This year we had a new item at the 2014 PASS Summit: Speaker Idol. Run by Denny Cherry ( blogs | @mrdenny ), this is a contest where people who have never been selected to speak at Summit get the opportunity to win a golden ticket (an automatic speaking slot) at Summit 2015. To win, speakers must put together a 5 minute lightning talk, then impress the judges more than any other speaker in the competition.
I competed in a similar contest at TechEd two years ago. The difficult part about this is there are no criteria for which you can prepare. You don’t know what the judges think are good habits or what topics they might enjoy. They might even give conflicting advice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a crowd, give your presentation, then be critiqued by others in front of a crowd.
A few of us judges are blogging today about the things we commented on to the presenters:
Denny Cherry discusses the overall process used to put it all together
Joey D’Antoni focused mostly on physical presence while speaking
If others blog, I’ll update this post with links.
Today I’m going to continue on with Joey’s theme of physical presence.
Move, But Don’t Wander
It’s really difficult when you are stressed or nervous to get the timing and location of moving around right. Some people hug the lectern as if they are on flight experiencing extreme turbulence. Others pace back and forth like a caged animal hungry for fresh meat. At some conferences at Summit, this is compounded by a speaker set up where there’s a table, a lectern and several chairs. The AV equipment is often taped or strapped down so that your laptop must be located on the lectern. I find this annoying because presenting isn’t the same as giving a speech. Presenting and training involve more discussions with the audience and need more engagement than just speaking at a group of people.
The raised podium effect also means that moving around can lead to falling off the stage. Not a good thing.
Joey gave advice to stand with your feet together. I usually give other advice: stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart, then move your feet about 3 inches further apart. This sort of forces you to stay put for a while because it feels slightly off, but not enough to make it feel awkward. It’s harder to move out of that stance and it tends to be a more powerful, competent looking to the audience. Move around to ensure you aren’t blocking the same audience members for your whole presentation. Move to show that you and the audience are working together to learn.
Remember: pacing back and forth is bad, but taking a few steps in a variety of directions can help you engage different members of the audience. Have a purpose when you move.
A Mic Changes Everything
Most speakers would prefer not to use a microphone. A hand mic plus a remote means both our hands are tied up. A lavaliere mic (one that clips on your shirt and has a pack that has to be stuck in a pocket or worn in the back) means everything you do or say is being amplified. But when sessions are recorded, broadcast or in large rooms, audio equipment is mandatory.
One of the more common mistakes the speakers made was leaning forward then turning their heads to read the slides on the screen. This meant that as they were talking, they were talking away from the mic. We judges were in the front row and I had a hard time hearing what was said.
The trick is to turn your whole body when you are mic-ed up. Do this even when you are turning to speak to an audience member and to highlight something on the screen.
Remember: The audio portion of your presentation is just as important as the visuals. Probably even more important.
Don’t Read Your Slides to the Audience
This is a tough habit to break, especially if you are running short on time. It’s the most common feedback I hear from people who are attending sessions and are frustrated by the speaker. This is especially common with lightning talks because time is so limited. If you read your slides to the audience, you are basically showing them that you don’t really need to be there speaking. You could just email blast out your slides and be sitting in the bar enjoying a conference-themed beverage.
One of the ways to break this habit is to have fewer words on your slides. More on this later.
Another way is to have speaker notes that you can see when you are presenting. These should have different words/bullet points and that will force you to explain things in different words. PowerPoint shows these notes when you are in presentation mode.
The best way to break this habit, though, is to not look at your slides when you speak. Look at the audience. Engage with them. Offer insights into what is on the slides, but do that while having a conversation with the audience.
Remember: You are there to give insights and to engage with the audience. Your slides are there to support that, not the other way around.
One of the more interesting things about being a judge is that we all talked about how we are also guilty of many of these speaker vices. We recognized that while we were giving all this advice, we all needed to take care when we presented, too. I’m sure it was difficult for the contestants to be judged in public. It was difficult for us doing that as well.
I’ve blogged about what to do when something goes wrong during your presentation, but I’ll be blogging about those things and more as part of this series. I’ll be talking about equipment, preparation and delivery. Plus being judge-y .
shared some of these on Twitter, but I decided to pull them all together in one place. There’s be a lot of tips shared prior to these events, but I think these haven’t been covered nearly enough.
- Laptop Power cord
- Spare batteries
- USB charger ends
- VGA adapter/dongle
- Presentation clicker
- Presentation on thumb drive
- Compassion for those with difficulties
- Bravery to meet people in person
- Spirit to lift others up
- Daring to try something new
- Firmness to speak up
- Care for not insulting others
- Humility to ask real questions
- Talent to discourage Strutters
- Expertise to think of audience, not self
- Restraint not to sell from the podium
- Civility to be nice to everyone, not just the celebs
- Class not to spam the crowd
- Excellence to understand that not everyone speaks English well.
- Integrity to disclose your biases and affiliations
- Professionalism not to cuss
- Readiness to help others
- Genuineness to show your real self
- Trust that others want you to succeed
- Diligence to keep your promises
- Concern for others who have less experience than you
- Coolness to get through tough discussions
- Kindness for others
- Goofiness to have fun
- Self-discipline to take care of your body
- Prudence to take care of your mind
- Sincerity to admit your mistakes
- Preparedness for your presentation.
