T-SQL Tuesday #41 Recap

A huge thank you to all who took the time to write posts for T-SQL Tuesday #41. I was overwhelmed at the number of replies! I had a ton of them to read, as well as back-to-back SQL Saturdays in Madison and Chicago that have kept me busy the past few weeks, hence the delay in posting this. Without any further ado, here are all the great replies in the order they appeared in the comments section.

Boris Hristov (@BorisHristov) tells the tale of SQL Saturday #152 in Sofia, where he had several obstacles to overcome, including sleeping in, his first attempt at presenting on a MacBook Pro, and having to migrate everything to his manager's PC when he ran into issues. Despite the technical difficulties, Boris still believes this was one of the best presentations he's ever given.

Michael J. Swart (@MJSwart) says that he's "not much of a presenter" and that he's actually giving his third presentation _ever_ the same day that his post went live. (I had no idea!) He also gives us advice in the form of things he's done to prepare for it.

Rob Farley (@Rob_Farley) admits that presenting is his drug and he's addicted to it. Rob loves presenting because "at least one of the people in the audience will benefit from it. And that's addictive." I couldn't agree more, Rob!

Matt Velic (@mvelic) got started presenting by reading at his church, and later through music and debate in high school and college. He credits presenting with helping to boost his self-confidence, and likens it to a tool for helping others.

Richard Douglas (@SQLRich) was also giving a presentation the night his post went live, so Michael J. Swart is in good company! Richard answered all my questions individually; he too says some of his earliest "presentations" came in the form of musical performances. He also says that attending SQLBits was a real game-changer for him.

Jim McLeod (@Jim_McLeod) was not a fan of presenting at first. (I think most of us fall into that bucket.) His opinion changed though when he started working at a laser tag centre, and had to give pre-game briefings to groups of up to 60 people. Technical presentations are of course a bit more involved than laser tag, but he still really enjoys them. Jim's advice is to respect the audience – they are giving you their time so make sure it's worth it.

Frank Gill (@SkreebyDBA) tells us that his volunteering as a tour guide at the Art Institute of Chicago has been a tremendous experience and he's learned something new every time he gives a tour. He says his experiences with SQL Saturdays and user groups have been every bit as enjoyable.

Jes Schultz (@grrl_geek) tells us about the steps she takes to ensure that her presentations are successful. These include writing out detailed goals of the presentation before working on slides or demos, and lots of iterative practicing. As Jes puts it: "Simply, be prepared." If it's good enough for the Boy Scouts and for Jes, it's good enough for me!

Ted Krueger (@onpnt) makes excellent points about choosing topics and practicing. Picking topics that interest us aren't necessarily what will interest an audience – striking a balance is key. Similarly practicing does not ensure an error-free presentation – plenty of things outside of your control can go wrong, or the audience may not respond well. Being quick on your toes and adapting your talk to keep everyone interested can be very beneficial.

Richie Rump (@Jorriss) wrote about how he was inspired to start presenting while at TechEd 2011, where he realized the he really enjoyed the networking opportunities. After receiving more encouragement on twitter, he submitted to speak at the 2011 South Florida IT Camp, was accepted, and had a blast!

Stuart Moore (@napalmgram) felt like his career was stagnating. After discovering the rest of his team had similar feelings, they all decided to start giving presentations at work about the systems they each were responsible for. Stuart says it was awesome, but the thrill disappeared after a while, but then he discovered his local SQL user group, which he really enjoyed presenting at. At this point he has presented at 2 user group meetings and has submitted abstracts for a few SQL Saturdays.

Steven Ormrod (@SQLAvenger) made note of the interesting fact that he hasn't participated in a T-SQL Tuesday since the last time I hosted, nearly two years ago. Glad I can inspire you to take part!! Steven has an impressive list of experiences, including some time as a high school teacher. Back in the IT world, Steven wasn't all that happy with how his career was progressing until he discovered PASS, and got hooked on speaking after presenting at his first user group meeting.

David Gardiner (@DavidRGardiner) thinks his first time in front of a group was probably when he taught Sunday School as a teenager. He makes a great point by saying that presenting can be a two-way street. "Sometimes you end up learning just as much from those you're presenting to as you hope they did from you."

