Presentation Goals For Next Year

This was a big year for me as a presenter, having the opportunity to present at a dozen SQL Saturdays, not to mention SQL Server and .NET user group meetings in the Raleigh area as well as Lynchburg, Virginia.  Over the course of the next year, I want to expand upon my hard-earned experience and take the next step as a speaker.  Here are my goals:

  1. Present four new talks.
  2. Present to two brand new audiences.
  3. Speak at 12 SQL Saturdays and eight user groups.
  4. Get paid to speak at a conference.

Present Four New Talks

Over the past year and a half, I’ve honed two talks to the point that I’m happy to give them anywhere, any time.  I also have a couple of talks that I’ve given in the past and would like to get tuned to the point that I’m totally comfortable with them.  That range is okay, but I want to expand and give some brand new talks.  Some of it is me embracing the new, shiny things—R and Hadoop—as well as some of the “weird” side of the SQL world, like BIML.

Why four talks?  Because that sounds like an achievable goal.  It’s one talk per quarter, with the expectation that I can give each talk two or three times, sharpening it as I go along.  I’ll have plenty of material for user groups, and this will make me a more enticing option to bring to a user group or conference, because I’ll have a broader range of topics.  This will also help me grow as a speaker.

In order for me to grow as a speaker, I need to get out of my comfort zone present to some new audiences, and the easiest way to do that is to build up talks geared more for Python developers, data analysts, Hadoop developers, and people who know the technologies better than I do, but may not know how to tie them to SQL Server.  This leads right into my next topic.

Present To Two New Audiences

The RTP area has an abundance of user groups covering all kinds of technical interests.  Historically, I’ve presented at the .NET User Group’s data SIG as well as the local PASS Chapter.  I really enjoy both of those groups, but I’m also a member of several other user groups, including Powershell, Hadoop, and research & analytics groups.  I’ve never presented before these audiences, but as I get to know people in that field a little better and begin to understand the world according to a Hadoop developer or administrator, or what makes a data analyst tick, it will help me grow in my career and open up new interests.  This is an exciting prospect.

To these audiences, I think the biggest thing I have to bring to the table is my knowledge of the SQL Server side of things.  This will let me focus on topics like how to integrate SQL Server + Hadoop (using PolyBase, SSIS, Sqoop, etc.) or SQL Server + R (using RODBC or SQL Server 2016).  A fair percentage of the audience may not use SQL Server, but I want to entertain and inform, even if it’s not quite in their wheelhouse—that’s what I do with Hadoop, after all, when I bring it to audiences of .NET and SQL developers who haven’t yet seen the elephant in the room.

I’d love to be able to expand from there and become more than “the SQL Server guy who knows a little X” but the only way to do that, short of a career change, is to start at the beginning, make these connections, and learn from others in these communities.  And like the saying goes, there’s no better way to learn than to teach.

Speak At 12 SQL Saturdays And 8 User Groups

Holy moley, that’s a lot of talks.  I had the great fortune to speak at SQL Saturdays across the eastern US and midwest, and it was hard at times.  2016 is going to be the year in which I take those hard-earned lessons from the past year and push a little further.  I love helping people learn, really enjoy traveling to speak, and have grown to appreciate the value of making these connections with other speakers, community leaders, and conference attendees.

So where do I plan to speak?  Obviously, the answer is dependent upon who selects me, but I’d love to repeat at the SQL Saturdays I hit last year, as well as adding some places like Kansas City (for the barbecue crawl and to see some friendly faces in the area) and China.  The wife and I are thinking of a trip to China next year and the opportunity to present at a conference in Peking, Shanghai, Tianjin, or someplace else would fit perfectly with our plans.

A little closer to home, I know there are several user groups in the North Carolina and Virginia area, and introducing myself to those SQL Server User Groups and .NET User Groups would be a great way to give back to some of those places.

Get Paid To Speak At A Conference

I don’t want to turn speaking into a full-time job, but I think the next big step for me is to get accepted to speak at a conference in which I get paid to speak.  I love SQL Saturdays and what they bring to the SQL Server community.  They’re a fantastic way of seeing the world and getting good, free training.  But for me as a speaker, the next step is to get accepted to a conference which will pay me to come out.  It’s not so much about the money (although hey, I like money), but rather the vindication in knowing that I have the skills to teach and train people willing to fork out hard-earned cash.  I want to show that I can earn that respect.

Note that “paid conference” doesn’t have to be a huge one like PASS Summit or DevConnections.  I may submit for some of those, but I expect that I’m at least a year or two away from serious consideration.  I need to hone my skill and improve my performances before I think I’m ready to speak at the big show.

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