- Openness to constructive feedback
- Honesty to admit “I do not know”
- Expertise to answer questions
- Mindfulness to know when you are not helping
- Charity for others who disagree with you
- Expertise to know when to not try to answer questions
- Empathy for others
- Respect for self
- Wisdom to know that you can’t have self respect without empathy for others
- Forethought to pack well
- Vigilance to call out bullying and disrespect
- Courage to meet others who are different than you
- Strength to deal
- Moderation to get to tomorrow
- Stamina for long days
- Thankfulness for volunteers and staff
- Joy for cheering on others
What did I forget on this list?
Many Toronto User Group members will be attending the PASS Summit in November in Seattle Washington, including me. If you work with SQL Server, this is the only community-driven event for SQL Server training, presentations, workshops and networking.
Would you like to join us? Use our PASS Summit Discount code / Coupon / promo code:
You can register now at http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2014/RegisterNow.aspx and use the code to save $150 off full registrations. If you register before 27 June, you’ll get the best discount you can get right now and the Toronto User Group gets $50 to fund our meetings which start again in September. That’s right: you save some dough and our user group gets funding for our upcoming season that starts in September 2014.
If you can’t register now, no worries. You can still use our chapter code later.
Feel free to share this information with colleagues, even the discount code. The more the merrier. And the better you can love your SQL Server data.
Big data and NoSQL have led to big changes In the data environment, but are they all in the best interest of data? Are they technologies that "free us from the harsh limitations of relational databases?" as I recently blogged about at Dataversity.net?
In this month’s webinar (register now), we will be answering questions like these, plus:
- Have we managed to free organizations from having to do data modeling?
- Is there a need for a data modeler on NoSQL projects?
- If we build data models, which types will work?
- If we build data models, how will they be used?
- If we build data models, when will they be used?
- Who will use data models?
- Where does data quality happen?
- Are there NoSQL technologies for which data modeling will never apply?
Finally, we will wrap with 10 tips for data modelers in organizations incorporating NoSQL in their modern data architectures.
Join NoSQL expert extraordinaire Dan McCreary ( blog ) and others (including YOU!) as we talk about the future of data modeling and data modelers this Thursday, 26 June, at 2PM EDT.
We’ll also have some prizes to give a way, so plan on attending live.
(BTW, don’t get me started on the lame modeling styles/naming standards in stock photography. Maybe I should start making some for Getty Images?)
22 May 2014, 2PM EDT
It’s May, which sets this former Hoosier thinking of racetracks and Indy cars. I’m also a runner and that means I’m always thinking about pace and timings…and feeling guilty about not training hard enough.
This got me musing about how data modelers can speed up the data modeling process — not just during a development projects, but at all points in our work day. So let’s have a discussion about
In this month’s webinar, we’ll talk about:
- The Need for Speed
- Sprints, marathons and training
- Race cars, horses, carts, and feet
- Qualifiers and Races
- Pace cars
- Backseat drivers
- Rules, tickets and enforcement
- Fads, gadgets and automation
- Red, yellow, green and checkered flags
- How do you know when to stop racing?
Joining me in the discussion will be two wonderful panellists:
Donna Burbank, VP, Information Management Services at Enterprise Architects ( @donnaburbank )
Carol Lehn, MDM Database Designer at PepsiCo ( @lehnca )
And as usual, our attendees will have the opportunity to participate via chat and Q&A as our final panellist.
I have a great topic and panel for this month’s Big Challenges in Data Modeling webinar on Thursday, 24 April 2014, 2:00 PM EDT. It’s free, but you have to register to get the log in information.
Ethical Issues in Data Modeling
We’ll be talking about the nature of ethics, data and data modeling. I bet all of you have been placed in a tough situation before, either by other IT professionals or by business users who ask you to do something that you aren’t sure is ethical. Maybe it’s legal, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s about protecting data or data quality.
Some of the topics I hope we can discuss:
- What is the nature of ethics?
- How do ethics differ from morality? Legality?
- Can ethics be taught?
- Where does ego come into play here?
- What about Codes of Ethics and Codes of Conduct?
- Is there one right answer? Is there an always wrong answer?
- What’s the difference between a whistleblower and a tattletale?
- What tools do we have in making ethical decisions?
- How should we deal with unethical co-workers? Management? Customers?
- What does it all mean, anyway?
Ethical Situations in Data and Data Modeling
- If the answer is always “it depends”, what does it depend on?
- What if faster data means lesser data quality?
- Have you ever been asked to falsify a status report?
- Have you had to deal with someone else who provided incorrect information to a business user or management?
- Have you ever been asked to look the other way when security policies are being broken?
- Have you raised an issue of data protection that was ignored? Or minimalized?
- What about using production data for testing and development?
- What if the data is right, but the transformations or reporting is wrong?
- What if it’s intentionally wrong or misleading?
- Have you ever had to deal with someone else’s ego?
- Have you escalated an ethical issue? What about a legal one? A moral one?
- Do data modelers have distinct areas that we need to watch out for when it comes to ethics?
- Have you ever left a job or project due to ethical reasons?
YOU! Our webinars consider attendees as panelists. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, chat with other attendees and tell your own stories. You can even arrive early and stay late for our pre-show and after-show discussions.
Register now and bring your ethical questions and comments.
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