What I have learnt as a new Speaker

Various items I have learnt whilst starting as a new presenter (SQL Server+Informix events), also helps me to organise what I have learnt and give back to the community.

My collection of links on speaking

– Session abstract is very important (and helps keep people OUT of the room who should not be there!)

Good article here on session abstracts


Good article here on conference presentations


Public speaking – the small things *** Good guide for preparing for the speaking event ***


Items I learnt preparing to speak at an event


How to Rehearse a Presentation


How To Speak At SQL Saturday Events


Organised speaking – improving font sizes


8 New Rules Of Public Speaking


  • Record the event
  • Speak like you sing – project!
  • Scrap usless visuals
  • Test your jokes beforehand
  • Pretend you are chatting with friends
  • Arrive at the venue early
  • Keep ahead of change

How to Be a Great Speaker


What to do what if all goes wrong

Breathe! Also read https://www.cathrinewilhelmsen.net/2018/01/19/dealing-with-disappointment-and-learning-from-failures/ when an established speaker had a precon full day cancelled and later on had NO-ONE turn up to a session, both at the same event! Yes it happens…learn from how Cathrine dealt with it and be ready for it.

My preparation for starting as a speaker

– Got a decent laptop, I bought a Acer Aspire E5-571 15.6 Inch, it was on discount and had a good spec (almost perfect spec)

* Intel i5 2.6Ghz Quad Core – Quad Core for the price was excellent

* 8GB RAM (I would like 16 or even 32) to run multiple VMS

* 15.6 inch display (17 inch I felt would be too big to cart around the country on public transport)

* I swapped out the hard disk with a Flash Drive

* 3 USB Ports

* I swapped out the DVD drive with a 2nd Flash Drive and got a USB case for the DVD Drive which runs off 2 USB Ports

DVD Drives need more than 1 port to get enough power to spin up,with 3 USB Port I can have the DVD Drive in for

installs and still use the mouse for installs. The laptop is now all flash drives so now no worry about hard disk delays in a


* This has HDMI as well as VGA out (more on that later)

* After someone on a previous training course I attending mentioned how cool VMWare Workstation is I treated myself.

Nice to be able to learn VMWare as well as HyperV.With VMWare Workstation + all flash drives I can clone a VM and get SQL Server installed in minutes

* Keep backups, I use 2 external Toshiba USB 3.0 hard drives something similar to http://www.toshiba.eu/hard-drives/portable/canvio-slim/ They are tiny and whilst mine are 750GB, 1TB drives are now available. Windows 8 is the first Microsoft OS which supports USB for Storage Spaces. With Storage Spaces just create a pool, add drives, create a volume and specify how much reduncancy you want. If I need to add/remove drives in the future I just add/remove them to the pool and do not need to worry about distributing the data across drives.

* Added Sept 2015 – carry 2 laptops. Also a USB 3 thumb drive with Windows To Go (thanks – Thomas Sykes!).

Finding events to speak at

For me it started with an event where Rob Sewell asked for new speakers, saying the community always encourages new speakers.

I started at the SQL Server Saturday in Exeter, found out about SQL Saturdays https://www.sqlsaturday.com/

Then I was told about sqlpass http://www.sqlpass.org and also http://sqlserverfaq.com/ for local events.

Write an abstact and submit a session.

Prepare for speaking session

You know the topic, you have the abstract, you may even have submitted and been chosen, how to you prepare a talk?

– Get the deck together – from one feedback I got, syntax belongs in demos not on the slides!

– Prepare any demos, if you have time record them as a video (Like personal backups, we all know we should do them – not everyone makes the time to do them).

– Keep a VM with a fresh OS install so you can quickly clone it and drop SQL Server on it if there is an issue (thanks to Mark Broadbent for that tip!)

– Test, test, test your presentation/demos, the night before and the morning before (again a good top from Mark Broadbent)  At events I try to limit my time with speakers who have their head in a tablet/laptop, they are rechecking their talk and I find just I quick “Hi, good luck, chat later” is enough to let them know you are at the event and you want to talk to them.

