You don’t have to be an expert to speak

Brent Ozar recently posted a great blog post for people who are setting goals to speak in 2011.  His post motivated me to do one for people who are interested in speaking but don’t because they think you must be an expert.  I have a secret for you, I use to be one of those people. If you learn anything from me please check out the next sentence.  You don’t have to be an expert to speak in the SQL Server community.

I am not an expert but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night...

I am not an expert but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night...

I have proof that you don’t have to be an expert to speak.  I did a lightning talk at the world’s largest and best conference for SQL Server professionals and while I strive to be an expert I have a long way to go!

In my opinion speaking is just like playing any sport.  You cannot get better if you don’t get out there and practice, practice, practice. If you don’t practice speaking how can you become an expert speaker? The SQL Server Community is awesome and they have your back. There are several avenues for people to start speaking.  Experts are also willing to give you pointers along your way to help you get better.

What should I talk about?

This one is easy, talk about what you know. A list of tips or best practices you have discovered through your quest of SQL Server greatness would be a great start.   Recently, I have spent quite a bit of time figuring out how I could monitor and apply best practices to my SQL Server farm.  I compiled my notes and a presentation was born.

A well known speaker already submitted my topic

Submit your topic anyway.  Speakers usually submit multiple topics expecting to only do a couple presentations. If you submit your abstract it might get accepted so the other speaker can do another presentation.  Andy Warren (blog | @sqlandy) just wrote a blog post about missing an opportunity to speak. Andy thinks that  too many speakers is a good thing.

Where should I speak?

There are several options for you to  speak do your thing:

If you have never submitted a session to a User Group, SQL Saturday, Virtual chapter do it.  Trust me, if I can give a presentation anyone can.

  • http://www.brentozar.com Brent Ozar

    Congrats on taking the plunge, and great post!

  • http://mattvelic.com Matt Velic

    Very nice post. I’m thinking about this more and more nowadays, especially given the number of times I was asked to do User Group presentations this past weekend (Looking at you, Brian G…). I think speaking also has a number of other positive repercussions, such as gaining confidence for other kinds of meetings, giving you more opportunities to network, becoming a better communicator. It’s all good stuff.

    And thanks again for coming to DC, we were glad to host you. (though I’m sorry I missed your talk – but I missed them all!)

  • http://johnsterrett.com johnsterrett

    Brent, thank you for your feedback. I cannot wait for my next turn…

  • http://johnsterrett.com johnsterrett

    Matt, I like your comment. I have to admit I am more confident since I started speaking. I still get nervous every time I speak but I hear that’s a good thing. I just need to channel it and use it to my advantage.

  • http://NULLgarity.wordpress.com Brian Garraty

    John – I look forward to seeing more of your presentations in the future. You seem to have a knack for conveying relevant ideas in simple terms. Also look forward to getting you to speak to our group in Virginia Beach either live or via satellite.

    Matt – looking forward to getting your abstract for your first presentation to the Hampton Roads SQL Server User Group…. How about April 2011? =)

  • http://johnparkinson.me John Parkinson

    Very well done. Hopefully we can get the blogger session scheduled for GWC. I want to hear what you, Justin and Russell have to say.

  • http://www.sqlandy.com Andy Warren

    John, I love the emphasis on practice and sharing the practice run. The most common error I see is lack of practice. Amazing what a couple real practice attempts due for both confidence and quality. Thanks for doing the lightning talk at the Summit!