I didn’t think my first blog post on LTD would be for a T-SQL Tuesday, but this month’s topic was so timely for me I had no choice but to participate.
In case you don’t know, T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blogging event, with a different community host each month. This month’s host is Bob Pusateri and the topic is all about presenting. It just so happens, I’ve started doing a bit of that lately!
So, how did I come to love presenting? I starting doing it. It sounds so simple, right? Well, let me assure you, it was anything but.
Those of you who know me, know that I am not often at a loss for words and the term loud has been used to describe me on more than one occasion. I have an extrovert streak in me, but that only applies if I know you or I am quite comfortable in the group setting I am in. I was never driven towards public speaking when in school and it was not something I pursued on my own. These are both things that I now regret.
Over the last couple of years I have been making a conscious effort to expand that extroverted streak and have become something of a compulsive volunteer. I am in my second year on the PASSMN board, during which time I have planned a SQL Saturday and now serve as Chapter Leader, which yes, includes some monthly speaking duties. I have volunteered in other capacities for PASS as well. Despite all of this, standing up in front of a large group, and putting myself out there to be knowledgeable enough to instruct others, was never something I had an interest in doing. If push came to shove, it was something I could do. I did not have a debilitating fear. I simply lacked the initiative/proper motivation to take those next steps. So what helped changed my mind you ask? This community.
I have been fortunate to be introduced to many, what I consider to be great, speakers over the last couple of years and many have shared stories with me about how they started out. To my surprise their stories mirrored mine. Is it possible that these experts were once in my shoes? Indeed.
Then came a couple of personal interactions, with current speakers, which turned the tide for me.
At SQL Saturday Portland 2012 I hung out with Jason Horner (t) a good deal. Yes, I survived. 🙂 I’m not sure if he remembers this but he asked me twice “if you were going to speak, what would you speak on?”. He was a speaker at the event. This definitely got me thinking and I started tossing around a few ideas in my head. A few days later I found myself in Seattle at Summit 2012. At the PASS Volunteer Party I ran into Luke Jian (b | t). Luke had recently spoken at SQL Saturday Minnesota and I had first met him at SQL Saturday Madison 2011. Luke asked me point blank “when are we going to get you speaking!?”. I hemmed and hawed, somewhat avoiding the question, and actually answered with a well thought out “oh, I don’t know”. Luke’s response: “how about Madison, next year?” I wasn’t sure of it at the time, but a timeline had been set.
Using PASSMN as my “practice venue”, I delivered my first UG presentation in March and just delivered the same presentation at my first SQL Saturday, in Madison. Was I nervous, absolutely! Did I let it stop me, absolutely not. In fact, both presentations went very well. I am now, without a doubt, in love with presenting.
So what is my advice for someone, like me, just starting out? Throw yourself, head first, into the SQL Server community. Find a speaker you respect and pick their brain a bit. Odds are they won’t bite and are willing to provide valuable insight. Feel free to ping me anytime for advice!
Thanks to Bob for hosting this topic. As I said…. it is very timely for me!