The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This is about my first SQL Saturday speaking experience.

I’ve seen a lot of great sessions by PASS community members over the last 5 years, and thought I’d like to give it a try.  Local events here on my island are few and far between, so its been easy to not do anything about it.  But since I’ve taken on the lead of the local SQL Server user group I suddenly have an opportunity to give presentations locally.  One thing leads to another and I submitted a session to SQL Saturday Edmonton and was selected as a speaker.

The Good:

The process of putting together the presentation was interesting.  Taking a topic and breaking it down into a logical progression of theory and instruction took longer than I thought it would.  I learned that indeed, the best way to learn a thing is to prepare to teach it!  Even though I’ve had lots of hands-on experience with the topic I presented, I was still forced to learn the parts I’d never needed to use, and its history, and to look for alternatives, etc.

I gave the talk locally before heading to SQL Saturday.  I had been nervous about getting questions, but turns out I don’t mind getting questions because I got lots of them both times and I think I handled them well.  The questions were generally of the “I’m having a light bulb moment and need to ask you if this tool will help me with my issue” type rather than the “you’re not explaining this well and I have to ask for clarification” type, which gave me a sense that the asker was really getting something out of the presentation.

The Bad:

I figured I’d be nervous during the presentation and prone to forget some important points, so I loaded my PowerPoint with notes for my own reference.  This worked well enough when I presented the session locally at the user group, but at SQL Saturday the connection was such that the audience saw what was on my screen, so no presenter view for me! No notes or timer!  Big oops.  I got off to a rocky start and I know I missed some points.  Maybe a lot of them.

Lesson learned: if I need notes, have them on paper, too.  Also have some other timer handy.

The Beautiful:

Fooled you, there’s no ugly.  I’m glad I did it.  I plan to do it again.  I asked for session evaluations and got 6.  I’m well aware that it could have gone better (see The Bad) but the evaluations were positive.  Between the evaluations and the questions, I’m confident that at least some people got something out of the session.  That’s enough for me to keep at it.

Giving Back (T-SQL Tuesday #102)

TSQL2SDAY-300x300This seems like as good a time to start a blog as any, as I feel like 2018 is the year I start giving back to this community. I’ve been a member of PASS since the first year I went to Summit in 2013 and I’ve learned a lot from the members of PASS. The pathways to learning have been varied, but I have really benefited from presentations, blog posts, hallway track, and even twitter. I wanted to give back, but was not prepared to take on more commitments until recently. My kids are getting older and lately don’t need their mommy quite like they used to.

At last Summit I committed to organizing a SQL Saturday for my area for early March. When I was preparing for it I realized I was too out of the loop with regard to my local tech scene. Over the last couple years the local user group had dried up and I wasn’t getting out and meeting people. So I became the leader of the local defunct user group and as soon as SQL Saturday was over I secured a venue and started setting up meetings for the local user group.

Our first meeting was a meet and greet to gauge interest. A dozen people came and they were enthusiastic and contributed ideas. The next month I presented a session and again the attendees were engaged. I have speakers lined up until summer break and plan to have at least 3 meetings in the fall.

Did you notice in the previous paragraph that *I* presented a session? You may not be aware that that was a significant statement. I had not done that before. The even more significant part is that I did it AGAIN last weekend at SQL Saturday in Edmonton. I plan to work at giving more presentations, by developing another session to present locally in the fall and by submitting to more events.

I’m also an organizer for the Professional Development virtual chapter. We just hosted a presentation and have two more in the pipe.  You can expect life from that group again.