This month’s host for T-SQL Tuesday is Bob Pusateri (B|T) and he has a very timely question for those of in the SQL community here in the Midwest. As I mentioned in my last post I will be presenting three times this month and there is also the PASS Business Analysis Conference in Chicago this week. With all of that great SQL knowledge being shared, Bob has asked us to talk about why we do what we do. Why do we enjoy presenting so much?
There is a factoid that people like to throw out all the time about how people fear public speaking more than death. So why would I and my fellow SQL Speakers choose to get up and present to a live studio audience? For most of us we are volunteering our time so it can’t be for the wealth. It might be a little bit for the fame, but if adulation from the masses is what you seek there is probably a better path. That leaves happiness as the last big motivator and in a round about way I think that might be the answer. I present because it makes me happy.
If that answer surprises you, then you are not alone. When I sat down to write the answer to this question I didn’t expect to land on, “Speaking makes me happy”. In fact at the core of it I think my reasons for speaking are a little selfish (more on that later). There are people out there who think about happiness a lot more than I do and Gretchen Rubin is one of them. She has a blog and a book called The Happiness Project and there are a couple of tidbits from her blog that I believe speak to why presenting makes me happy. The first one is one of her eight splendid truths:
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
More the first part than the second. I believe that there is probably at least one person who left my presentation this past weekend happier and more energized about the SSIS Catalog than when they sat down. Can I say that about everyone who listened to me? No way. I am going to need to get much better at this for that to happen. I just started this SQL Speaking a little over a year ago and I still have a lot to learn. However if everyone in the room did leave happier and more excited than when they came in, how cool would that be? Getting that response would probably urge me to be a better speaker in the long run. It is a pretty great feedback loop. The other piece of advice from Gretchen I am using is:
She references a psychology article that boils down to this: learning and doing something new can be challenging and add stress in the short-term, but adds to happiness in the long-term. Public speaking takes me out of my comfort zone quite a bit. I am nervous for the entire day until my session is over, but while I am up in front of the group talking it can be quite a rush. I think my nerves come from the fear of looking like I don’t know what I am talking about or just being an awful speaker, but so far no one has yelled at me to sit down or thrown any rotten fruit. (I don’t steal all of my wisdom from one place but I can’t help pointing out that one of Gretchen’s secrets of adulthood is People don’t notice your mistakes and flaws as much as you think.)
I think I may have strayed a bit form the original question, but my desire to present right now is tied very heavily with my desire to be a part of the SQL Community. I have been attending events for a few years and last year I decided to get involved. From the examples around me (Jason Strate, Jess Borland, Steve Hughes, Mark Vaillancourt and others) the way to get involved seemed to be to share the things that I have figured out. And for me, figuring things out is definitely part of the fun. I enjoy learning new things (as I think most people in IT do) and when I take the time to write a presentation and explain a concept to other people I always learn something new. Sometimes I learn something in my research, but about half the time I learn something new from the other people in the room.
Lest you think I am all rainbows and unicorns I should confess that the cynical part of me also wanted to get involved with presenting to help my career. I think a little bit of that ambition is pretty normal (and if I am wrong, I’ll probably hear about it). Of course if my career continues to grow as a result of my involvement and I get to do more interesting work that would probably make me…