Bob Pusateri (B|T) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. (Thank you Bob!) The party was originally started by Adam Machanic (B|T) just over three years ago. The topic this month is “Presenting and Loving It”. This is an interesting question for me, because it touches most of my life.
For those that know me, I’m very artistic, in fact I have an art minor and even tried to be a full time artist for a couple of years. The first time I remember teaching others about a topic, was in 6th grade. I taught my class how to make paper flowers by cutting out individual petals. Answering the class’ questions was my favorite part of the presentation.
Jump to 1994, which is when I graduated from college. Jobs were not the easiest to find. Probably because Dice.com hadn’t been written yet. So my first job out of college was teaching Microsoft Office to professionals, and within six months I became an MCT. I taught Visual Basic for two years before the travel got to me. I had some great classes and some boring classes, but I don’t think it was as exciting as presenting at SQL Saturdays.
At the beginning I found that most of the students in the classes were not very engaging. It was like pulling teeth to get them to ask questions or even to voluntarily answer the review questions. So I devised a plan. I brought a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures and I tossed them to the students who asked questions. Let me tell you, by Friday they were all asking questions. As time went on, I tried other things. I brought in monopoly money and handed out a pink $5 for leading questions. They loved that too, but the best idea was my version of Jeopardy. I divided the class into two teams and they had to name each other. Then they answered the review questions and any questions I made up as a team. Now I had team spirit, cooperation, and fun in my class. The best was the class that named each other “The Banana Slugs” and “The Sage Hens”. (Why sage hens? Because if you scare them, they can die. True story.) That one week class had so much fun that one of them wrote me a letter thanking me. But speaking at SQL Saturday is still better.
In 2002 I was so fed up with the way I was treated as a programmer that I tried to leave the field. I had always wanted to teach math, so I went back to college that spring and taught high school algebra that summer. (What was I thinking?) Presenting at SQL Saturdays is WAY better than that.
Which brings me to 2013 and SQL Saturdays. At SQL Saturday I get to present on whatever I want, providing they pick my abstract of course. At SQL Saturday the only people in my class are people who want to hear what I have to say. When I was an MCT, some of my students were there because their boss made them. Nobody is forced to attend a SQL Saturday. At SQL Saturday’s I can be me because I’m representing myself, not the company I work for. This also means I can give my friends hugs, eat lunch with my friends, and not talk for five days straight.
When it comes right down to it…
The number one reason why I like presenting is the same reason as 30 years ago, I like to answer questions and teach people. (And I still like to bring chocolate to my sessions too…all though I might try bacon.)