I’ve grown up reading Tom Clancy and probably most of you have at least seen Red October, so this book caught my eye when browsing used books for a recent trip. It’s a fairly human look at what’s involved in sailing on a Trident missile submarine…
As I was
exploring the twitter verse, I came across a post with the invitation to this
Tuesday #41, and immediately thought what a great topic, which is “Presenting
and Loving it!” I totally thought
about some of my first presentations and how I’ve come a long way since the
early days, which honestly, was only a few years ago. So, I’ll troll down memory lane a bit and
blogger, presenter, and all-around data geek. – Our kind of SQL guy!
in the spirit of this on-going thing of ours, otherwise known as the monthly
blog party called TSQL Tuesday, started way back when, by SQL MVP Adam Machanic,
let’s get to it. Hey, I probably never even thought that I
would be presenting at regular user groups, SQLSaturdays and other events then.
Now of course,
I’ve given PowerPoint presentations in front of corporate colleagues, CTO’s,
VPs, project managers, and DBA
dudes. And of course I did some
end-client training and demos of various proposals, processes and POCs.
I’d say my presentation skills is a work in progress, and I’m consistently
trying ways to improve them. Far from a
perfect presenter, I humbly accept feedback from my audience and friends as
constructive criticism. It’s part of
what makes you a better presenter.
I’m being humble, but I am happy to report my last presentation that I did at
SQLSaturday #184, I received a majority of 4’s and 5’s on a scale of 1-5. Of
course there’s always one or two curmudgeons in the bunch – to be
expected. I would say, if you can, find
out exactly what they were not happy about.
It could just be they are just miserable folks, they thought they were
going to learn about something else, there was just no room in the session next door, or maybe they were just killing time until the raffle. Or, maybe, legitimately, they liked the topic
title, and expected a more advanced deep-dive than they thought they would get.
addition, you always must keep in mind, just because you’re the presenter,
doesn’t mean you’re the smartest guy in the room. In some case, there always be that techno
geek that knows something you don’t (even about your own topic) and he wants to
show everybody this. Don’t get rattled. Feel free to invite that smarty-pants right
up to center stage and have him demo or explain what he’s talking about. Otherwise,
just thank him for setting you straight, make a note, and move on.
Let me go
back in time a bit to one of my early presentations that I did for the NJ SQL User Group. During that time, I was fascinated with
reading the transaction log, and to interpret the actual Inserted, Updated and Deleted
records, as well as recover the data. I did quite a heavy deep-dive
presentation on database forensics called “Who
Did It and Ran”
days of Big and Little Endian, which led me to post a DB
Audit challenge on translating the Hexadecimal output. As noted by the winner, “This was a deeper dive
into the transaction log than I’ve ever done before; the hexadecimal
conversions threw me for a little bit until I found the endian references.“
One of the
things I learned the hard way was to have all your scripts and demos all
pre-planned and ready to go. I practiced
this a dozen times before, so why would I have a problem doing it in front of
an audience. I did have the script
prepared, but I should have had the dummy input ready as well. Since, I didn’t, there I was standing in
front of about 80-100 folks in a big room with me the center of attention
behind a podium. Boy, those lights sure
are shiny, and well, can someone please open the window, it was getting warmer
in there! So, quiet, only the frantic
tapping of the keyboard could be heard. But hey, give me a break; I was
manually converting hexadecimal data that even would have made Rain Man’s head spin!
out of a scene reminiscent from an episode of SpongeBob – anyone remember when
Spongebob thought he got the promoted to manager, and he didn’t, but there he
was standing on stage thanking his boss for the promo? Mr. Krabs comes to the podium and whispers in
his ear, as Spongebob is repeating it on the open mike, “Boy you didn’t make
manager; you’re embarrassing and making a fool out of yourself, you’re
repeating everything I say into the microphone”
I, oh! So, one of the user group peeps
come up and starts whispering, “you gotta wrap it up, you’re going over time….” Not a classic moment, but at least there were
no trap doors on stage to open up and swallow me whole. But now that I think about it that would have
been a memorable exit!
