The View From Behind the Podium

Early in 2012 I decided that I would make this a learning year and then Someday, maybe in a year,  I would start working on presenting and sharing information with the SQL community. That was the plan. It was a good plan, but I am impatient.

At the February PASSMN meeting they announced a new segment of the meetings that they wanted to begin, New Local Speakers. The idea is for people in our community to get up in front of the room and share some of our SQL Server knowledge. When the meeting that night ended I didn’t think about it. I went up to Tim Plas, the PASSMN Director of Program Development, and said I would be willing to be the local speaker for March. I didn’t have any idea what I would talk about, but I knew it was time to start getting out in front of people. We traded some emails and I eventually decided to give a short segment on SSIS scripting using the Bing GeoCode Web Service as an example. I put together the presentation pretty quickly and researched everything to make sure I had my facts straight. I leared a few things about SSIS scripting just doing my fact checking so even if the talk was a bust I was already ahead of the game.

On March 20th I went to the PASSMN meeting very early to be available for figuring out lap top configurations and Live Meeting settings. I needn’t have worried they had all that figured out and I just had to walk up and plug in when my portion of the meeting started. Because of scheduling I would be going after the main speakers. (One of them had a plane to catch and needed to get out by 4:30.) This led to the interesting situation of having Thomas LaRock (B|T) and Jason Strate (B|T) be my opening act.

That’s right.

I had to follow two SQL Server MVPs giving a dynamic Choose Your Own Adventure presentation that was about 80% audience participation.  I can’t really do their presentation justice with a description and if I give too much detail it would include spoilers for when they put it on again. If you see this presentation listed at any SQL event this year sign up for it. You will laugh and you will learn. It was a great seminar and I probably would have been more engaged if I wasn’t beginning to get nervous.

I didn’t expect to be nervous. It was a room full of people who enjoy SQL Server as much as I do and I was giving a fifteen minute talk about something I had done several times before. I had practiced the talk several times over the weekend and tweaked it down from a one hour presentation with 8 slides and a demo to fifteen minutes with 2 slides and a demo. (If you were there that night all of the funny jokes were on the slides I had to cut, sorry.) I was beginning to wish I had picked a different demo because the Bing Maps API was not something I knew very well, but it was a cool way to use scripting and it allowed me to end with a good visual. Too late at this point to change and I learned that I should stick to things I know well for future presentations that I write up.

After Jason and Thomas left Steve Hughes (B|T), the PASSMN chair, announced me as a speaker. He made some other announcements while I hooked my computer in and then it was all me. I remember realizing about this time that my hands were shaking. Hopefully my voice wasn’t shaking as well.

I gave the talk without a lot of pauses to breathe and I thought it went ok. I got the information out that I wanted to (which was more about using the scripting task than the Bing Maps demo) and there were even several questions after I was done talking. When I was done it felt like a huge blur and while I hadn’t skipped any information, in my haste I did skip a couple of  jokes that I had planned. I have had several people compliment me on the job I did and someone sitting in the front row assured me that he couldn’t tell I was nervous. In the end I think going after the big names worked to my benefit. If I had talked first everyone probably would have quickly forgotten me, but I got several questions after the official meeting wrapped up and a couple of people in the community recognized me as “that-guy-who-talked-at-PASSMN” when I saw them at the SQL Server 2012 Special Ops Tour. (That was pretty cool I have to tell you.)

I am really glad I broke out of my comfort zone and did this. There was nothing negative about the experience and I think a lot of that can be attributed to the great SQL community we have here in Minnesota. I think they are still looking for local speakers to talk at upcoming meetings. What are you waiting for?


6 thoughts on “The View From Behind the Podium

  1. I’ll let my rural Ohioan write this comment – “You done good!”

    As I said at the Special Ops event, it wasn’t obvious that you were nervous, you seemed in complete control and delivered your content very well. It was a job well done…

  2. Absolutely- very well done. That’s exactly the type of content we want to share there, and is exactly the type of forum we wanted to make available –for people who might be nervous about doing a main-event presentation, but want to try their hand at it. This SQL community thing is all about sharing, and the more people doing that, the better.

    Thanks much for doing that.

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