Tag Archive for Speaking

Dev Connections – Demos and Slides Are Available

Thanks to all the Dev Connection attendees who came to my class. I have posted the slides, demos, and demo database on my Resources page.

Fall Speaking Engagements

A year ago I had no intentions of speaking this year. I didn’t think I was mentally ready for public speaking once again. Boy was I wrong. Not only was I ready, but I’ve become addicted to speaking at various SQL Events. I even found a SQL Saturday to speak at on my family vacation in Louisville, Kentucky. Between September and October I will be speaking at 5 venues and moderating two Women in Technology (WIT) panels. That will be a total of 8 sessions. Here is a bit about each of them.

SQL Saturday #249 takes place in San Diego, CA on Saturday, September 20th. This year, instead of a pre-con the day before , Red Gate will be hosting a half day called SQL in the City Seminar.

Dev Connections takes place in Las Vegas, NV between September 30th and October 4th at Mandalay Bay. I’m very excited about my two brand new presentations.

SQL in the City takes place in three different cities in October. I will be speaking at two of them. I’ll be in Pasadena, CA on October 9th and I’ll be in Charlotte, NC on October 14th the week of the PASS Summit.

PASS Summit takes place in Charlotte, NC between October 15th and 18th. This is the most amazing conference for the SQL community. While I’m not speaking at it this year, I am participating in other ways including being a buddy to a new attendee or two.

SQL Saturday #237 also takes place in Charlotte, NC on Saturday October 19th.

  • This is my last SQL Saturday of the year and it is the “BI Edition”, so I had to do my session, Scalable SSRS Reports Achieved Through the Powerful Tablix.

I’m looking forward to these sessions and to meeting new people as well as reconnecting with my old friends. I hope to find you in my sessions and that you have the time to introduce yourself. I really enjoy meeting new people and sharing the knowledge that I have.

SQL on my friends.

T-SQL Tuesday #41–It All Started with A Flower

T-sql Tuesday
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.)

Speaking Engagements–Engaging Speaking

71 VetteThis past September (2012) I attended my first SQL Saturday in San Diego. After the SQL Saturday event I went to the after party where I had the opportunity to network with some wonderful people. One of them being Benjamin Nevarez (b|t). He asked me if I had thought about speaking at a SQL Saturday. I told him that I wasn’t considering it for another year. He told me, “Why wait? Speak at the next SQL Saturday. There will be one in Orange County in the spring.”

I thought the idea was insane. I hadn’t done any technical speaking in years, like over 15 years….and I’ve never written my own content.  OK, once I wrote my own content, but that was also over 15 years ago.

But he got me thinking…

By November I had decided I would submit an abstract to TWO SQL Saturdays one in Orange County, and the other in San Diego in the fall. By December I had bought myself a laptop and had decided to speak at FIVE events in 2013. It’s the end of March, and guess what? I’ve already spoken twice, I will be speaking again on Thursday, and then I finally get to speak at the Orange County SQL Saturday. I added up all the possible engagements and I have a possible NINE events for the year (4 User Group Meetings, 4 SQL Saturday Events, and if I’m a lucky ducky the coup de grace… PASS Summit). I’ve also just agreed to organize and moderate a Women’s In Technology (WIT) panel for the Orange County SQL Saturday. I’ve very excited to have a panel of women talk about how to get our youth involved in STEM programs (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

I’m addicted

I’ve enjoyed myself so much speaking at the events. Yes, I was nervous, but it is so gratifying to share knowledge, to help solve problems, and to watch the light bulb go on when they see how they can leverage their new found knowledge.

Where to find me this year

If you would like to hear me speak about SQL Server Reporting Services, you can find me at these events.

My Come Back From The Speaking Grave

I started my career in 1994 at a training company, QuickStart Technologies (now QuickStart Intelligence). I spent my first 2.5 years there as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) teaching Visual Basic 3.0 and 4.0 amongst other classes. I was one of their best trainers and I can thank them for that. They didn’t just hand us our Microsoft curriculum and told us to “Make it so”. They invested time and money into us. We took classes each year from outside trainers on how to give presentations. They were some of the most helpful training I’ve ever had, boring as hell, but incredibly helpful.