The main goal of my presentations,
as I have one of my first slides in all my presentations is that my #1 goal
is to share my knowledge and experience with you, the audience.
goal, even if not stated, is as I do in many of my blogs, is making SQL entertaining. And I often do this with visual and musical enhancements. No, I don’t make a Broadway production out of
it, but I do try to make it fun. For
example, you want to get your audience to interact with you as much as
possible. Through one of my presentations,
I do this with my end of session wrap Jeopardy Quiz! Yes, I have the musical intro “THIS IS
JEOPARDY”, and increasingly more difficult questions as the amount we’re
playing for gets larger. And do not
forget to put the answer in the form of a question! Don’t want to give too much away, because,
well now, it’s not much of a surprise anymore.
say, I’ve increasingly been enjoying presenting more and more. With each presentation topic, I learn more
and more myself about SQL Server. In
fact, I often submit an abstract with a topic I’m very interested in, but NOT
an expert on. This challenges me to
learn all I can on the subject, because, I will be turning it around and
teaching all of you about it.
presentation that I did back in New York, during the Microsoft
aka the Belgian, (Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft) a consummate, confident
and excellent speaker was getting us prepped and made us rehearse our
presentations beforehand. This was a
great exercise in organizing the event better – but I have to say, when it was
really show time, I, as well as my co-presenters, were a whole lot more natural,
relaxed and even better than at rehearsal.
everyone can say this, but for some reason, when you know you’re in front of a
real audience, and all eyes are focused on you, I do a lot better. Many people are the opposite, and freeze
up. In that case, just image the
audience in their underwear. LOL.
tip that Dandy gave us, was, if you get nervous, use the podium as your comfort
zone. Just hold on to the sides and you’ll
be in control. And, as I found out, this
is the case.
when I am comfortable with the topic, I do like to walk around to either side
of the audience. I figure, if I stand
around in one place, folks may fall asleep, but if you’re watching the
presenter trek back and forth, you’re more engaged. It’s a win-win for everyone.
before, I print out my slide notes, and take them with me just in case. But most of the time, when the session is on,
I rarely even bother looking at them.
And really, if you need to, it’s not a big deal to look at a
reference. Just say “And there was one
more important thing I wanted to talk about….”
there’s one more important thing I wanted to talk about. :-P.
Even when you’re all prepped, timed out and ready to rock and roll, you
can’t avoid the uncontrollable unforeseen events that can sometimes occur. These gremlins and snafus (Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) can occur without
warning (like the infamous Blue
Screen with Bill Gates rolling out its new fault tolerant version of
Windows 98 🙂
things occur, it’s all about how you handle them. I just try to take it in stride. Roll with the punches – it can happen to
anyone! I often just make fun of it myself. For example, when I did SQL Inspire NYC back
in 2011, you’d never know from the final cut (my live presentation is online),
that I had to fight the gremlins and keep moving forward. This included, but not limited to, power
failure/reboot, magical moving screens up and down, and building test of
alarms. I’m sure those of you who were
psychic that he is, told me after, he purposely scheduled me in the first slot
to weed out all the technical unknowns for the rest of the speakers. Gee, thanks Andy! But I did honorably take one for the team.
conclusion, seems I wrote a whole bunch here, I really do enjoy
presenting. Which is why when I saw the
topic, I was really elated. Don’t get me
wrong, it’s still stressful in anticipation of getting up in front of a live audience. And I still get nervous. But, it’s all par for the course! Let’s just say don’t let that evolutionary
instinctual fear DNA, get in the way of a good presentation. Just because our ancestors were running for
their lives away from the dinosaurs, doesn’t mean we have to.
sir! That is all! Thank you brother, for hosting this month’s
T-SQL Tuesday. I am glad to be able to
If any of
you are still interested in joining this blog party, make note of the rules of
must be published between 00:00 GMT Tuesday April 9, 2013 and 00:00 GMT
Wednesday April 10, 2013.
– Your post must contain the T-SQL Tuesday logo at the top (see above) and
the image must link back to the original blog post invitation.
– Trackbacks should work, but if not please put a link to your post in the
comments section so everyone can see your contribution!
“T-SQL Tuesday #41? in your blog post’s title.
– Tweet about your post using the #tsql2sday
to seeing you all at my next presentation!
Stay bookmarked at the PearlKnows blog for my scheduled
appearances! You can follow me on