At the end of last year I set an ambitious goal of speaking at all of upcoming SQL Saturday’s in the state of Florida in 2019. Orlando marks the 5th and final for this goal. As I look back on this goal I wanted to reflect on some lessons learned.
First, I can’t stress to myself and others how important an outline is when creating a presentation. Looking back at this year I thought that I had done a good job of this, but it became obvious after the first time I presented my material that I didn’t have my outline dialed in nearly well enough. For future presentations I’ll plan on spending a lot more time here before I even open PowerPoint.
Second, demo fails are a real thing. They happen to everyone, and I wanted to find a way to minimize this. When I presented the topic the first time I found that it was distracting for the audience flipping back and forth for each point to demo something. To mitigate this I discovered that I could record a section of my screen and embed this in PowerPoint. This was a lifesaver, I didn’t have to worry about exiting the presenter view and lose my flow. As a side bonus, with the kind of VMs that I needed to run I could build them in a powerful and responsive home lab but run the presentation on whatever hardware I wanted.
Third, don’t count on an interactive audience to make up time in your presentation. I found myself having two potential scenarios for the presentation. With an interactive group the same content could stretch to 75 minutes or longer. However, if I had a small group with limited questions I could breeze through the content in sometimes 30 or 40 minutes. Having a shift that was that large could mean the difference between ending very early, or running far over schedule. I still haven’t found a surefire solution to this, but I am trying to dial this in with time.
Last of all, work on the presentation on a periodic basis throughout the year. Practice it often as confidence and passion come across to the audience. This will also mean that there is less slide reading and more variation that comes with each session from questions or the vibe in the room.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone out in Orlando this year where I’ll be presenting my session “Look, over there, your permissions are showing!” where you can learn about effective permissions auditing techniques. I hope that you’ll walk away from this session with a better idea of how an attacker thinks about breaking in and some mitigation strategies. If you haven’t already registered for SQL Saturday Orlando, there is still time. Just head on over here and register for some free SQL Server training.