A few remarks and observations on presenting at one of the biggest events in the data community.
I’ll be honest here, I’m not one who uses bucket lists. But presenting at Pass Summit was something that was on my mental list of things I’d hope to achieve one day. Then the original PASS organisation passed (no pun intended) and it was rescued by the wonderful people of Redgate software. No small feat because there was a lot of sentiment around this.
This year the PASS Summit got renamed to PASS Data Community Summit and turned into a 100% online event. That provided an opportunity to try and get in. My full length session didn’t get accepted and no hard feelings there. The content that was provided was of a level above me I’ve yet to reach. But then they gave me the chance for a lightning talk. And it got accepted.
At this point I had a number of challenges. Building a session that would span no more than 15 minutes and record it at home. Building a session is always hard, building a short one even harder but it keeps you focused on the content.
Recording it was a whole different experience. Talking on your own to a camera is something that takes time to get used to. Even more because my house is quite open. We’ve got a lack of doors that make sure every sound travels from bottom to top and back. Getting a quiet moment to record without distractions is a challenge. My awesome wife understood and took our son out to give the best environment possible.
I practiced my session with the online Microsoft Powerpoint app to check on speed, ehm’s, ah’s and general pace. I’ve lost count of the numbers of times I got stuck, had to rewrite and try again. And just as I got onto solid ground, I followed a session by Alexander Arvidsson about how to tell a story. Back to the drawing board for further improvements. If you have the chance, go to his session. Or follow any other session by him and check out the way he tells a story. So many things to learn there. Whilst I was writing this blog, a new session came online about presenting online. Really worth watching!
Anyway, time to record the session. I had a few days to the deadline but just one day because we were off to a weekend elsewehere. With Powerpoint and OBS running, time to record. Take one, failed within a minute. Take two, failed at three minutes. Take N, failed again. But in the end, I made it to the end. I had to walk away once to relax a bit. Then it worked out.
After sending the session to the portal, there was the wait for the release. And the wonder if people would be interested. Well, last time I checked there were 14 attendees and a number of them (you maybe?) left comments.
Now there’s one thing that needs some extra attention. If you provide feedback, you have to be honest. If you don’t like a session your not supposed to lie and tell speakers you liked the session. Tell the speaker what to improve, what you think could be done better. And most importantly, tell it in a constructive way.
There are enough examples on how to react in a positive way, even when you think the speaker has to improve (a lot). Speakers usually don’t mind hearing that. Just like you, we want to get better at what we do. But remember! Most speakers take a lot of their time out of their private lives to create sessions to share with you. The last thing they need is being heckled, shot down or told off. We’re all grown-ups and can act like one. And, if you’re not nice, you might get evicted from conferences, events and miss out on all the good stuff that’s on offer.
What’s next? Well, a full length session of course. SQL Bits, Data Grillen, the Dutch Data Platform User Group and all kinds of events I don’t know yet. But speaking usually gives an enormous boost into wanting to do more.
Thanks for reading!
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