This is the story of how I cam to love presenting, how we went through a rocky patch, but patched it up in the end.
Years ago I was getting swamped by work. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be another call coming in, another request for something to be done, another bit of housekeeping that was begging to get done, all of it landing on me and swamping me. End result,an unhappy DBA who didn’t feel as though he was developing any new skills or progressing his career.
Then I realised, hang on I’m part of a team, why aren’t we sharing? So at a rare team meeting I asked around, and it turned out we all felt the same. While we all wrote our mandated documentation, no one really felt they could delve into some else’s domain. So we decided the best way was to do presentations across the team, cross training each other into our areas.
This was a revelation. Suddenly people were interested in helping out, documentation didn’t seem quite so much of a chore as there was a real point to it. Team meetings changed from a dull routine to satisfy management into something to look forward to as a chance to learn something new. Everyone in the team learnt some new skills, and we became a much more efficient and cohesive team. And because we were efficient we had more time to learn new things for ourselves, so everyone was a winner. And I discovered I loved presenting. Seeing the light break as someone grasped a new concept, having to approach things from a different angle, having to break down concepts to there simplest levels to make sure I understood them; all of this was great
But soon the shine wore off a bit. We’d passed on all the work related information, and the excitement of presenting had warn off a bit as I knew my audience to well. With every presentation I knew the level to target, and even the best way to address a topic to specific team members. So me and my presenting stumbled around in the doldrums for a bit. I’d occasionally get excited when I learnt something new to me, but the thrill just wasn’t there anymore…..
I’d been attending SQL User groups for a year or so, and loved seeing some of the top SQL Server gurus from around the world presenting to small groups and having to deal with such a wide range of audience knowledge and engagement. I mean, only a short slot to present something technical, to a group you’ve never met, when you’ve no idea if there’s going to be an expert in the crowd ready to pick you up on something, where there could be a large section who have no interest in your topic but you still need to win them over, this looked like just my sort of gig.
I’ve now presented at 2 SQL Server user groups. And each time I got that same feeling from years ago. The flame is back, and I’m constantly thinking about how to improve my presentations, or how I can build one out of things I’m currently working on. I’m also paying more attention to speakers presenting skills than I did before, trying to work out if there’s anything I could ‘borrow’ to improve my skills. And I dig deeper into topics, because I want to be able to explain each oddity, or be ready for the off kilter question from the audience.
In fact most of my training for the coming year is based around becoming a better presenter and teacher. I want to do more User group presentations, have submitted to a couple of SQL Saturday events, and want to try to do some of the larger conferences next year. I’m also working on an MCT, and am even considering taking some speaking classes
So go on, get up on the stage. Presenting, whether to colleagues or a User Group could be just what you need to perk up your career or rekindle your passion for your job.