Speaker Buddy System

SirSQL made a rather stirring post recently. He talked about a speaker buddy system to help out new speakers in our community that are trying to make the jump to a SQL Saturday or any larger event. I think it's a fantastic idea. He brought on a story of a girl named Anna who felt so put off by her experience that she'll never speak again. Anna was made up for his post to emphasize his point. I'm going to add a personal story to this as well.

I've been helping with SQL Saturdays in OKC, OK for going on 4 years. I decided to get into speaking this year. I haven't given a presentation or had any face time in front of a large group (3+ people) since high school.My first presentation was at our local user group. They gave great feedback and gave me some great pointers. My second one was in Tulsa's local user group. Great people, great presentation and useful feedback. 3 days after that, me and my wife drove down to Houston's SQL Saturday and I gave my first presentation at a SQL Saturday. 

I noticed a few things that I hadn't before. I've been to multiple SQL Saturdays in various states. I've helped presenters who struggled figuring out how that school or building sets up their projection system. I've seen speakers and people in general that were lost to where they're supposed to go. I've seen presenters rushing in the crowd with the rest of us trying to get to a room on time. The difference for them is that they still need to sit down, set up, check that the presentation view or demo comes over correctly and calm down for the presentation.

 When I sat behind the desk for my first SQL Saturday, I had to figure out what strange settings and controls their presentation setup had. I have no clue why it seems like every school and conference center insists on having a completely different presentation setup. I digress. I was a bit familiar with the drill. I got in the room, started setting up immediately, checked the screens and just waited. I was excited, nervous and a bit on edge to see how many people came in the room and what sort of questions I'd get.

I had 4 people show up. One was a couple who stared at their phones the entire time. My presentation went a bit faster than it should have since I had no audience to get some back and forth with. I was not prepared for a 4 person silent room. I had one question that was related to but off the main topic and in an area I'm not 100% familiar with. If that had been my first interaction with SQL Saturdays, it would have been my last. I had driven 9 hours down on my weekend to stand in front of 4 people to give a quick nervous presentation and not be able to answer the one question asked, even if it was off topic. 

I would have loved to have someone in there that's done this a few times. They might have been able to stir a few questions out and help me see how to spin up a crowd. They could have given me some advice on what I did wrong or right. If I hadn't worked with a dozen or so different projection setups in the past, they would have been extremely useful in helping me not stress over hooking up a screen.

Now, I know that's not how all SQL Saturdays are. Very few actually end up like that. I know my topic is a bit strange anyways. I've signed up to speak and 5 locations this year. Houston, Baton Rouge, OKC, Kansas City and St. Louis. I've been accepted to the first 4 and St. Louis hasn't closed yet. I plan on treating each and every one of these as my first event. I think a first time speaker buddy system is a fantastic idea. I hope it catches on quickly.


  1. Anonymous25/7/14 07:57

    I believe when you said, "Now, I know that's now how all SQL Saturdays are" that you meant "Now, I know that's _NOT_ how all SQL Saturdays are."

    - Adam (LoudClear on SQLServerCentral)

    1. You're correct. Thanks for the catch! It's been corrected.

  2. Anonymous25/7/14 20:39

    My recommendation is that no new speaker try to take on the likes of an SQL Saturday. Instead, volunteer to give a presentation at the local PASS chapter. Tell them that you're trying to work out the bugs in a presentation and ask them for thoughtful hints, tips, corrections, and criticisms. Then try the SQL Saturday.

    --Jeff Moden

    1. I agree. I went to two user groups before my first SQL Saturday. That being said, SQL Saturdays are very different from the user groups. You get to meet these people and you probably have known them for some time. SQL Saturdays have a completely different audience style.

  3. Anonymous30/7/14 14:01

    I know how you feel, buddy. Keep your head up and continue speaking. Maybe you might need to change your topic to something interesting to the audience. Adapt to what the market want is what I learned in my business venture. It might be helpful if you get Julie Koesmarno in your presentation. I'll definitely show up. =)

    - OU Truth Seeker

    1. I like my topic for now, but I am working on a second one to add to this list. I don't wish to change my interests to much to match a market. Right now I'm sharing what interests me and what might interest someone else. Besides Joe, if you're that interested in Julie, you might start following her blog at http://www.mssqlgirl.com/ and start learning some BI. It could be good for you!


All opinions welcome! Please comment with any changes thoughts or discussion points.