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Presenting Remotely

Yesterday I presented to the Charlotte SQL Server User's Group. Since I live in Denver, it didn't make a lot of sense to travel to Charlotte, as much as I would have liked to see Peter Shire of SQL Sentry and a few other friends in the area. I'd watched Joe Webb do a remote presentation a few months ago, so I had an idea of how it would go, but this was the first time I'd tried it.

I realized that I had a few things in my slides that were looking for audience input, like some survey questions, so I ended up changing the slides Mon night, and then Tues night not wanting to use my other email accounts, so getting in a rush to set up a web page and email for my site at The Modern Resume. BTW, I have a blog for The Modern Resume that should get the redirect. If it doesn't, use this link.

So I made a couple mistakes in making last minute changes, and afterwards my web redirect was broken.

It was a hard presentation. I like interacting with people and this was the first time I'd done a remote talk. The talk was through GoToMeeting, set up by SQL Sentry (Thanks for that), and they showed a few slides from their side before making me the presenter.

I'd never used GoToMeeting, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I had closed all my software on the desktop and started the Powerpoint deck. I had a phone I was using (landline) for the audio, I was in the basement, dogs locked away, my wife quiet upstairs, it went well.

However I felt like I was speaking in a black hole.

It's really like giving a lecture, and for the most part, I could have just been recording things and not really live. There was only one question during the presentation and none afterwards. Not sure if that means I was good or bad. I'm hoping for some feedback from someone that attended.

I only had an hour, lost a little time at the beginning, and with the changes I'd made, I had to speed things up a little at the end. I hate doing that, but I wanted to leave time for questions, expecting a few. Every time I've done this (4 so far), I've had questions.

My wife later gave me a few things I should have done. She's done quite a few webinars with GoToMeeting and she suggested:

  • Configure my desktop to show questions during the presentation.
  • Upload my slides and have them delivered from GoToMeeting so I can keep my desktop running.

I also had a few other things I did.

  • Cleared the desk so I wouldn't fidget with pens, etc.
  • Set my watch on the desk so I could see it and monitor time (Powerpoint does a bad job here)
  • I had water and coffee handy
  • My cell phone was next to me with the conference number entered in case things went bad. I also had the PIN code on a sticky.

Things I wished I'd done:

  • Uploaded Powerpoint deck.
  • Monitored Twitter during the talk (not sure I could have typed, but I wish I'd see things go by)
  • Fixed the web site up front (worked on my machine, sigh)

Presenting remotely was definitely different than live and I'm glad I made a few changes. I'm not really sure how it sounded and flowed, so I'd love feedback if anyone has it.

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by dave the Desk Jockey on 19 March 2009

Steve, I was on the call and was certain you had done this before.  You sounded confident in a laid back way.  It was the first time I heard you speak so I didn't know what to expect.  I thought you were going to be more type-A than B.

The head-of-the-tail slide was good but the sea of umbrellas was GREAT.  I described it to my wife and she GOT IT right away.  I think everyone should have a red umbrella :)

I've given a couple of webinars myself and found myself getting caught up in all the presenter controls.  I honestly thought I was going to be able to keep an eye on the audience and give the presentation at the same time.  After a while I just forgot about the controls and did my thing.

We are truely our own toughest critics... you did a good job.  Webinars is the most economical way to do it.  It's a great way for all us blue umbrellas to hear straight from the red umbrellas.

Where else could you present in your pajamas, coffee, water cheat notes posted anywhere you want, and your watch in out of sight?

Oh yeah, you were particularly professional the way you didn't let the noisey callers break your rhythm.  It's been a while but I'm sure there's a way to mute everyone and only open the phone lines up for questions.  It's an issue if you really want to make it interactive.

Thanks for sharing.


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