Thanks to Andy Yun for hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday #84: Growing New Speakers. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I made my first presentation at SQL Saturday 531 in Louisville, KY in August. Since I’m a rookie, I’m not going to pretend that I have any brilliant tips for new speakers beyond the ones that I am sure are being shared throughout the community today. You should definitely practice your demos, you should definitely practice your speaking, and you should definitely go watch other experienced speakers to see how they approach a session, how they handle the room, and how they manage questions. However, none of that matters if you don’t commit to speaking and presenting to the community and that is where I want to focus this post.
Speaking in front of a group of people is not something that comes naturally to me. I am, as some in the community are, a bit of an introvert. I don’t come charging out of bed in the morning fired up to speak to a large room full of people. That said, I am fortunate enough to work at a place where I am encouraged to share my knowledge with the community. While that encouragement is important, my first session taught me two important things.
The first important thing that I learned is that any real world experience you have is useful to the community. While you may think something you are doing is boring or old hat to everybody, it’s not. Everybody is in a different place in their career journey and could be receptive to the information you have to share.
The second important thing I learned is that the community of SQL Server data professionals is full of wonderful, supportive people. Even if it’s not your natural inclination, volunteer to speak. Beyond that, if possible, go to the speaker’s dinner and introduce yourself to people. You may glean some knowledge, you may make some important networking connections, and you may even make some friends.
As I said, some or all of this may not come naturally to every single one of us. In my experience, it’s worth forcing yourself through that wall and out of your comfort zone and presenting to the community. In fact, my experience was so positive I volunteered to do it again and will be presenting two sessions at SQL Saturday 552 in Lincoln, NE on Saturday, November 19. Come see me and introduce yourself!