This idea basically started from Andy Bek’s TSQL Tuesday last year #84 growing new speakers (https://sqlbek.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/t-sql-tuesday-84-growing-new-speakers/ – thanks Andy) and I have decided to share my experiences about what was going on in my head for when I was prepping for my first presentation for my local user group.
I jotted some things down which delayed my objective of presenting, I then just threw caution to the wind and went for it. I want to share this because it might just encourage you to talk too!
My initial concerns
- I am not an expert This was a major reason to why I never bothered before. Who on earth would want to listen to me ramble on about a certain topic? I have no weight or merit, I am not a MCM (hahaha – 100 miles away from that standard) or an expert in my field .
- I am not well known. Quite similar to the above, if you see my name on a piece of paper at a presentation would you be tempted to listen to me? I wouldn’t want to listen to me..
- What happens if I get a question I know nothing about? This will reinforce point 1 and make me look terrible.
- What happens if someone tries to show me up? I have heard some stories about this happening, quite frankly I wouldn’t know how I would respond until I actually experience it.
- What happens if people find me boring? If this is the case I am not cut out for presenting!
My post presentation thoughts
Fast track a couple of days after the talk this is how I felt:
- Well I will never be an “expert” but I made sure that I pitched at a level I was comfortable with and made sure that the material was 100% correct. From that and the abstract where I told people it was an entry level session they shouldn’t expect anything advanced, so I thought that I do not have to be a true expert to do the beginner level work, however I was ready for advanced questions where I had my SQLskills notes in my bag with me!
- Post thoughts – This should not stop you, even the best on this planet were once not well known (I think)…
- I read my presentation and tried to find holes as to where potential questions would crop up and I scribbled them down. Honestly is key here. When I didn’t know the answer I just said I don’t know but will find out.
- Never happened and I hope it never happens.
- I am a boring person so I tried to make it interactive, I asked the audience questions during my presentation and even gave a “quick test” at the end with a prize. (16GB USB which nobody got!)…people did walk off which threw me off for 2-3 seconds but I just carried on and ignored it.
Basically what I am saying here is: if you have the same concerns as I did then all I can say that it is natural but you should have zero regrets and just dive right in… after the presentation I received a couple of handshakes and some of the DBAs were really into my content and I was encouraged to do more!
Thanks to Paul Andrews and Alex Yates for the positive feedback and a big thanks to Erin Stellato for helping me getting started from abstracts to general advice.
Thanks for reading and keep talking!