Well, as some of you know i recently (last few months) started speaking at our local user groups. This weekend was my first time speaking at a SQL Saturday. In addition to my planning duties this year i figured i wanted to give speaking on a larger stage a shot.
After running around like a chicken with my head cut off most of the morning, going to my room to speak was actually one of the more relaxing things i did!
I wasn't really expecting much attendence wise as being a beginner topic, i'm never sure what the demographics of the attendees is so it's hard to judge. I was expecting to be happy with 5-10 people in the room...there was more than that sitting down when i got into the room 10 minutes early!
Anyone who's chatted with me knows I don't typically have a problem speaking in front of people, so i started some idle chatter with the attendees already present. This worked well because it really just flowed right into my session so there wasn't any awkward silence or dull crowd folks were easily engageable so that made me much more at ease.
The presentation actually felt like it was going really well until i got to my demos. In an effort to make a "longer running demo" i modified one of my demos the morning of and apparently didn't test it well enough because it ended up pulling my machine to it's knees for about 6 minutes that i hadn't planned on. I already had this topic pretty tightly scheduled, but i'm the kind of guy who likes to get alot of info in a session so i figured my style would lend towards the same. The time spent trying to kill my first demo ended up making me cut my second demo, 2 discussion slides, and Q&A short. I was expecting this to really turn off my attendees.
As i wrapped up, i realized my proctor hadn't handed out slips...this i thought would be the end of me. How can i cut my presentation short, shove some slips in front of folks as the time had already expired, and expect any type of decent reviews. Lets just say i wasn't immediately pumped about sitting down to read through them.
I met up with some colleagues and chatted awhile and it wasn't for about 30 minutes that i actually sat down to go through them. I had received 18 feedback forms, that's AWESOME. I know not everyone took the time to and of those 18 i got 7-10 actual comments all of which were encouraging. When the "worst" feedback was "you need a longer session"...i felt like i'd just conquered another country single-handedly or something. It was such a great rush.
Then while moseying around during lunch one of my attendees stopped me to say how much he enjoyed my session and asked me a few questions about some recent issues he was having and steps he'd taken to get a second opinion on if he was going about his issues the right way. After a good conversation, he told me that he enjoyed and got more out of my intro level sessions than he'd gotten out of some bigger conferences and trainings that he'd been to....lets just say i was riding cloud9 over here!
The day was an exciting, exhausting, fun-filled day of responsibilities, learning, and sharing knowledge unlike anything i'd experienced before. Speaking at the event made a world of difference compared to all the other times i've "just attended".
I'd recommend that any of you that read this and have even an inkling of an idea to speak. DO IT, hone your presentation at company lunch and learns, give them at local user groups, even ask to get some mentoring/review on a personal level from a respected peer. It was so much more rewarding actually giving back to the community and getting the appreciative feedback than it ever has been simply consuming other peoples knowledge!