Speaker Feedback

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September 28, 2012 by Mike Hillwig

As someone who doesn’t do presentations professionally, I’ve come to really appreciate feedback from the people who do it for a living.

My first SQL Saturday wasn’t wildly successful. And Aaron Bertrand gave me some great feedback regarding my tone, tempo, and template. Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard feedback from Adam Machanic, Tom LaRock, Wendy Pastrick, and most recently from Grant Fritchey. I have to say that I really appreciate all of the advice I’ve been given. It’s really helped me grow as a speaker.

But what really counts is when someone fills out those little forms at SQL Saturday. To me, those are golden. When you fill those out, they often go right to the speakers. And you know something? I read every word people write. That is my one opportunity to really know how I’ve done.

That’s Reggie on the left and Ruby on the right. Photo courtesy Paul Jones at Rt 2 Photo

One of the things I’ve learned about myself from that feedback is that I’m at my best when I’m telling stories. Sure, I can do nose to the grindstone demos and technical details. But I do much better when I make that stuff relatable to what we do every day. Frequently, I’ll work pictures of my Pugs into a presentation. And there is a reason for that. They make things relatable. When I talk about Ruby barking at everything, I use that as an example in my alerting demo.  And when I tell the story of the guy trying to catch his flight or the guy getting caught with his pants down, those are things that make it interesting.

When you’re at any type of an event and you’re asked to complete a feedback form for the speaker, please don’t think it’s just some administrative detail for the event. Those are important to speakers.

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