This month, Andy Yun (@sqlbek) is hosting T-SQL Tuesday. This blog party was started several years ago by Adam Machanic (@AdamMachanic). This month’s topic is growing new speakers. Experienced speakers are asked to give advice to those who would like to become experienced speakers. Andy has also offered to help new speakers get started or connect new speakers to experienced speakers for assistance.
First of all, I want to mention that the PASS WIT virtual chapter will feature new speakers in January. We still have a couple of open spots, so, if you are a woman who would like to take advantage of this opportunity, please reach out to us by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would say that I am an experienced speaker. I have spoken at numerous SQL Saturdays, PASS Summit, user groups, and other events. Of course I was pretty scared at first, but eventually, I learned to love speaking in front of groups.
I often talk to people in the SQL community about getting started speaking. I hear one concern over and over, “What if someone asks a question, and I don’t know the answer?” Guess what, it is going to happen eventually, and it is not the end of the world. When you are speaking, you are there to share something you know, not prove that you are smarter than everyone else in the room. It’s OK to give your best answer, but admit you are not 100% sure or it’s something that you have not thought about before. Offer to follow up with the person after you have done some research. Often, I am asked about something I haven’t tried before. If there is time, I may experiment right then to find out, but this is not always a good idea. Going off script can lead you down some “rat holes” as I like to say.
The best way to prepare for the big day is to rehearse. Not only will this help you figure out what you are going to say, it can also help you smooth out your demos. I dread rehearsing. It just feels unnatural to me. To get around this, I will rehearse while recording the presentation. Somehow, this actually makes me feel like I am giving the presentation for real.
You may think that speaking is not for you. After all, you are a developer or DBA and maybe you don’t care about making a name for yourself in the community. I counter that communication skills are extremely important for your career. Whether you want to get your ideas heard in your team, get a promotion, or look for a better job, public speaking is going to help you!