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Jonathan has been working with SQL Server since 1999. He enjoys performance tuning, development and using SQL Server to provide appropriate business solutions. He is the founder and leader of the PASS SQL South West user group http://www.sqlsouthwest.co.uk , is a moderator at SQL Q + A forum ask.sqlservercentral.com and is on twitter at @fatherjack. He has spoken at SQLBits and SQL in the City, SQL Saturdays and local user groups across the UK and Europe.

From nowhere to somewhere in no time at all.

Published 7 February 2012 2:00 am

I am pleased to introduce another guest post from my wife, Annette (@mrs_fatherjack) (this also partially explains the cat picture).

2 years ago I’d never heard of SQL Bits, I wasn’t into ‘the community’ in any way and just plodded along doing what I did, probably not very well.  I was employed as a SQL Developer but in reality for the past few years my role had been primarily management with very little development.

Hiding cat by LebatihemI went to SQL Bits 6 (London) with my husband, Jonathan (@Fatherjack), not really knowing what to expect.  As someone who wasn’t using SQL that much a lot of the content went way over my head, but I did meet some really great people.

Then 12 months ago I changed job and got a role as a SQL Developer, at this point I decided that my skills needed a serious brush up.  Jonathan had just been to SQL Bits 7 in York and came back raving about how great it was, so when SQL Bits 8 (Brighton) came around I decided to go for it, firstly so I could get my learn on and secondly it was where I used to live so thought I could catch up with old friends.

We arrived in Brighton and the first thing that happened was that we were helping with the bag packing, a little daunting, but with the crowd of people there, a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  Already I was getting to meet lots of really interesting people which I would later find out would be really beneficial in my day job.  I didn’t attend the Thursday but turned up in the evening and got to meet more people.  People I felt I knew as I had been chatting to them regularly through the social networks, even if some of them didn’t look anything like their avatars!!  The next morning I woke up really excited to be going to my first experience of SQL Bits with a bit of understanding as to what to expect.  Jonathan dragged me there very early and when I got there I found the reason for this was because we were helping on the registration desk.  This is a really great way to meet people as you literally meet everyone!  After this I attended many sessions and learnt lots, probably much more than my poor little brain could handle.

The next morning we were back bright and early ready for the registration desk again, by now I knew what I was doing and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I was very disillusioned by the number of badges still waiting to be collected.  Apparently there is something like a 40% drop out rate on a Saturday which I think is utterly ridiculous.  If you register you should either attend or tell the organisers that you can’t attend.

Again I attended many sessions and learnt stacks.  I also witnessed my husband presenting for the first time ever and I thought he did really well, not that I’m biased you understand. I left SQL Bits 8 with the feeling that I couldn’t wait to get back, to meet more great people and learn loads and loads more.  The experience is indescribable.

A few months later Jonathan and I were looking at registering for SQL Bits 9 when a call comes from one of the SQLBits Committee members asking if we could help with the conference, essentially could we help organise the helpers.  Of course I jumped at the chance and the next thing I knew I was juggling the sessions and the helpers and making sure everything was covered.  Through the course of the weekend I met even more people, and as my confidence had increased so much through being involved with it I found it much easier to talk to people.  I looked at the people who were presenting the sessions with nothing short of god-like admiration and wondered how they must feel to be presenting at something this prestigious.  I vowed that one day, when I had more confidence I may give it a try.
Jonathan runs the SQL South West User group and recently we were short of a speaker so I stood in and presented a short slot on ‘introduction to SSIS’ which is something I have an interest in.  At the time I had also finished a massive project on reporting services at work and thought it was something that may be of interest as a lightening talk at SQL Bits X so I submitted a session.  As a LIGHTNING TALK.  In due course I got an email saying I wasn’t successful, unsurprisingly judging by the standard of the speakers.  I am scheduled to help again so wasn’t over worried that I wasn’t going to have my 5 minutes of fame.

Then, last week, I received an email saying, can you present your reporting session, of course I said thinking it’s only a Lightning Talk.  WRONG, I am now presenting a full session on my reporting project.
I look back now and think how did I go from nowhere to here in such a short space of time.  How I’m going to get on with my presentation is anyone’s guess and that’s something I’ll let you know about in around April!!


I’m going to be watching lots of the videos from previous SQL Bits sessions to get ideas on best practice presenting and finalising my presentation so that I can do the best job possible.  However, I have just received some advice that I think will become my mantra :
1. Slow down your delivery and
2. Don’t be scared. The majority of the audience wants you to succeed. Those who don’t just didn’t get a session picked.

Now all that’s left to say is if you see me at around 3.45 on Saturday 31st March don’t be surprised if I’m looking a little green and ever so slightly terrified.

We are presenting back to back sessions at SQLBits X the European Technical Launch of SQL Server 2012. There is still some room for new registrations but be quick. Did you know that the Saturday is a completely free community day? No? Well what is stopping you registering right now? Visit www.sqlbits.com and register now and come along. Who knows where you will be in 12 months time!

One Response to “From nowhere to somewhere in no time at all.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Annette
    Welcome to BIG scary world of conference presenting.. but as you have already tipped you toe in the water it seems… I know you will be excellent
    I heartily suggest a few dry runs with anyone willing (or unwilling even @ that) to sit through the rehearsals – and provide some honest feedback
    (you’ll feel more comfortable and the session will be smoother for it)
    Looking forward to seeing you again and to “keeping” all us volunteers in line
    Neil

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