Today’s post is for those of you who give presentations to user groups and conferences.
Upload your resources before the session starts. When you say “I’ll upload the resources later,” the attendee hears you saying, “I’m winging this, I barely finished this deck 15 minutes ago, and I didn’t even have the time to upload it to the Internet.” For bonus points, upload your resources at least 2 days before the session. SQL Saturday attendees frequently tell me, “I read through your slides and they looked really interesting, so I picked your session. Thanks for sharing them in advance.” On the flip side, I’ve sat through sessions where the abstract looked really compelling, but the slides had absolutely nothing to do with the abstract – and if I’d have seen those slides ahead of time, I’d have picked a session that was a better fit for my goals. Honor your attendees’ time: upload the slides first.
While people are walking in, show the abstract. The first slide in your deck should show the session title and the first paragraph of the abstract in large print. Make it easy for people to understand if they’re in the right session, and remind them of your goals. This helps set expectations so that your feedback forms don’t say, “The presentation didn’t match the abstract.” (This also helps remind *you* of what you need to teach.) No slide deck? No problem – put it in a text editor in large print.
Record yourself at least once. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just leave your phone on the podium and use its sound recording app. Later – at least a day later – go back and listen. You’re probably going to cringe at first, hearing yourself speak, but it’ll clue you in to all kinds of nervous habits you didn’t realize you had. Your attendees won’t write in the feedback forms, “You say ‘right?’ at the end of every single sentence.” They’re going to assume you already know. You don’t, thus the recording.
If you teach T-SQL, restore the database before every presentation. Set up an Agent job to restore your demo database from scratch. Before you rehearse or deliver your presentation, start by running that job. This will make sure you’ve got all your dependencies lined up as part of your demo scripts, making it more likely that your demos will work as you designed ’em – especially important when you only give the presentation once or twice a year. It’ll also be easier for attendees to follow along with your demo scripts later. They won’t be stuck wondering why a particular query doesn’t work the way you demo’d – because you’d forgotten to include a crucial index change or server setting.