Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to goto Tucson Arizona and present on some topics for their Virtual Conference occurring in April 22, 23 and 24. Back in December, Chris Shaw contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in speaking for their organizations virtual conference. I was humbled and surprised to be requested. I prepped a bunch of presentation ideas, abstracts, and submitted them to Chris. I had 7 accepted, 4 for the Virtual Conference, and the others for the ITUplink. So, for the past few months, I have been preparing presentations, practicing, adding demos, and trying to perfect them. It does seem that each time I look at a slide deck, I find a way to alter it, perfect it a bit more. At some point, I have too stop editing them, and simply give the presentation.
I had the chance to practice a couple of these on my User Group, and glad that I did. The more practice, the better. I worked out some kinks, and got further ready to present to the larger audience. Even though, while doing it, there is no audience. You have to imagine it. They will be there, but not when you are recording it. Practicing in front of an audience, large or small, really helps. But presenting to no one is useful too. I've presented a few times to a phone. Or a live meeting with no one talking to you or giving feedback. Each type of presentation is unique and rewarding in its own way. But each is very different.
Presenting for the SSWUG organization is in its own sphere, similar to the other ways described, but unique as well. Having to look into a camera, well, thats something that is not normal for the DBA. If anything, I am usually behind the camera in my personal life, taking pictures of my family. I rarely end up in front of the camera. And especially not in front of nice cameras like the ones at Bits on the Wire. And 3 of them. One on the right side, one on the left, and in the far left, another one that is stuck in the corner, and apparently black & white. While you are presenting, and trying to not lean on the table in front of you, and remember where you are supposed to stand, and the fact that you have no audience to give you feedback, you also have to remember which camera to look into. If you forget, the fine folks in the recording booth will flash a light on one of the cameras to remind you which one you should be looking into. In between the two color cameras, there is a screen with a clock. It lets you know how much time you have used. I would end up looking at it on occasion, and out of the corner of my eye, see a flashing blue light reminding me the camera to look at.
I should backup and describe my experience more fully, though not too detailed. Just the highlights. I chose to film on a Monday, so that I didnt eat into too much work time off. I had to fly out Sunday night to ensure that I reached Tucson to film on Monday. I got in late Sunday, went down the stairs of the airport, and was greated by a gentleman that gave me a ride to the hotel. I had secretly hoped I'd see my name on a paper, cause I've never had that happen to me yet. But a paper with Bits on the Wire was close enough. After getting into the hotel, I had some time to chill and get to sleep. Not terribly eventful. The next morning, I had the entire morning to do nothing, as I was to report to the studio around 1pm. Waking up late seems lie a luxury these days, and I took full advantage of that Monday morning. Waking up late, wondering downstairs to get a free breakfast, with no one telling me what to do, seemed like the most glorious of vacations. After eating, I returned to my hotel room and prepped my presentations. As I have mentioned earlier, I kept making more and more changes.
Before I knew it, it was time to shower, grab some food and then meet my ride to the offices. Once there, I was able to meet Stephen Wynkoop and the rest of the crew. Stephen even sat with me and interviewed me for a bit, making me feel like a celebrity he was excited to finally meet, just as I felt it was to meet him, finally. We had a great little discussion, followed by me jumping right into my presentations. After a quick practice start to ensure I knew which camera to look at (I would later forget), we jumped into the real presentations. The first one that I recorded was the most prepared and ready. This was planned by me, so that I could get an easy one under my belt, before struggling a bit on some parts of the other ones. One after another we cranked them out. In between I would grab my BlackBerry, send a quick tweet, and check for missed calls or emails. Just a quick glance, then back to the sessions and onto the next one. Before I knew it, I had finished 4 presentations, taking close to 5 hours of time. Whew. It was pretty intense, pretty enjoyable, pretty wild.
Once it was all over, a euphoria overcame me. I had one of those natural highs for a bit. I tried to sit back at the hotel, but became bored with TV. Hungry. Yeah, thats it. Venturing out into the outside world, I soon found food. At sometime afterwards, I started to come down from my natural high. Work crept into my world at this time, and I spent a few hours connected to work via VPN until it was bed time. Rising early the next day, I went to the airport earlier than i needed too, and awaited my flight. Once on the ground again in SLC, it was back to normal and back to work.
All the while, before, during and after, I tweeted my journey via Ping.fm. Posting went to Facebook as well as LinkedIn and Twitter. People in all those worlds were able to follow my progress and adventure, adding to my trip with their insights and suggestions. I love being alone, yet connected to so many people, all at the same time.
I hope that my sessions prove to be helpful for people, once they are released in the virtual conference. In the meantime, take a peek at what has been posted as a preview of one of my sessions.
I have a discount code for the SSWUG Virtual Conference. You can register for the conference here and make sure you use my code 'SPVTBESP09'.
More information here : http://tjaybelt.blogspot.com/2009/02/sswug-vip-code.html