– Keep the presentation on a USB Drive, if your laptop dies just before you go on hopefully some can lend you a laptop and  even with no demos you can at least talk though and around the slides.

– Also try to put the slide deck on the web, Some people want to view the sllide deck ahead of time to see if they want to attend or like being prepared for what will come. This also means you do not need people to need to trust your foreign USB stick. Still have the USB Stick in case the net is not reachable on the day, belt and braces!

– Check what time your are on and plan your journey, for me I usually allow an extra 1 hour for london even though my journey time is normally only 1-1.5 hrs.

– Even for just attending events I also use Google Streetview to work out how to walk the last part to the event and where the entrance is for the event. I have even been known to phone the organisers whilst in front of Google Streeview “Oh THAT unlabelled brown door to the left of Starbucks”! I used to travel around the country a lot and getting within 200 yards is easy, find the entrance can sometimes be the hardest part of the journey!

– See if the organizer of the event

, if they are at a prior event make a point of introducing yourself.

On the day (preparing to leave home)

– Test everything again, make sure all demos are reset – now is not the time to reinstall anything though!

– Get to the event early but do get enough sleep!

– Do not forget your mouse, using keyboard only is painful.

– When packing I use my trusty rucksack (tip When purchasing your laptop check your laptop etc fits and is easy to get in/out – at airports security these days you need to take out your laptop  and I have been asked to remove chargers, mobile phone etc as well, you do not want to be struggling to get it all back in your rucksack!).

–  I put all paperwork in 1 document wallet (you can get these from e.g. staples) in my rucksack. This goes behind my laptop with chargers, mouse etc in front of the laptop. That way I can slide just the document wallet in/out easily.

– Pack for the event with laptop, USB Drive with slide deck, mouse, phone, phone charger, laptop charger, any security dongles,clicker/pointer (+ spare batteries). For events where  I am away for several days I also take my external hard drives will all my software on it so I can rebuild everything if needed.

– I normally email the organiser to say I am on my way and give them an ETA so they do not worry you forgot/overslept!

– Write down and take with you, the address of the event, who the main organiser for the event will be and their mobile number. If your travel plans fail (and even if your phone runs out of charge) you can still phone the organizer even from a phone box to let them know what is happening.

On the day (event arrival)

– Email the organisers shortly before you arrive to let them know you will be there soon.

– At the registration desk let them know your are a speaker so they can funnel you off over to the speaker room (if there is one) and get you in touch with the event organiser so they know you are there. If you are a new speaker let the registration desk, helpers, others in the speaker room know and remind the organiser.

– For larger events e.g. SQL Saturday, SQLBits find out who the room monitor is. The main event organiser is zooming around making sure rooms,refreshment and even toilets are ok, signs are in place (especially if the hotel does not want certain doors used), making sure speakers to the correct rooom on time. I direct your questions to the room monitor first, then other helpers, if no-one is available and your question cannot wait I go to friends, the reception desk and as a final resort the event organiser.

– Ask who can help you with the AV (Audio/.Video) in the room, I let them worry about making sure they can get my laptop appearing on the screens in the room. Having a laptop which can do both VGA and HDMI has saved me in the past. In practive getting a display had been the hardest part when in the room but do not worry that is the AV persons job!

– Next find the location of the bathroom,drinks and the room is you where you will be speaking. Some places can have quite a walk to the room where you are speaking.

– For large rooms ask if you will be using a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavalier_microphone (mic’ed up with lapel mic). These clip on clothing in the middle at the front about 6-8 inches from your mouth, I tuck the pack in my front jeans pocket. If you have not used one before let the room monitor know and they can help with positioning the mic. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/hints-for-speaking-into-a-microphone.html

– Do not speak into a lavalier/lapel mic, talk (normally!) across the top of it, air is meant to blow across it. I try to talk normally and not put my head down when talking, keep your head up and face the audience!

– For a lavalier/lapel mic, find the on/off and mute buttons! When you are done, take if off and hand to room monitor, get away from the mic before you say another word. As per the link above “Speakers have occasionally been highly embarrassed by making an intimate comment off the cuff with the mike still on, and being heard by everyone present!”

