T-SQL Tuesday #133 : What (Else) Have You Learned from Presenting?

T-SQL Tuesday #133 : What (Else) Have You Learned from Presenting?For this month's T-SQL Tuesday, Lisa Bohm asks us what (else) we have learned from presenting.

I have given a lot of presentations, and have learned from just about every one of them. There was the time I learned not to trust US Airways to get me to Poland 12 hours before my pre-con, the time I learned to rehearse a keynote to make sure my content filled more than half the time slot, and the time I learned that, sometimes, projectors just explode.

One of the most important combo lessons I've learned, though, and that I've learned multiple times, is:

  • be prepared; and,
  • don't ad-lib

One of the more painful instances I can remember happened about a decade ago at SQLintersection, where I was hosting a SQL Sentry vendor session with my good friend Kevin Kline.

We were showing off the new Availability Groups interface that visualizes states and data flow between replicas, but I hadn't memorized what all the little graphic nuances represented. So I kind of did the hand-wavy dance around those specifics, until Kevin ad-libbed the question, "What does that icon mean, Aaron?"

I froze. I wasn't prepared for that question (like I should have been), and I certainly wasn't prepared to get quizzed by my co-presenter. I honestly drew a blank and couldn't remember what the icon he had pointed to represented. I fumbled and stumbled trying to answer, hoping Kevin would save me, but he quickly confessed he didn't know either. It was embarrassing enough that Brent Ozar was in the audience, but he also tweeted something comical about it (albeit, thankfully, without naming names). I still feel shame over that one, and will never forget how much I learned that day.

So, please, if you're presenting on a topic, know the material thoroughly. Always be prepared for left-field questions, but also don't invite them by going off-script. I'm not throwing Kevin under the bus, because I know he learned the same lessons that day. 🙂

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, speak frequently at conferences, and write at SQLPerformance and MSSQLTips. In real life I am a father of two, an architect at Wayfair, and my pronouns are he/him.