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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SQL Saturday Exeter–What’s the Point? My Experience of 2013 SQLSatExeter

 

Disclaimer – I am on the committee organising the next SQL Saturday Exeter. To be kept up to date about SQL Saturday #269 in the South West, follow @SQLSatExeter and#SQLSatExeter on twitter and see details at the bottom. This post is about my experience at this years event.

In March this year the SQL South West User Group hosted SQL Saturday #194 in Exeter. I was a new member to the User Group having finally been able to join them for the first time in January. At that meeting Chris Testa O’Neill presented a session and was very passionate about the SQL Community and the benefit of the SQL Saturdays and other events.  I am always keen to learn new things and find ways of developing my skills. As I haven’t won the lottery I also look out for good deals as well!!

SQL SATURDAY PRE-CONS ARE EXCEPTIONAL VALUE

It was relatively easy to persuade my bosses to pay for my pre-con. For £150 I was able to spend a whole day in a room with about a dozen people being trained in SQL Server Security by Denny Cherry @mrdenny. The conversation went along the lines of

“I want to go to this training session being delivered by this guy. Link to MVP page. It’s £150 and is in Exeter so no other costs required”

My boss – “OK”

Of course there was a little more fun and games to be had with the payment but it was easy for me to get training sorted and £150 is not going to break the training budget.

Looking back through my notes from the session today I realise quite how much I have taken from it into my role at work. I can’t really comment which and what though that wouldn’t be good security!!

I remember an enjoyable day with plenty of technical learning, a lot of questions and answers and plenty of laughs as well. But more than that was the opportunity to mix with other professionals and talk with them. During the breaks and at lunch there were plenty of opportunities to chew the fat, learn how others do things, make new friends and put faces to twitter handles. (NOTE : I do look pretty much like my twitter profile picture so if you see me at SQL Community events I expect you to come up and say hi, that’s part of the benefit of attending these events, having a good natter)

Take a look at the end of this post for details of 2014 Pre-Cons

SQL SATURDAY – CAN’T GET CHEAPER THAN FREE

SQL Saturdays are FREE

SQL Saturdays offer sessions from internationally renowned and local SQL speakers on subjects relevant to you and your job, your future career, your development plan or just to challenge yourself by learning about something outside of your comfort zone. For Nothing. Add in the networking opportunities, the prizes from the sponsors, (if you were at Exeter this year the beer and the pasty) and if you added it up its a sizeable investment in yourself, your career and your development (did I mention a free beer and pasty?)

NOT BAD FOR FREE!!

To enable that, SQL Saturday organisers have to go out and talk sponsors into putting their hands into their pockets. They will only do that if it is worthwhile to them. You can make it easier for the organisers by going and spending time with the sponsors during the breaks, chatting with them and giving them your details. Also, if you choose to use one of their products please tell the sponsors you spoke to them at a SQL Saturday. They are (usually) data professionals who will record that and use that to make future decisions which will we hope include sponsoring SQL Saturdays.

This year on the Saturday I went to the following sessions

A temporary fix for a short term problem by Ian Meade
Advanced SQL Server 2012 HA and DR Architectures by Christian Bolton
Busting common T-SQL myths by Dave Morrison
Power View and the Cube by Régis Baccaro
Natural Born Killers, performance issues to avoid by Richard Douglas
Tracking server performance without slowing it down by Jonathan Allen which I also Room Monitored
Increasing Business and IT collaboration by Chris Testa-O’Neill

It was a really good day. I learnt so much from all those knowledgeable and talented people. It really kicked me on in my development at work. I was able to take from each of those sessions and use that knowledge to do my job better and I made new friends and new contacts. Just going back to my notes today has reminded me of something that I need to look into for work Smile Some of the conversations I have had at events this year have been fascinating – learning how other people do the same thing you do in a completely different but equally valid way,  problem-solving with a different set and type of minds than the ones at MyWork, laughing at the same things and moaning about similar frustrations. All have been both entertaining and rewarding and I think are worth mentioning as things I enjoyed about going to SQL Community events this year and play a part in the reason I shall continue to go to them (Just hope my boss doesn’t read this and think he won’t have to pay as I will go anyway!)

It’s busy and hectic, the sessions come along thick and fast and there are lots of people around to talk to. I wish I had made use of the SQL Saturday mobile phone app and I definitely recommend researching ahead of time and planning your day out.

This years sessions have not been decided yet but I have seen some of the submissions and there are some fabulous sessions there. You could also submit a session yourself. Choosing the sessions will be tough, but we want to offer the opportunity to speak to as many people as possible both new and experienced speakers.

You can submit your sessions at this link http://www.sqlsaturday.com/269/callforspeakers.aspx

ROUND-UP SQL SATURDAY EXETER WHY WOULDN’T YOU COME

For a newbie, as I was last time, SQL Saturday Exeter was a revelation.

An opportunity to learn without spending thousands of my own or MyWorks money to sit in a lecture room and listen to a trainer.

A chance to develop my understanding in a friendly environment amongst my peers where I could ask questions.

A place to meet new people and build relationships who have helped me with situations at work throughout the year. I reckon I’m in credit already

This year I have attended SQL Bits and SQL Saturday Cambridge and this month I shall be at SQL Relay in Cardiff and in Bristol. That all started with SQL Saturday 194 in Exeter 2013

WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEARS SQL SATURDAY EXETER?

Next years SQL Saturday in Exeter, SQL Saturday #269, will be held at the same place – Jury’s Inn Hotel Exeter on March 21/22nd 2014.

We had such amazing submissions for our pre-cons that we have had to find more rooms to be able to fit them all in.. You can see for yourself the quality of the sessions and speakers for SQL Saturday Exeter 2014 at the following link

http://sqlsouthwest.co.uk/sql-saturday-269-precon-training-day-details/

What do you think? I want to split myself into 8 and go to every one!

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?

I suggest that you should book Saturday 22nd March 2014 out in your calendar right this minute. Done that? Good.

Now go to this link

http://www.sqlsaturday.com/269/

and register for FREE to attend and let us know @SQLSatExeter

Next make yourself a coffee (Other beverages are available) and head to the pre-con page

http://sqlsouthwest.co.uk/sql-saturday-269-precon-training-day-details/

This bit is up to you, the choice is hard. I can’t tell you which one of our eight fabulous sessions you want to go to. It’s not for me to say which amazing speaker you want to spend a day with for a bargain price but if you need further info please get in touch and we will try and help. Unfortunately our human cloning experiment is not stable enough to allow you to go to more than one!

Then, let me know you have done so and come and say hi when you are here.