I love the SQL Community because it usually is a great environment to connect, share and learn. With that said, I am noticing that we can do a much better job with helping the people who share, learn how to share better. For every single, Grant Fritchey, Thomas LaRock, Andy Leonard, Brent Ozar, Mike Walsh, Allen White (I could keep going..) there are several DBA’s who speak in the community who don’t get the feedback they need to get to the next level. The SQL PASS community does a great job of providing opportunities for people to speak but we fail as a group at giving speakers the proper feedback that is needed to help them succeed.
Being a speaker and regional mentor I have attended many user group meetings and SQL Saturday’s in the past few years. I have seen a lot of great changes in the community. Recently, I motivated some friends into giving their first presentation at the local SQL Saturday. I was able to attend their sessions so I could directly give feedback. It makes me wonder how many speakers only get the feedback provided on the evaluation forms? How is it possible to use the limited information on these forms to make a presentation better? That is if you’re lucky enough to be presenting at an user group who uses speaker evaluation forms. I admit I was guilty of this while running the WVPASS User Group. From firsthand knowledge I know running a user group can require a lot of time and dedication so I completely see how this important feedback is missed when there are several other important pieces to the user group leader puzzle.
My call to action (this is where the rant ends). What is the answer? I wish I knew, but I defiantly can provide some suggestions. It would be nice to have a consistent evaluation process during a SQL Saturday and other PASS events including virtual chapters and user group meetings. I would like to see questions that are open ended that provide constructive feedback to help speakers improve as they grow instead of hoping attendees provide feedback on the back of a form. I think it would be nice to give attendees an simple online tool that allows them to provide feedback during the session. Once again, these are just suggestions. Maybe there all wrong as they are just ideas on how the process can be improved through my experience as a chapter leader, speaker, SQL Saturday organizer and regional mentor.
In closing, I look forward to hopefully finding the answer with some friends in my #sqlfamily. Every year at the PASS Member Summit there is a meeting where the community can meet and ask questions to the Board of Directors. This year, I plan to attend and ask, “As a volunteer, how can I be involved in improving our current system in place to provide speakers with better feedback to help them improve their public speaking skills and get them to the next level?”