The inaugural GroupBy.org online event finished recently, and I had the sublime pleasure of watching a bunch of presenters at work.
Because I was staffing the Q&A, Twitter, and Slack, I also got to watch the community reactions firsthand.
People love different sessions for different reasons.
Let’s start with Pinal Dave. He runs SQLauthority.com, a site that has surely shown up in your search results countless times. I bet you’ve never seen him present, and I need you to spend just a couple minutes watching him get to work. Start the video, and either watch a few minutes from the beginning, or jump forward anywhere in the session and watch for a little while:
Regardless of where you play the session at, you’re going to notice that Pinal has an incredible, lovable, enthusiastic style. He sucks you into what he’s presenting. If you watch the whole thing start to finish, I guarantee he’s going to fool you with mistake #3.
Now consider this: it was midnight local time for Pinal.
While I was watching Pinal at work, I thought, “If I was a company owner watching this, I’d hire Pinal to come in.” His style is just so infectious that you can’t help but smile, and you just know that working with him would be a fun experience.
Now let’s take Adam Machanic’s session on 2016 Hidden Gems. Let’s join at about 3 minutes in when he starts telling the story of past SQL Server versions:
(I apologize for the white box in the middle of the recording – that’s my bad.)
Within a matter of minutes, Adam has you sucked into a story. He starts zoomed way back out, thinking of entire version differences, and then zooms all the way into specific feature demos.
During the session, someone joked in Slack that they’ve never seen someone as interested in a demo as I was in one of them. I was leaned in, looking closely at the screen.
What Adam and Pinal Have in Common
It’s possible that you loved one of these sessions and hated the other.
It’s also possible that you loved both of them. (I certainly did.)
But I don’t think it’s possible that you hated both of them. They’re both examples of presenters who have found their own voice, and are perfectly comfortable delivering sessions in their own voice. Both of them make presenting seem completely natural to them, even though they’re totally different styles.
And that’s not all – if you watch all of the GroupBy sessions, you’ll notice a lot of different styles.
Authors read a lot of books to learn about different styles of writing, different approaches, voices. Actors watch plays and movies. Musicians listen to other musicians. Similarly, if you’re a presenter, you want to watch lots of other sessions to learn about different presenting styles that feel comfortable for you to adopt yourself.
Understand that there are two different questions:
- Do you like the style of the session, and
- Would the session’s voice work for your own delivery?
The answers can be different. You don’t have to exactly mimic Pinal or Adam or me or anybody else – just take the parts of their delivery that you love, and adopt parts of them. (This is why I even watch presentations outside of my industry – after all, there’s a whole world of presenters out there in different industries, and you can learn from them, too.)