In 2006 I helped start and become the president of The Southern California Glass Guild for LA and Orange Counties. The training I received at QuickStart paid off. I was able to lead the monthly meetings and occasionally present on a topic.

This last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting my first SQL Saturday Session (#177) up in Silicon Valley. My presentation was on the tablix controls (Table, Matrix, List) in Reporting Services and was entitled Tablix – The Rubik Cube of Reporting Services.

When I first finished the session, I thought I had done so poorly. I had technical difficulties with my monitor which meant I had to present with my back to my audience, which I hated. …. But then something happened. My students smiled at me. They thanked me. They asked questions. They didn’t leave in the middle of my presentation.  And my friends who attend my class told me I did well. So now when I’m asked how it went, my answer is it went great.

The biggest difference between being an MCT and a SQL Saturday trainer, is the materials that you teach from. As an MCT, my materials were created for me, even my demos.  As a SQL Saturday trainer, my materials were typed by my own fingers and my demos came from my own imagination. Which meant, I had to buy a laptop because I didn’t own one. I had to think up what I wanted to talk about it and how I would get my points across. I spent 2 months on and off preparing for my one hour session, probably about 30 hours of time.

What advice would I give to a new speaker?

I would actually give this advice to anyone who wants to improve their speaking.

  • Invest time into your presentation skills. I was lucky to take classes on speaking, but if cost is an issue, then there are other ways.
    • You can join local Toast Masters group.
    • You could also have an experienced speaker critique you and give you pointers.
  • Go watch other experienced speakers, even if you aren’t interested in their topics. You are there to watch how they present and how they engage their audience. I have three favorites and if you ever get an opportunity to watch them speak, take the time to do so.
    • Grant Fritchey (b|t) – He is lively, he LOVES questions, and he has great demos.
    • Kevin Kline (b|t) – He has the best voice which means he speaks clearly, he looks at home while speaking, and I swear he uses mind control to get the slides to change. You don’t even see his hand move.
    • Jason Strate (b|t) – Jason has the same attributes that Grant and Kevin have. The first time I took a class from him, I was so impressed that I changed my schedule to take the other two classes he was teaching that day. That wouldn’t have happened if he was a bad presenter.
  • Video tape one of your presentations (make sure to get permission first). I will warn you, you won’t like looking at it, but you need to.
    • Look at your posture. Are you standing up straight? Do you look like you want to be there?
    • Look at your clothes. Are they distracting? Are they neat and clean?
    • Listen to your speech. Are you loud and clear? Do you use filler words like “um” or “like”?
    • Look at the use of your mouse and/or pointer? Are you moving it so much that a cat would pounce on it?
  • Make sure you know how long you will be speaking. (For some reason I thought I had 90 min. Nope, I had 60 min.) Bring a clock. The one on your phone is fine. I wrote down the following times on my cheat sheet. That way I didn’t have to do math in my head between remembering the next step in my demo and changing slides.
    • The time the session Started
    • The half point time
    • 10 minutes before the session ended
    • The time the session ended.

More pointers

My mentor gave me some great advice before I gave my first presentation, and on Wednesday when we meet, I know he’ll have some more for me. I’ve also observed from other great instructors some tricks that I used that worked for me.

  • Make 3 backups of your slides and demos, including the databases you need. Store them 3 different places you’ll have access to.
  • Install ZoomIt by Microsoft and practice with it.
  • Be prepared if ZoomIt doesn’t work (that is what happened to me).
  • Practice with your screen resolution at 1024 by 768.
  • Have a cheat sheet with any special code or numbers that you will be typing in your demo. Allen White (b|t) uses notepad in the background so that he can copy and paste. I LOVE this technique. It worked great for me. Nobody wants to watch you type a formula out. They want you to explain the different parts of it.
  • Look and sound confident, even when you’re nervous.


I know there are things I need to work on, but there always are. I enjoyed coming back from the speaking grave and teaching other’s technical content that I use and they might need. I hope that someday you can attend one of my classes.

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