It has been exactly one year since I published a post on this blog. I never intended to let things go that long, but time has a way of slipping past, and things we planned on doing never happen.
In that one year’s time I have attended, if my count is correct, fourteen technical conferences, and I have spoken at thirteen of those events. Toward the end of that 12-month period, I was called on a number of times to speak more than once at an event, so I wound up presenting a total of 20 times.
I have been surprised at how much time can go into pulling together a presentation. Some topics I have chosen have been familiar, old friends to me — aspects of SQL Server with which I have many years of experience. Even with that kind of subject matter, I have found myself going into deep research mode, wanting to familiarize myself with the material at a far deeper level than I will be able to approach in the session itself.
I also chose a couple of topics where I knew relatively little of the subject matter going in. It is said that if you want to learn something well, one approach is to submit to speak on it. That is most certainly true. Here, even more so than with the familiar, comfortable material, I found myself often asking “what if someone asks about (fill in the blank).” It is easy to go deep down the rabbit hole of “what ifs” — the result being a lot of preparation and research.
The time required to put together a slide deck and demo scripts has been surprising to me as well, even after doing it several times. Even for a session that I have presented before, I always refine the session each time, often in non-trivial ways.
This past year has been exhausting. I haven’t kept track of how many hours I spent on presentations, but they have been considerable. I did keep track of the distance I drove to attend these 14 events, as I traveled by car to them all: 17,408 miles in all. It has been a lot of emotional investment. It’s time to slow down.
I say none of this by way of complaint. I have quite enjoyed all of it. At the same time, I am glad to be taking a break for a few months and to clear my head for a bit. And I am hoping to return to blogging. I have nothing specific in the wings at this point, though I do have a number of general ideas about what to write. In some ways, this post is my attempt to kick myself in the rear to get back at the blogging thing.
Yes, I intend to keep presenting, but not at the same pace. That said, even as I write this, I’m spending time putting together a new session that I’ll start submitting soon. One of my goals now is improve my presentation style, as I realize I can use quite a bit of work in that area.
Three years ago, I wasn’t even contemplating the idea of presenting technical content. The very notion of standing in front of roomful of strangers runs nearly 100% counter to my personality. It’s amazing to me how quickly I adapted. The first time I did it, I was absolutely terrified; the second time it scarcely bothered me.
I highly recommend speaking to everyone. I truly believe that every single person out there, no matter how much or little experience they have, has something to bring to table. Everyone can teach someone else something new.