I finally did it. I gave a technical presentation at a major conference.
I know, I know. It might not be a big deal for you, but it is for me. You see, that’s one of the things that I struggle with is being able to get up in front of my peers (or anybody for that matter) and talk, let alone talk about something technical. Actually, it was actually one of my high level goals, to give at least one technical presentation before year end.
My employer, Farm Credit Services of America, is a large supporter of the Heartland Developers Conference (HDC) and a couple of months ago an email came out asking if anybody wanted to speak. If so, be at this meeting at this time and bring your ideas. So, I showed up to the meeting, pitched my idea and next thing I knew it was being submitted for selection. Within a couple of hours, I get that email stating that my presentation was selected.
Of course, at this point I’m freaking out a bit. I had crossed the Rubicon and I was committed. For my fellow SQL nerds:
BEGIN TRAN UPDATE dbo.John SET IsSpeaking = 1 WHERE Conference = 'HDC' COMMIT TRAN GO
Unless I could fake my death, I was going to be speaking. I did have a reprieve to an extent, I was actually going to be c0-presenting with a .NET developer from another team, Karim.
For you see, our presentation was “10 Things Your DBA Wished You Knew” and it was going to be presented in a way so that developers could write better code to help out their SQL Server. I was going to be presenting on the ideas and methodologies and then my partner, Karim, would be showing the demo side of things in LINQ To SQL.
So here’s the agenda for the presentation:
- Data Types
- SELECT *
- SET based vs Row Based
- Error Handling
- Transaction Isolation
- Execution Plans
- Sargable Queries
- Pop Quiz
Fast forward to last week. Karim and I had rehearsed several times and we both felt comfortable with the presentation and the demos. We had made some minor tweaks along the way but all in all, we were ready.
Ok, hang with me. Jump forward to last Thursday. D-Day. Today was the day and it was going to happen whether I had knots in my stomach or not. I went to the office first to get some emails out of the way and get a good cup of coffee. Once I had taken care of some business stuff, I decided to head out to the conference so that I could get a feel for the land.
When I arrived and wandered around a bit, it hit me. Like a small truck hitting a watermelon on the highway.
The audience was potentially going to be MUCH larger than I had expected. I went to check out the room that I was going to be in and after looking at it, I figured that it would hold about 100 people in your usually classroom format. I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting something along the lines of a SQL Saturday where you had 30-40 people (maybe!) and in a normal class room. Nope, this room was a large conference room that had one of the largest projector screens that I have ever seen.
And I was going to be speaking in that room. Yikes!
Fast forward a couple of hours.
2:00PM. The session before us ends and people start to filter in and out of the room.
2:05PM. More people start to fill in the room and seating is becoming valuable real estate.
2:10PM. More people continue to fill in. People are standing. More people come in.
2:15PM. I look at Karim and we exchange quick nods like two people were about to face the firing squad.
2:16PM. I kick off the presentation. Standing room only. People are standing/sitting along the back way and down both sides of the room.
Well, we were rolling. Other than a few minor glitches, it went really smooth. We had some excellent questions from the audience and I think that only 1 person got up and left and we think that he had to take a phone call.
We think that we had well over 120 people in the room.
I will admit that we ran over by about 5 minutes and to be honest, I could have spent probably another hour or so talking about the concepts. I do love SQL Server after all.
Once it was all over and done with, I had several people come up to me and wanted to talk more about things. It was one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing that I had reached someone, and more than one!! It was right there and then that I realized that I was hooked on presenting.
I had one gentleman who asked if he could pick my brain for the next 6 hours or so. He was striving to get into the DBA world and for him to say that, it was quite the honor for me. I was floored. But that’s another story for another post.
The moral of the story, get out there and speak. Yes it takes hard work, practice and research, but if you are passionate about something like SQL Server, get out there and talk about it! You never know who you might reach with your talks.
To sound totally cliche, if I can do it, so can you!