I am taking a shot at my very first T-SQL Tuesday. This month it all about helping new speakers. This is an interesting topic, as I am a new speaker. Just about a year ago I was voluntold to give a lightening talk at the NESQL User Group. I was sitting in the back of the room, working away on something, while Mike Hillwig was going through the normal announcements at the start of the meeting. I was not paying close attention as I was lost in thought. However, I noticed that the room went silent and I felt eyes on me. I looked up and saw Mike staring right at me with a big grin on his face. Then him just saying “…you’re up next month…”
Now, I have spoken in public in the past. I have given presentations to clients before. It is not something I particularly care to do, as I do not like the spotlight. More importantly, I had the following thoughts rushing through my mind.
- What could I possibly teach this room? Boston has a lot of people who know SQL Server very well.
- I am not an expert on anything, I am here to learn from the experts.
- I do not know a topic that I could present on.
- NESQL has a few members who are MVPs. What can I possibly present on that these people do not know?
I was feeling very intimidated by thought of speaking front of this group.
After the user group session was over, I had a conversation with Mike, Andy, and Robert who are the organizers of NESQL. They gave me this advice.
- Everyone can learn from someone else. Even if two people share the same knowledge, one can learn from the other’s point of view. That difference in point of view, could completely change someone’s thinking. It fosters discussions and expands both people’s knowledge.
- I am not an expert, however, one way to gain knowledge and become an expert is to teach someone else. Teaching someone else something you have learned is a great way to reinforce your own knowledge. It forces you to acquire new information, comprehend that information, and then present it in a way that makes it easy for others to understand.
- Me not having a topic to present on, was based upon my thinking that I brought no value to the user group. This is not true. My experience is my value as it brings a perspective on a problem that someone else could be having, they have not solved yet. I have done projects, fixed problems, been part of outages, learned from others…..I have a story. Tell my story.
- Yes…NESQL has a few members who are MVPs. Also there are people who work for Microsoft too. However, they are a small percentage of the group. The rest of the group are people like me. DBA’s there looking to share knowledge and do their job better. There are people who are just starting out in their DBA career. These are people who just want to learn.
- They also helped me find a topic based after some brainstorming about projects I was currently working on.
My first presentation was a lightening talk on database migrations. This is a topic that every DBA has to deal with. It is a complicated set of tasks that changes per database. I went up there and gave my talk. In my opinion, it went a little rough, but overall well enough. I told my story. I didn’t babble the entire time. After it was over, I felt good. I got through the talk with no cut, bruises or fruit being thrown my way.
I have since presented the topic on database migrations at both the Boston and Maine SQL Saturday events, and will be presenting it again in December at the Providence SQL Saturday. If you have not registered for this event yet, please do so as it will be a great event. Each time, I get a little better, a little more polished, and more importantly, a little more comfortable.
So, if I can pass along the advice I have learned,
- Not everyone is at the same level. Your experiences will help someone.
- Regardless of your level, your perspective on a topic will help others, even the MVPs.
- The best way to gain knowledge is to share knowledge.
- Your experiences are your value and your story. Tell them. Use your experiences as your topics and tell your story.
- The members of the user group and the SQL Community are there to help and guide you. Use them. They are a great resource. They are also extremely supportive.
I plan on continuing to speak. I already gave another lightening talk and I am looking to present at the next Boston SQL Saturday on a new topic. I hope you will read this and consider speaking as well.