Helping First Time Presenters

Nic Cain (@SirSQL) has a blog post that I highly recommend reading if you attend User Group meetings or SQLSaturdays: An Open Letter To SQLSaturday & User Group Organizers.  I think Nic tells a good story with a very relevant example of how a new speaker could have a negative first speaking experience.  And he has a great call to action for organizers and presenters.

I suggest that we raise that call to action to include veteran speakers.  For example…my local user group is the Ohio North SQL Server User Group.  To anyone who is also a member of this group and wants present at a local meeting: let me know.  I am more than happy to help you get started, provide feedback, and be there for your first session.  Further, I’m attending SQLSaturday #304 in Indianapolis next month.  If you’re presenting there for the first time and want me to be there for your session, let me know!

This is an open offer, with no expiration, and I do hope that someone takes me up on my offer.  And I would be remiss if I did not mention the following individuals who were there for my some of my first sessions and supported me:

  • Allen White (@SQLRunr) – my first session was at our user group in December 2010, and Allen stood in the back the entire time, in my line of sight in case I needed him
  • Mike Walsh (@mike_walsh) – with whom I co-presented at my first SQLSaturday in Feburary 2011, something I would recommend new speakers consider (it’s not a great fit for everyone, but I enjoyed presenting with Mike)
  • Kendra Little (@kendra_little) – who sat in on my first solo session at that SQLSaturday in 2011, and laughed at my jokes 🙂
  • Rob Farley (@rob_farley) – even though Rob fell asleep during my first solo Summit session (Friday afternoon, end of the week, jet lag, and too many late nights, etc. :), he provided feedback I still remember to this day
  • Ted Krueger (@onpnt) – he helped me fine tune one of my favorite sessions (during a speaker dinner no less…I still owe Jes for that) and then sat through it and helped fill in some gaps when I needed help

To those of you that have been speaking for a while, I encourage you to seek out potential speakers – whether it’s in the community or at your office – and offer your help.  And for new speakers, please do not be afraid to ask for guidance.  Everyone starts at the beginning, with the same pile of nerves and fears about what could happen.  There are so many people who are willing to help make the process easier – seek them out, and have fun!


4 thoughts on “Helping First Time Presenters

  1. Ha! Your jokes were genuinely funny. Nobody would have ever thought that was your first solo session, you were so smooth and effective.

    I try really hard to remember to smile when I’m in someone’s session, even an experienced presenter. Sometimes I forget and I’m sure I look bored when I’m really not. But I’ve noticed when I’m teaching that it just automatically picks me up if I see a smiling face in the audience, so I try to remember to pass that on.

    1. The one that sticks with me is I said something about PerfMon, and you laughed and it was a moment where I realized that some people will “get” my weird sense of humor.

      Remembering to smile, as an audience member, is a good one. So is nodding your head – I try to do that because when I see that, as a presenter, I know that person is right with me. Thanks again Kendra!

  2. Thanks for the great blog, Erin! We are planning to have a First Timers: Summit Speakers webinar coming up before Summit and plan to have a Speakers “Buddy” type program this year, pairing up new Summit Speakers with a veteran speaker for encouragement and feedback. (Details still in the works). If any veteran speakers would like to participate in the Speaker’s Buddy Program, please email 🙂

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