Allen White (@SQLRunr) got his start in public performance in the theatre, and I was surprised to find out he was a theater major in college! He started attending Cleveland SQL Server User Group meetings about 8 years ago, and was presenting soon after that. Allen considers presenting to be "one of those magic activities in which everyone benefits", and I couldn't agree more!

Lance England (@lanceengland) explains how he prepared to give a recent presentation on MDX, and how much he enjoyed learning more about the language and building his confidence in the process. Sometimes getting forced out of one's comfort zone is a great way to really learn a subject, because as Lance mentioned, "if you can't explain it, you don't know it."

Mickey Stuewe (@SQLMickey) tells us how she got her start right out of college teaching Microsoft Office and became an MCT soon after. She also mentions how she wanted to motivate people to ask questions, so she started tossing out candy to those that did. (Great minds think alike, Mickey – I've actually used this method at a few SQL Saturdays!) She says the reason she loves presenting is the same as it's been all along – she loves answering questions and helping people.

Robert Pearl (@PearlKnows) makes some excellent points, like accepting constructive criticism from the audience will make you a better presenter, and that just becuase you're speaking doesn't mean you are the smartest person in the room. Also on the topic of preparedness I've seen a few times now, Robert mentions that "when [unforeseen events] occur, it's all about how you handle them."

Mike Donnelly (@SQLMD) states quite simply that speaking makes him happy. He shares a point from a blog he reads which says "Novelty and challenge bring happiness", and public speaking gives him all those things.

Sean McCown (@MidnightDBA) who always makes me smile, walks us through a presentation from the idea to the abstract, and the big day itself. He also manages to mention Blazing Saddles and The A-Team, both of which I watched at way too young an age. After reading this it's clear that Sean and I both love it when a plan comes together, and it sounds like that's just what happened in this presentation.

Gethyn Ellis (@gethyn_ellis) tells how speaking didn't come easy to him at first, but he now makes a living teaching SQL Server learning courses. He offers the following advice: 1) you will always be nervous. 2) Nerves are a good thing – they make you prepare. 3) Being prepared is important – without it you will fail.

Tim Ford (@SQLAgentMan) recalls the tale of how he was thrust into the spotlight at the 2005 PASS Summit when the host for the Quizbowl suddenly had to cancel. Since then he's presented at many events, both large and small, and even started SQL Cruise! Sounds to me like a great example of the awesome things that can come from bring thrown a curveball. Thanks, Tim!

Bradley Ball (@SQLBalls) got his first taste of the SQL community through 24 hours of PASS, and attended SQL Saturday Orlando shortly thereafter. His first speaking experience was at SQL Saturday in Tampa, and from there he was hooked. He also apparently worked at the White House, which I'll totally have to ask him about sometime.

Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA) didn't think his first presentation about SQL Server XML in 2006 was a very big success, but it ended up earning him the ability to speak at SQL Saturday #1. Now he's on the PASS Board and is Director of the SQL Saturday portfolio! Kendal says his career is very different than it was back in 2006, and that's largely due to presenting. He advises new presenters to "be careful, because you might just walk away wanting to do it again!"

Mark Broadbent (@retracement) gave his first-ever presentation at SQLBits 7, and considers it to be "one of the most frightening, exhilarating, scary and rewarding experiences" he has ever had. Mark also credits the preparation for that event with improving his technical skills exponentially from where they were before. He has presented at every SQLBits since then.

Steve Wake (@stevewake) is contributing to T-SQL Tuesday for the first time! Steve got his start doing technical presenting at the Denver Visual Studio User Group and received lots of positive comments. From there he sought out other user groups and found the Denver SQL Server User Group. Since then he's also started doing the SQL Saturday circuit, and presenting is now an integral part of his career.

Ed Watson (@SQLGator) tells us that he's not in love with presenting – yet – but he's getting there. He used to avoid it like the plague, but the SQL community and the great experiences he's had at SQL Saturdays have really been helping him conquer his aversion. Thanks for sharing, Ed!

