Well sort of…it took a while.
I’d done some plays and singing at school but my mother made me practice and practice and practice and she was always in the crowd to cheer me on so it was never that bad, if ever I forgot my lines my mother who would now my lines better than I did would be there to mouth them to me from her seat so I was never that bothered. i didn’t like it but I was with my friends and it was OK
My first ‘real’ presentation was a group presentation that I was involved with at university and I’ve even forgotten the topic we were presenting on. I was studying for BSc in business so it would have had business related theme. This was part of the course work for the course so the result went towards final grades etc. Did I enjoy that experience? Simply No. I was nervous I dreaded the thought of it. So my group and I got together when we knew the topic and who is our group, we prepared and practiced and it went OK. We got good grade but I never stood there and enjoyed it.
After college I got a job at a local authority and one of my roles was explaining the local authorities e-government strategy to a range of people from inside and outside the authority and how it could help them interacting with the council. This involved presenting to small groups of people. I was always nervous and never enjoyed the experience, never mind loved it. I was so nervous I had to practice and practice and practice my presentations to make sure when I was stood there in front of a group of people I knew what I wanted to say.
I was then best man for my friend Chris ‘Duff’ Coombes. Did I enjoy that experience? Simply Yes BUT only when it was over. I wrote my speech, practiced it, changed it, practiced and it went well, all well before the big day. In the build up though, through the ceremony, during the wedding breakfast meal, I was uncomfortably nervous, I didn’t eat my meal. I was well practiced and just in case I lost a copy of speech, I printed out another copy for my other suit jacket pocket. Just in case I lost it. I then printed another one for my inside jacket pocket. Just in case I lost the other two But everybody laughed at my jokes and the groom asked for a copy of speech after I’d finished. I gave him all three copies, I managed to not lose one all day!!
I went on a DTS training course not long after this wedding. I had been working with SQL Server for a few years but never got involved with DTS. The company I was working for at the time were converting from Oracle to SQL Server and I needed to get the data out of Oracle and into SQL Server. We went with DTS. On this course my instructor was a person called Charles Kangai who is now my friend and colleague. Charles had this ability to make complex issues seem simple and did a great job in getting his knowledge of DTS across. He made me think, ‘I’d like to do that’
A few years later I went contracting, which means you are in business for yourself. This means you have to pitch to groups of people who are looking to secure your services. They always asked me questions that I knew the answers to and I liked prepare and practice and before hand. These ‘pitches’ have always gone well for me. I do get nervous but success breeds confidence and confidence breeds confidence. Never enough for me to over confident though
Now I make a living at it. As most of you know I have spent the last several years delivering SQL Server training courses for Learning Tree. This involves standing up of between 10 and 30 people presenting on SQL Server based topics. I do love this. The first course I delivered for Learning Tree though, I didn’t sleep for a week. I had a four day course, starting on Tuesday. Monday was spent with my good friend Bob Black who made me practice and practice my presentation opening. I was practicing all the weekend before but I was doing it again on the Monday. Monday night involved me going through the entire days material all night before going to bed. I could sleep but I dozed on and off all night. Quite simply I was nervous. Tuesday was day 1 and things went well. I was stood there in front of 24 people taking to them about SQL Server. Each day was a repeat the next, Deliver, prepare, not sleep. I was nervous but it went well, and my evaluations and the end of week were great! These days still involve nerves and preparation but I do sleep a little easier.
I recently presented at my first SQL Saturday down in Exeter in the UK. Again this followed a similar theme, practice, practice, practice. You can read more about that presentation in my SQL Server Saturday post. I hope to present at few more community events over the coming months and years
What I have learned over the years is thus.
- You will always be nervous
- Nerves a good thing…they make you prepare
- Being prepared is important, if you don’t prepare, prepare to fail.
I now love presenting. I manage the nerves and I prepare for every presentation the best I can.
This post is part TSQL2sDAY created by Adam Mechanic and is a monthly blog party that allows anyone to post a contribution on any given SQL Server topic. You can host a party yourself if you want to, get in touch with Adam if you want to.
This month’s party is being held by Bob Pusateri you can find his opening post here