Speaking? You? Go on. #tsql2sday #84

This is a blog post for this month’s T-SQL Tuesday post, hosted by Andy Yun (b|t). T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog event started by Adam Machanic (b|t). The T-SQL Tuesday topic this month was about advice for new speakers. Thanks Andy for hosting. I have created a channel in the SQL Server Community Slack for presenting which everyone can make use of to ask and to answer questions

I think you should share what you know with others.

You will be amazing.

I will give you some great advice I learnt from a fantastic person’s blog post

  1. Start speaking
  2. Keep going
  3. Listen to feedback
  4. That’s it.

Kendra has said it all, you don’t need to read any further 😉

 

 

 

 

However..

Not all plain sailing

I love giving sessions but I never knew or thought that I would. My journey to speaking started at my SQL user group in Exeter and two fabulous people Jonathan and Annette Allen who encouraged me to share some PowerShell with the group. I was terrified, didn’t think I was worthy, my HDMI output wasn’t strong enough to power the projector, I had to transfer my slides and demo to Jonathans laptop. It was a fraught and frustrating experience.

My second presentation was done on Stuart Moores MacBook Pro using Office Online for presentations and Azure for demos. Again a change right at the last minute and using a machine I didn’t know (and a different keyboard set-up).

Stuff will go wrong. Murphy’s Law will always show his head somewhere and no matter how often you test and re-test your demos, sometimes an odd thing will make them stop working

There will be problems and issues, you can mitigate some of them by following the 6 P’s

Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance.

You can read some great blog posts in this T-SQL Tuesday Series and also this one from Steve Jones or any of these But also accept that these things happen and you must be prepared to shine on through the darkness if the power runs out or use pen and paper or even plastic cups like John Martin 🙂

You never know you might enjoy it

I found I enjoyed it and wanted to do more and since then I have presented sessions in a wide variety of places. It was very strange to have been sat watching and listening to all of these fantastic presenters thinking I could never do that and then find out that actually it is something that I enjoy doing and find fun. You can do that too.

Equally, it’s ok to not enjoy it, think its not worth the stress and hassle and support the community in a different way but at least give it a go

You will be nervous

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I shared a train across Germany with someone who had attended the PSMonday conference in Munich and they were astonished when I said that I get very nervous before speaking. It’s ok to be nervous, the trick is to make use of that nervous energy and turn it into something positive.

I get very nervous before presentations. My hands shake, I sweat, I either babble or loose my voice. I fret and fidget and check everything a thousandillion times. I find it is better for me if I am sat in the room during the previous presentation as that generally helps me to feel more relaxed as I can listen to their talk and also out of respect for the presenter and the organisation it forces me to sit quietly.

You will find your own way to deal with this, maybe listening to music on headphones or just sitting quietly somewhere. Don’t worry if it is not immediately obvious, try some different things, talk with others and believe me, it will be ok.

Don’t try to numb it with alcohol

Once I get up and its ‘my’ turn I take a few deep breaths and suddenly presenter turns on and I forget all about being nervous.

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Something to talk about

I have nothing to talk about.

Or everyone else knows more than I do.

Or X Y and Z talk about this much better than I do.

I’m scared

Richard Munn and I gave an impromptu session at SQL Relay in Cardiff where we talked about and hopefully encouraged people to start speaking and these statements came up.

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Heres (a little of) what we said

No-one knows everything. Many people know a hell of a lot but not everything. You know a lot more than you realise and you also know things that no-one else does.

If you are stuck for things to talk about think about the you of 6 months or a year ago and something that you have learnt in that time and write the session that you wish you could have seen then. There will be other people at a similar stage who will appreciate it.

Don’t be scared, they are only people.

Practice

My dog is the one person who has been present at my presentations the most. He has listened (sometimes intently) to me practicing.

You need to practice speaking out loud.

You need to understand the timings

You need to be comfortable with hearing yourself speaking out aloud

You need to practice speaking out loud

A double reminder because I think it is important. You should practice and practice and practice with an eye on your timings and if you have a good friend who is technical or a small group at work for a lunchtime maybe then ask them if they will listen and give feedback.

Wanna chat?

I am very passionate about community involvement and lucky enough to be involved in two fantastic communities – the SQL community and the PowerShell community and have made some great friends along the way. I was amazed and proud when very soon after my second presentation someone told me that I had inspired them to start to present.

Since then I have gone out of my way to encourage other people to speak and to blog and am really enjoying watching them blossom. If you want to have a chat via email or via slack about speaking or blogging or getting involved in the community please feel free to contact me and I promise you I will get back to you. Better still go to the SQL Community Slack and ask questions in #presentingorspeaking

Go find out more

We are good at sharing and learning technical content but we can share and learn about so much more, about all aspects of our life. Go and read all of the other posts in this T-SQL Tuesday for starters 🙂 and develop

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Lessons Learnt from my first talk at SQL SouthWest

The timing was good enough that I could offer to do a talk based on my previous post on Windows Azure for my SQL User Group SQL SouthWest when Jonathan and Annette.( @FatherJack and @MrsFatherJack) put out a call for volunteers.

I did my best with the 7 P’s. I ran through it at lunchtime, I made sure I had power and a HDMI lead after checking with Jonathan, I got a glass of water. I knew the first line I was going to say

However, I neglected to check that I would have HDMI in at the location so everything that was on my laptop was useless! My laptop did very odd things to the USB stick when I tried to transfer to Jonathans laptop and he didn’t have Powershell V3 installed so whilst Neil Hambly @Neil_Hambly from Confio was speaking I was busy ignoring a very interesting talk on Waits to install and configure Powershell Azure on my Azure VM. Sorry Neil.

But in the end it more or less worked and we are lucky to have such a patient and supportive user group who helped me along the way as well. Thank you folks

Things I took away from the evening

  1. Double check you have all the connections
  2. Practice and Practice some more
  3. Think about the times when something is running and what you will say when there is nothing to see
  4. Presenting completely inside a RDP session adds unnecessary complication
  5. The Demo Gods WILL hit you and the curse of the red text will fall upon you during the presentation. Accept it and move on.
  6. Have an opening line
  7. Remember to breath (especially when the demo falls over)
  8. Enjoy it!

It didn’t go perfectly but people gave me some good feedback and I am pleased to say that I have pointed people towards something new that will help them and passed over my knowledge and that to me is what the SQL Community is all about. I have a load of other ideas for things I can talk about and blog about so it is going to be a very busy time for me as I work my way through them and do all the other exciting things coming my way in the SQL world.

Visit your own User Group – You can find them here http://www.sqlpass.org/

If you are in the South West UK then come and join our group. Free training and conversation with like minded people once a month and pizza too what could be better!!