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!