First foray into presenting

It’s been a while since I’ve posted as the run up to Xmas last year and this January have been particularly busy. February doesn’t seem to be going to be any quieter but at least I’m being kept on my toes.

Anyway, waaaay back in December the SQL Server Ireland User Group (website) ran a Xmas “extravaganza” in which they held a series of lightening talks. Presenting is something that I’ve wanted to get into for a while so with a bit of pushing from one of the guys on the panel, I signed myself up. The talk only needed to be 5 minutes long but this was ideal for me considering I’ve never presented before.

The talk I did was on how I implemented partitioning on a set of existing tables within my company’s OLTP databases. First time presenting? Stick with something you know. I also felt pretty safe from awkward questions (or people pointing out how I could have implemented the solution more effectively!) as I wanted the session to be very specific to the environment I was working with and the limitations/restrictions I had to deal with.

So how did I do? Well considering I was quite convinced that I was going to stammer, freeze up and then flee the room (honestly, I thought this WAS what was going to happen)…quite well really. I did have a minor technical glitch…I was duplicating my desktop onto the projected screen and it started reverting back to extend (as I have it in the office), so the screen on the projector went blank. Not a problem at first as this happened when I was setting up so I quickly went into settings and set it back to duplicate.

However, I did this too quickly and forgot to click the “Keep Changes” option so after 10 seconds it reverted and the screen went blank again. So I went back into the settings, fixed it, forgot to click “Keep Changes” and ended up in this loop until one of the other presenters helped me out (thankfully). In the end I managed to laugh it off, continue and ended up winning a bottle of champagne for “Best New Speaker” so I’m not going to obsess about that too much (I promise).

In the end I really enjoyed the whole experience…OK…looking back with rose tinted glasses I enjoyed it, at the time I was too nervous. I’m not going to turn this post into another “Best pieces of advice for first time presenters” (although I can’t promise I won’t do one of those posts in the future) but one thing I will say is know, really know your presentation. Go over it over and over, practice continuing when making mistakes and don’t stick to a rigid script. By this I mean, if you go off track slightly, you’ll be able to make it through without stumbling over or losing track.

So what now? Well I’ve been accepted to present another lightening talk at SQL Saturday Exeter. It’s only 10 minutes I know but it’s double what I’ve done previously and the SQL Saturday events are much bigger. I’ll post about how it went afterwards but for now I’m looking forward to it, until the panic sets in!