Quick Thoughts On 50 SQL Saturdays

This post is a bit late, as I actually blew past 50 SQL Saturdays earlier in the year, but now that the year is over, I wanted to reflect just a little bit on why I enjoy speaking at SQL Saturdays.

I’ve spoken at 57 of them so far and want to break 75 in 2018.  Here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

  • 2013:  1
  • 2014:  3
  • 2015:  9
  • 2016:  22
  • 2017:  22

I love that the institution of SQL Saturday is popular enough that someone can attend 20+ events a year all all around the world.  In my case, the vast majority of my travel is inside the United States, but I get to see parts of the country that I otherwise couldn’t (or wouldn’t think to visit), and I like that.

If you’ve thought about speaking at a SQL Saturday, I highly recommend giving it a shot.  You don’t have to be a great speaker, and definitely don’t need to be a natural speaker in order to present.  That’s exactly the situation I was in back in 2013, when I gave my first SQL Saturday presentation.  That talk had a total of four attendees and it wasn’t a polished talk at all—which is a nice way of saying that even my recollection of the talk was that it wasn’t very good…though at least I still had all 4 attendees at the end of the talk!  But like with everything else, you get better through practice and training.

You also don’t need to criss-cross the country; start with a local conference if there are any, or a nearby regional conference if you can get away with it.  If you speak at one a year, you’re still getting good experience presenting and helping share your knowledge with the community, as well as picking up additional information and potentially making great contacts and friends.

And if you happen to be in the southeast, you should submit for the Raleigh, North Carolina SQL Saturday on April 14th.

Presentation Goals For 2018

My presentation goals for 2018 will be about as ambitious as they were for 2017.  That means a lot of speaking for travel, though I’m also going to mix in some at-home speaking as well.

Speak at 20 SQL Saturdays and 10 User Groups

This worked pretty well for me last year, so I want to keep it up.  I already have commitments for two SQL Saturdays and three user groups, so that’s looking good.

Speak in 5 Countries Across 3 Continents

Now we’re getting somewhere.  I want to do some more travel this year.  Last year, I did speak in 3 continents, but only three countries.  This year, I want to expand it out.  Note that this does not include webinars; I have to be physically in-country for it to count.

Give 8 Webinars

I only got up to 5 last year, so I want to push myself a little harder this year.  If you happen to run a user group and could make use of a remote speaker, I’m happy to step up.

Create 4 Full-Length Talk Videos

Last year, I started experimenting with recording my talks at home.  My first talk was Much Ado About Hadoop.  From there, I recorded Applying Forensic Accounting Techniques with SQL and R.  I want to do four more of those recordings this upcoming year and also get a bit better with Camtasia in the process.

Presentation Review, 2017

It’s been another busy year for me presenting. Over the course of 2017, I gave a total of 50 talks at 42 events.  It’s been a lot of fun getting to travel around the world, hitting places as far apart as Vienna, Austria and Sydney, Australia.  I’m hoping to keep up this pace for next year as well.

Now, to look at the goals I had set for the year.  As a quick reminder of my 2017 goals:

  1. Speak at 20 SQL Saturdays and 10 user groups
  2. Speak at 2 paid conferences
  3. Give 6 webinars
  4. Do a full-length, pictures-only talk

I wasn’t quite as successful this year as I was last year.  Let’s see how I did:

Speak at 20 SQL Saturdays and 10 user groups

I ended up speaking at 22 SQL Saturdays this year (and would have been 23, had I not gotten sick the day before SQL Saturday Pittsburgh), so I beat that part of the goal.  As far as user groups go, I barely eeked out speaking at 10 distinct user groups.  So a big green checkmark for this goal.

Speak at 2 paid conferences

Another goal I ended up hitting.  I spoke at NDC Sydney in August, as well as the Mid-Atlantic SQL Server Conference and IT/Dev Connections in October.

Give 6 webinars

Missed it by that much.  I ended up doing 5 webinars this year.  I was pushing for them earlier in the year but slacked off in the middle and that made all the difference.

Do a full-length, pictures-only talk

I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I did end up doing a 10-minute talk which was dominated with pictures, but that’s not quite good enough to count.

On the plus side, I’ve been focusing on more graphics-heavy talks, so at least I’m moving toward a better equilibrium on that front.

Overall Thoughts

I know I made my 2017 goals pretty ambitious, so I’m happy that I was able to do two of them.  Doing more webinars is high on my agenda, particularly now that I have a decent recording setup.  And that will also let me create more videos of my talks.