits of diversity”. Through a reading of "Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing", each “rule” will be described, discussed (to understand how it can help in different contexts), and demonstrated (with improv games and volunteers).

So come and laugh while you learn to improvise and make "something from nothing"!

Something from Nothing

Improv(isational) theater is, essentially, making something from nothing - performers create and perform shows spontaneously, without a script, props, or costumes. But, to be successful at improv, you should learn, practice, and use a few, fundamental improv "rules" - principles and skills that are as useful on stage as they are at play, in school, and with life.

"Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing" is a children's storybook - written in rhyme with bright illustrations- that introduces kids to improv and a few improv "rules" to help them develop their imaginations and confidence, play cooperatively and collaboratively, and understand the value and benefits of practice and diversity.

In this session, I read and discuss the book, and then play a few improv games that are safe, fun, age-appropriate, and demonstrate the ideas in the book.

Join us for some improv, and laugh while you learn!

I have done this "session" as an Author Visit at elementary schools around central Ohio. See for more info.

Is This [Joke] Appropriate?

Both personally and professionally, there is risk in everything that we think, do, or say. Including jokes! An inappropriate joke can lead to undesirable consequences.

But, how can you avoid undesirable consequences? How can you tell if a joke is inappropriate? How can you assess the risk?

This talk will address these questions, introduce and demonstrate a framework that helps assess risk, and show how it all applies to you in your context.

Learn how to reduce undesirable consequences and much more as we explore Risk Assessment, Analysis, and Mitigation in a safe, topical, different, and fun way!

Risk Analysis talks are boring and forgettable. This talk is neither.

Suitable for anyone interested in risk and avoiding undesirable consequences. Get more info at

More Than That

“What do you do?”

It’s a frequent first question asked at parties, networking events, and bad dates. And sadly, the answer often includes the word “just”.

When our identity is dominated by our professional image, it can be limiting! Even those that “live to work” have other facets which may contain hidden value. And so, perhaps a more interesting question is, “Who are you?” But, how should you answer?

In this session, Damian uses crowd work, humor, improv, personal stories, and more to examine our identities, explore our interests, confront anxiety, and find inspiration from unexpected sources. Join him to laugh, learn, and “unjust yourself” as you unlock your true potential and rediscover Who You Are!

An unrealized worker is one that isn't offering their full potential. This talk helps combat that.

Improv(e) Your Testing!

Improvisational comedy—sometimes called improv—is a form of theater in which the performance is created in the moment. Successful improv involves learning and using a variety of skills and techniques which allow performers to quickly adapt to a constantly changing environment and new information. Now reread the previous sentence, but replace the word improv with testing.

In many ways, improv is a great analogy for testing. As both an experienced improviser and tester, Damian Synadinos presents some of the many similarities between improv and testing. Each improv tip and trick is thoroughly described and demonstrated with help from the audience. Damian then explains and shows how the very same idea can be applied in a testing context. Using creative metaphors and critical analysis, old ideas about testing are reframed in novel and notable ways.

Whether novice or experienced, you are sure to laugh, learn, and leave with ways to help improv(e) your testing!

Improv(e) Your Requirements!

Improvisational comedy—sometimes called improv—is a form of theater in which the performance is created spontaneously, in the moment. Successful improvisers learn and use a variety of skills and techniques which allow them to better extract ideas, expand on them, and make them meaningful and manifest. Now reread the previous sentence, but replace the word “improvisers” with “analysts”. In many ways, improv is a great analogy for requirement elicitation, analysis, and specification.

In this highly interactive session, Damian Synadinos uses his extensive experience with improv and requirements to explain and demonstrate similarities between the two. After setting context and expectations, Damian introduces and discusses a few basic concepts that are essential to developing valuable requirements. Building on those ideas, he continues by describing and demonstrating (with help from the audience) some basic principles of improv. He then explains and shows how the very same ideas might also be useful in a requirements context. By using creative analogies and critical analysis, old ideas are reframed and presented in new, novel, and notable ways.

Whether you are a requirements creator or consumer, you are sure to laugh, learn, and leave with ways to help improv(e) your requirements!

See for more info.

Damian Synadinos

Building Better People

Columbus, Ohio, United States


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