Paul Timmerman (@mnDBA) is not only making his first T-SQL Tuesday blog post, but his first blog post in general! Paul says he's never really been afraid of speaking, just often found himself lacking the motivation to get up and do it. The SQL community has changed his mind, though, and he recently presented at both the PASSMN user group and SQL Saturday Madison. He is happy to report having excellent experiences both times, and I'm sure will be presenting more in the future!

Jim Dorame (@DBAJD) is also making his first T-SQL Tuesday contribution. He recently gave his first presentation at SQL Saturday in Madison and was surprised by the positive reaction he got from attendees. He's presenting again at SQL Saturday in Fargo this weekend and really looking forward to giving back to the community that has helped him throughout the years.

Wayne Sheffield (@DBAWayne) cut his teeth presenting when he was in the US Navy and had to conduct training for his entire division. (That sounds it was in front of a lot of people, Wayne!) Later he was writing articles for SQLServerCentral.com and was encouraged to turn an particularly popular one into a presentation. Not only was the presentation a success, but Wayne discovered that he really enjoys watching others learn.

Luke Jian (@sensware) says "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" which is an excellent quote, though I must admit the first time I heard it was when Wilson said it on Home Improvement. In Luke's case this single step was at SQLskills IE1 2011 in Chicago, which I was very fortunate to be attending. I remember Luke getting up there and schooling us all in the ways of SSDs and think it's awesome how many events he's presented at since.

Erin Stellato (@erinstellato) and I have even more in common than I previously thought – it turns out she was a campus tour guide in college just like me! As a graduate student in Kinesiology, Erin had the opportunity to teach an introductory course, which helped her realize that she loved teaching. Watching one student "get it" during her first rotation was particularly gratifying. Erin also makes the comment that the term "teaching" is a lot less scary than "presenting", and I totally agree!

Mike Fal (@Mike_Fal) tells us about the "hook", which for him is more than a catchy Blues Traveler song. After his first ever presentation at the Denver SQL User Group he was told that "I've been a DBA for over twenty years. You taught me something new tonight." Not only is that excellent, but in my opinion that's exactly what the SQL community is all about.

Julie Koesmarno (@MsSQLGirl) started doing one-on-one tutoring for high school students, and later found herself doing the same for college students. After graduating, she started presenting and found she loved the discussion aspect and how we can all learn from each other.

Steve Jones (@way0utwest) was apprehensive about speaking in front of strangers as many of us were, but much of this was overcome by working in the restaurant business and constantly meeting (and talking to) new people. His first technical presentation was at a PASS Summit, and while he didn't jump in right away, a few years later he was presenting regularly. Steve really enjoys the chance to teach people and help them improve their careers.

Doug Lane (@thedouglane) argues that presenting is essentially the same as performing, which he did a lot of when younger, especially through band. He makes the point that presenting is a lot like doing an improv solo – there's a framework (key, tempo, measures) but the rest is filled in on the fly.

Robert L. Davis (@SQLSoldier) says he has never loved presenting more than when someone pinged him for advice. He was able to give guidance on how to submit, and after the person was selected he advised them on giving the actual presentation as well. Robert also was honored to be asked to sit in on the presentation for moral support, which he did. Not only does Robert mention bacon, but he also references Revenge of the Nerds, another movie I watched at way too young an age. (My grandmother let me get away with murder when I would spend Saturdays at her house.)

Jason Strate (@StrateSQL) had no interest in presenting in front of groups for any reason until he went to work for his first consulting company, where one of his co-workers gave him the necessary kick in the rear to try presenting at the Minnesota SQL Server User Group (PASSMN). Jason says this presentation is widely regarded as the worst talk in the history of the group, but he was convinced that he could do better than that, so he kept speaking.

And last but not least, me! Yes, I participated in the T-SQL Tuesday I hosted.

Once again, thank you to everyone who participated! By my count there were 38 posts in all. Of those, 3 were from people participating in T-SQL Tuesday for the first time, 1 was a first blog post ever, and 2 were by people who were giving presentations the same day their post went live. How awesome is that?!?