Before I did a lot of speaking, I assumed there were two types of speakers.
One group just loved volunteering to help people.
The other group was a bunch of money-hungry people that wanted to talk attendees out of their wallets.
Now that I do a lot more speaking, I don’t just assume that this is true – I am convinced it’s true. For example, I accidentally sat in a vendor session at SQLSaturday Chicago, and I was flabbergasted by the blatant advertising – frankly, hucksterism – coming from the podium. The abstract sweet talked attendees in with the promise of explaining a new SQL Server feature, but the speaker spent most of the allotted time talking about how a completely different feature was faster using their hardware.
You would think that with me being a consultant, I’d be one of the ones talking you out of your money. To some extent, that’s kinda true, too – after all, I make a living selling training and consulting services. But to me – at least, reading my own decks – it feels like I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m up on the podium explaining how you can usually get away with basic best practices and free scripts. I link to our free blog posts and webcasts.
But no, I’m in the volunteer group.
I’m just addicted to the thrill of seeing people get it.
Seriously, there’s nothing better than the thrill of crafting an abstract that gets the right person into the session by telling them what they don’t know yet, then explaining it to them in an elegantly clear way, and seeing them walk out the door energized to go fix a problem back at the office.
Sure, I can get some of that thrill at paid conferences, but I can’t just show up once a year and lay down a killer session. I have to keep introducing new material, honing it, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve blogged about why national conferences should require local feedback for all speakers, and I’m still a huge believer in that. If you’re not proving your material locally, you shouldn’t be giving it nationally.
My time spent attending sessions at SQLSaturday Lisbon, Madison, and Chicago this past month reinforced my belief. There’s so many really passionate speakers trying hard to make a difference, practicing their skills at the local level, building up a good presentation that would impress national audiences.
And I’m driven – more than I can even explain – to keep driving away the crappy vendor sessions by bringing the best free training I possibly can to free events like SQLSaturday. I know there’s a huge population of folks out there who can’t afford to go to big national conferences or training classes yet, and I’m not there to sell them paid training. I know I can’t get blood from that turnip. I’m just there to have a really good time by seeing people get it.
And I hope you will too. Become a presenter, change your life.