For the past two Saturday’s I have been lucky enough to not only participate in but also present at a SQL Saturday. It has been an honor to be selected as a presenter when there have been so many great speakers to choose from. If you haven’t been to a SQL Saturday before, or it’s been awhile since your last one, I encourage you to check out the SQL Saturday website and find one near you to attend. They are a great way to learn about SQL Server at a very low cost. Not only do you get a wide range of sessions to choose from, you also get a chance to meet a ton of people who work with the same software you do.
SQL Saturday 70 – Columbia, SC
This was the second time I was presenting my Service Broker session and I was really looking forward to it. I started the day with Sandra Mueller’s (Blog | Twitter) session on SSRS Automation. My session was scheduled for 11AM, the third session of the day, and as such I spent the second session of the day reviewing my slides and demos. I was pleased to have about 10 people in my session and it went really well. The audience participated and we had a number of good discussions during the session. One of the most valuable discussions for me happened after my session and throughout lunch. Chris Skorlinski (Blog | Twitter) had sat through my session and was kind enough to give me feedback and suggestions on how I could improve not only my presentation but also myself as a speaker. The discussion we had was very valuable and I can’t thank Chris enough for his insights. It’s things like this that make SQL Saturday’s invaluable for new speakers. Great constructive feedback from experienced speakers can help new speakers improve their skills.
After lunch and a great conversation with Chris, I got the chance to attend two sessions. First, I attended Jessica Moss’s (Blog | Twitter) “Adding SSRS Report Bells & Whistles” and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great session that offered a good insights into how to display your data in different ways and take your reports from dull and plain to professional and really wow the business users. As a speaker, I even picked up a few ideas and techniques to hopefully improve my own speaking and presentation skills.
For the final session of the day I attended Allen White’s (Blog | Twitter) “Automate Policy-Based Management Using PowerShell” session. This turned out to be a great session that gave me some insights into Policy-Based Management. This is definitely I need to delve into more.
SQL Saturday 67 – Chicago, IL
One week after being in Columbia I was in Chicago for another SQL Saturday. Again, I was honored to be chosen among a fantastic group of speakers and looking forward to presenting my Service Broker session that included some changes suggested by Chris S. the prior week. Since I wasn’t scheduled to present until 2:30, I headed over to Ted Krueger’s (Blog | Twitter) session “SSIS: The DBA Multiplier” to start out the day. This was a great session and one I would recommend to any DBA looking to start automating their processes. I then headed over to learn about new features and changes in SQL Server Denali from Aaron Bertrand (Blog | Twitter).
After Aaron’s session I grabbed some lunch and headed to the speaker room to prepare for my session. I was pretty happy with the way my session went. I had about 20 people in it and they participated, both in discussions and asking questions. After reviewing the evals I was pretty pleased. For the most part I met or exceeded expectations and an average of 3.92 out of 5 for quality. The following eval comments stood out:
“Very informative. A feature I had never heard of and makes you think in a completely different way.”
“Explained from an easy level for beginners and built to a higher level of detail. Good speaker.”
To me, it’s comments like these that let me know I’m accomplishing what I set out to do and that’s a good thing. At the same time, I also received a comment that one of the graphics and/or my explaination of it were misleading. I’ll work on this and try to improve it.
For the final session of the day I caught Jason Strate’s (Blog | Twitter) session on Extended Events. Again, another subject that I’ve played with but really want to learn more about. Jason did a great job explaining extended events and had a ton of samples for us to try out.
After the closing remarks and the raffles a large group of us went out to dinner and then headed back to the hotel for the after party which included karaoke and more. If you weren’t there you missed a great time and I’ll leave it at that. Sunday morning I was up early and headed out for a run with Allen White, Jes Borland, and Mike Reigler. We headed out and I ran about 2 miles with them before heading back to the hotel while they continued on to do just over 9 miles. After the run we joined up with Wendy Pastrick and headed out for breakfast before heading back home to Cleveland.
All in all, these two weekends were amazing. I got to learn from some great people, gain speaking experience and meet a lot of people, in person, that I met through Twitter. SQL Saturday’s are a lot more than a low cost day of learning. They are a also a great place to meet, interact and share stories with other database profesionals from all over. If you’ve never been to a SQL Saturday before I challenge you to find one near by and go. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget. If you’ve gone before, have you made the most of it? If not, I challenge you to make the most of it next time.