Thoughts from a New Speaker

Sunday afternoon…enjoying the “Post SQL Saturday” calm…

SQL Saturday Houston was yesterday, which in and of itself is not that unusual for me.   I’ve been to many technical conferences over the last 18 years…4 SQL Saturdays, 2 PASS Summits, SQL Server launch events, TechNet stuff back in the late 90’s and more user group meetings than I can count.

This particular event was the first time I ever went as a speaker.   Its technically the first time I’ve ever spoken to a technical audience.   12 years ago I did a demo of some Red Gate tools, but that was a short ad-hoc thing.  I’ve taught a few training classes in the workplace and am currently doing a 5 week fundamentals class now.  Small, interactive and very different than yesterday.

Wisdom for first time speakers can be found all over.   Blogs, Twitter, and there is even a Slack channel for it in the SQL Community slack. Almost all of that says to start small, like at work or at the local user group.  Practice and rehearse, until your dog and kids know your topic inside and out. Never type in a demo, etc.

I prepared a slide deck and pretty much winged it…which is what I do best.  If I rehearse things I get nervous and wind up second guessing myself.  I skipped the local user group part and went straight for  SQL Saturday.  I applied to speak at Houston (DR/Backups) and Chattanooga (Security) hoping to get a nibble on one.  Much to my surprise I was accepted to both.  Apparently the desire for beginner/fundamental topics is significant.  The attention some of my fundamental blog posts gets tends to support this.

My session went really well (in my opinion), with the only technical issue being a projector that overheated and had to cool for a few minutes. As a joke I broke out my backup laptop claiming to have been half-prepared.

I was a bit nervous the day before, but when I got to the event site and into the Speakers/Sponsor/Volunteer room, all that went away.  I almost had a last minute switch of session times with Bob Ward, as he was running a little late.  But, he got there with a few minutes to spare.

One of the best prep things I did was go to Brent Ozar’s (b|t)performance tuning pre-conference on Friday.  I went as much to watch presentation style as for the knowledge being shared.  Brent is a great presenter.  I also really enjoy anything Pinal Dave (b|t)has to say, mostly due to the excitement and passion he delivers it with.  Pinal could make a snail race exciting.

The San Jacinto Junior College facility was fantastic with clean rooms, stable WiFi, etc.  Everything there looks new.  The local SQL Saturday team had all the bases covered.  Allen (t), Devon (t), Sarah and the rest made for a fantastic day.

I’m looking forward to Chattanooga next weekend, and who knows where beyond that.   If you are interested is presenting, don’t let anything stop you from responding to a call for speakers.  Applying is half the battle 🙂

Thanks for reading,





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