SQL Saturday 206 Recap

April 7th 2013

SQL Saturday Madison 2013 was a roaring success. I'm not quite sure what we did right, but we did it!

A key moment for me was right around 8.35am. I was talking to Tony at the registration desk when suddenly a huge number of people all walked in the door at the same time (at least 20-30). Both Tony & I were like "Uh oh, we'd better stop talking and help out because this could get ugly". 2 minutes later, the entire crowd had been sent on their way to breakfast, goody bags in hand. I was stunned. It was a level of efficiency even I wasn't expecting and I had barely done anything.

Of course, that level of awesomeness doesn't just happen. It was the combination of the efforts of a large number of people: especially Gina who organized the putting together of the goody bags the previous night, helped set up the registration table in the morning, printed instructions for everyone to follow and made sure the volunteers knew what to do. Tony helped massively, supplying laptops and printers and working tirelessly to make sure they all talked to each other. The registration desk volunteers (Katie, Matt, Jackie and Jim) were all fantastic.

And overall the event just went so well. I can't begin to list everything Jes did to make it such a success. Before the event Jes recruited sponsors, organized the catering, found speakers plus managed the budget and led our weekly planning meetings. During the event, Jes, more than anyone, has this amazing ability to make everyone feel welcome and important. She did both the opening and closing addresses, stopped by every session and was continuously making sure everyone had what they needed.

My thanks to every single speaker, volunteer and sponsor for making the entire event so successful.

My Own Experience

Not only was I on the organizing team, but this year I decided to speak. This was my first SQL Saturday as a speaker, and my first presentation longer than 30 minutes. I was under-prepared, and I spent much of the day in last minute preparations.

The presentation itself went ok. I would rate myself as a 3 out of 5. On the positive side, I never went blank. I had content to show and I showed it. The audience were laughing. Only one person fell asleep. I got primarily 4s and 5s on my evaluations (one 3) and the comments were all positive. By all external accounts, it was a roaring success and I should be very proud of myself.

However, I know I can do better. I did a number of things wrong. Primarily, I didn't do a full dress rehearsal. I rehearsed in that I knew what I wanted to say, but I never ran through it all to feel it out. As a result, my presentation was not tightly packaged. It was a first draft. I had too much content and it was more a stream of thoughts than a coherent message. About 15 minutes into my presentation, I realized I had spent a ton of time pointing out every little flaw in the product and not spent much time focusing on the value it brings (especially to businesses without any BI at all). If I had rehearsed, I would have known that and I would have tweaked it. I also ran out of time at the end, and blurted out key points without clearly explaining them.

Essentially, there's two parts to a presentation. First, there's the work. You have to have stuff to say, you have to have demos and examples and points on slides. Then, there's the presentation itself. You have to present it well. I did #1. I failed to do #2.

If this was the entirety of my first SQL Saturday speaking experience, I might be tempted to give up on public speaking. It's a lot of work to pull off an hour long technical presentation (and I have a TON of respect for those speakers who do it well). I'm a little disillusioned, and the thought of doing it all again doesn't excite me right now. However, for better or for worse, I'm committed to do the same presentation again next week at SQL Saturday Chicago.

Of course, it won't be the same presentation. Next week, it will be well rehearsed. It will be tightly packaged. I've already taken out ⅓ of my slides and 2 of my demos, so I get right to the heart of my message. I want to pull off a presentation that I could honestly rate 5 out of 5 stars. I'm getting back on the horse and, with a bit of luck, I hope to walk out of SQL Saturday Chicago feeling alive, like I've just accomplished something truly awesome, that I did the best job I could and that, just maybe, public speaking is something I want to do again.

Not a do-over. But a 2nd chance.

Go back...

Visitor Comments

Calm down, it was a great presentation and the time flew by. You were imformative and where you seem to be upset, kept my focus by trying to figure out where the wrong turn had been.  Hopefully, you will feel more comfortable next time, but I would guess first time jitters helped with the pace.
Sense of humor helped as well.  Don’t quit.

Posted by Kirk on 8th Apr 2013

Thanks for the comment.

The time did fly by! When I saw I had 7 minutes left, I was a bit surprised to say the least.

I don’t mean to sound quite so dramatic. I didn’t do as good as I know I can do, I want to do better next time, and I’m glad I have an opportunity to do so so soon.

Posted by Leonard on 8th Apr 2013

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