For this T-SQL Tuesday Bob Pusateri asked us to share how we came to love presenting.
Before I ever got involved in computing technology I had (and still have) a love for the theatre, specifically musical theatre. When I was little the majority of albums (this was the 1950s, kids) we had were cast albums from Broadway shows my parents had seen at Musicarnival. I performed in shows all through school, and was a Theatre Major at Kent State University before I realized I needed to make a living.
It was this love of "performing" that had employers sending me to the trade shows to talk with customers. I wasn't the typical programmer, I could talk with people, even people I didn't know! One company was so impressed in my performance when I'd played Harold Hill in the show The Music Man that they made me a salesman. That failed miserably.
About eight years ago I started attending meetings of the Cleveland SQL Server group, at the Microsoft office in Independence, Ohio. As people had questions I'd pipe up and answer when I could, and as they needed someone to present I offered to put together my materials as a presentation. The first few times were a bit rough - ok, they were very rough - but the group was gracious and I learned to organize the material better. In addition to the user group presentations I'd been giving training presentations to the staff at work, getting them to understand SQL Server better to make my job as the DBA easier. This helped me develop my skills a lot.
I was first selected to speak at the PASS Summit in 2006, and I presented a session on SMO (Server Management Objects) and my demos all used Visual Basic. After the presentation a number of people came up to me and said they were administrators and weren't allowed to have Visual Studio on their desktop. PowerShell had just been introduced and I adjusted my material to use PowerShell.
Also in 2006 I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT). In teaching the official Microsoft courses I learned how to work with material I hadn't created myself, which then helped me build better presentations of my own material. I also learned that having to teach material forced me to learn it better myself. Someone will always ask questions about an aspect of the topic I'd never encountered. I found the best way to learn any topic is to teach it.
In the course of events I became the leader of the Ohio North SQL Server Users Group and at each meeting I ask everyone there to think about putting together a presentation for the group, so we can learn from them, and they can learn it better. We've got a great group of people who now present not just at our group but at others in the area and at SQL Saturdays and even the PASS Summit as well! I can't tell you how pleased I am at how many from our group are regular presenters in the SQL Server community now. These people include Erin Stellato ( b | t ), Sarah Dutkiewicz ( b | t ), Brian Davis ( b | t ), Adam Belebczuk ( b | t ), Craig Purnell ( b | t ), and Colleen Morrow ( b | t ), but more are stepping up regularly, and for that I thank each one of them.
Presenting is one of those magic activities in which everyone benefits. I'm fortunate that I have a natural inclination towards it, but love to see new people stepping up and sharing their experience and knowledge with the rest of the community.
See you at the next event!