This month, Bob Pusateri (Blog | @SQLBob) is running T-SQL Tuesday on presenting. T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blogging event where a number of us in the SQL Server community gets together to blog on a central topic. The topic that was chosen for this month is presenting, or more specifically:
“How did you come to love presenting? What was the first time you gave a presentation in front of a group and really enjoyed it? Was it something that was required of you in school? Something you did in the workplace? Were you inspired by other SQL community members and thought “I think I can do that too”? Whatever your story is, I’d love to hear it.”
Back in the day
To start my road to presenting, we’ll should start in high school. Because back then, the very last thing I ever wanted to do was be caught up in a situation where I had to present anything to a group. In fact, in my entire high school career, I had only one class that required any sort of speech; which was a required 11th grade communications course. Needless to say, I got a grade that matched my interest and desire to perform presentation… it was an F. At the time, I was convinced that there was no value, no reason, and no way that I would push myself in a direction that hinged in the slightest on getting up in front of a group of people and presenting my ideas. I was a worker bee and planned to stay that way.
Not So Back In The Day
Fast forward to about 10 years ago and I came across something that blew me away. I’d heard about the PASS Summit and people giving presentations at the conference, of course, I figured it was all sales related so had no intention on attending or learning more about it. But somewhere in there, a friend passed along a link to a presentation featuring Kimberly Tripp (Blog | @KimberlyLTripp) talking about fragmentation. Two things crossed my mind when I watched the video. First, I had found a new way to learn from others that I hadn’t considered before. And second, here was someone where part of the way they made their living included traveling places and talking about technology.
The idea of traveling for work had been completely foreign to me. Yes, there were people that had done this for ages, but I thought they were only sales people. I wasn’t then or planning ever to be someone that tried to make a sale. But it all got me to thinking and I started looking around at what other people in technology did for their careers and how influential speaking from time to time could be. The idea of traveling to places because of a presentation and staying a few days to experience something new was enticing. It may seem odd to have come across all of these ideas so late, but I’m from Minnesota… we don’t get out much. And, of course, true to my conservative mid-western ways I didn’t do anything about these new desires.
Just the other Days
Things changed though when I went to work for my first consulting company, Digineer. One of my co-workers was Lara Rubbelke (Blog | @SQLGal), who served as both my boss and mentor at different times. Lara was a proponent to speaking and presenting and provided that last bit of motivation that I needed to present for the first time to the Minnesota SQL Server User Group (PASSMN).
The first presentation that I did was on SQL Server’s OUTPUT clause. To say that I was nervous, is putting it lightly. My flight or fight response was in high gear and I was considering just running off. If I did… no harm, right? But I didn’t and I stuck it through with the presentation. As a result, I have officially delivered what is widely regarded to have been the worst presentation for that user group. The thing of it is, that was the worst thing that could happen. It was bad. But it didn’t hurt, I felt relieved, and I knew… I could do better than that.
As a result of that first presentation, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve presented at the PASS Summit three times, SQL Saturday’s across the country, and numerous other user group. I’ve had reasons to visit Tampa, San Diego, and Iowa (where I visited Kirk’s “birthplace”). While there are other reasons to visit those areas, for a workaholic like me – this gives me that push to get out there. It’s lead to a new job at Pragmatic Works which gives me new opportunities to work with SQL Server even more and develop new presentation topics to share.
So, that’s my tale on how I got to presenting and why I continue to love it.