– If possible, watch another speaker in the room where you will be presenting and adjust yourself accordingly

Room setup (The room is yours, this is where it gets real!)

– Get to the room and get setup EARLY

– I duplicate my laptop onto the main screens and make sure my presentation and demos are visible.

– Turn off or mute your phone

– Plug in your laptop charger

– Turn off Windows Notifications, Start – search for notification

– Turn off services “Windows module installer” and “Windows update

– In windows update settings change to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them

– Hide desktop icons Right Click, View,Show desktop icons

– NOTE the display on the screen behind you may not line up with what you see the laptop screen!

– When I was at SQL Relay London there was a screen in the lecturn with a timer on it as well.

– Be able to check how long you have left to speak. For smaller events I use my phone om the desk/lecturn, for larger events the room monitor can help, I ask for a countdown, 30/15/10/5 minutes, get off stage

–  Consider taking some “throat coat” tea, apparently people who use their voice a lot e.g. speakers/opera singers have used this in the past when using their voice a lot.

Get comfortable in the room (With practice this can be done in a couple of minutes)

– Work out how you will switch betwen the slide deck and demo screens, avoid dragging windows around during the demo and practice.

– Several people recommended using ZoomIt to be able to zoom in so people can see things like row counts from query results at the back of the room, practice that in the room as well.

– After the first time I spoke (which was at SQL Saturday Exeter) the next speaker in the room was Hugo Kornelis. I saw the technique Hugo used on that day which I also prefer, if possible sit down facing the audience, 1 hour on your feet and be tiring if you are not used to it. You can still get up and point something out on the screen as well although avoid turning your back fully on the audience!

– Work out where your support network are and where they will be sitting, if the audience look unhappy focus on the room monitor and your buddies in the room who (should be smiling and nodding). When I am in the audience for a new speaker I try to sit at the front and if they appear to waver then nod, smile and indicate they should keep going – support others!

– I ask for a drink of still water and sip it, you are talking for a whole hour and I gives you a pause to think.

– If you want to use a clicker/pointer now is a good time to have a quick practice in the room and make sure the batteries work.

Actually speaking

– Start with the front slide with the session title, leave it up if the room takes time to fill, people can see if they are in the right room or not!

– Second slide, introduce yourself, mentions event organizers, speakers,helpers,sponsors.

– I usually ask someone to take a note of the questions asked or write them down in a notebook.

– Talk slow and take it slower when introducing the topic as most of the audience do not know the topic except you

– As Grant Finchley/Steve Jones once said to me when I was having issues my first time being mic’ed up, project your voice, I still don’t think the mic worked but the whole room certainly heard me!

– Introduce yourself,your name and explain your experience. The few times I spoke I said I was a new speaker to set people expections and show that the community encourages and supports new speakers.

– Talk around the slides, unleash your knowledge and enthusiasm! Move around and wave your hands a bit to show you are still alive, do not be a monotone motionless speaker. Try to look at all the audience at least once and only remember the happy faces!

– Tell the audience what you are about to tell them,then tell then, then summarise what you told them. For intro sessions I like to explain the components/naming first and show how they fit together.

– As one of the main keynotes speaker at IDUG Prague http://www.idug.org/p/cm/ld/fid=544 Casper Berry said. Relevant,Interestng,Entertaining. Being entertaining and capable of telling jokes as well (which may not get a laugh)  takes experience.

– Ask the audience questions, do you use this? do you have questions about this? issue with this you would like to talk to me about afterwards? Be prepared for silence in reply!

– If you are asked a question, then repeat the question. Especially important if the session is recorded as the recording will not pickup the person from the audience but will from your mic, so get in the habit of repeating questions you are asked.

– Do not talk too fast and finish too early, one of the most rated speakers i know talks more slowly then I could and gets really good feedback consistently. Do not worry about running out of time,it is easier to skip some demos or skip some less important slides then to fill time if you finish way too early.

– If there are issues with your demo setup you can leave the demos to the end.

– I end with thanks to the organisers and an offer to be available afterwards for longer questions or if people want help with something related to the topic they are stuck on.

After speaking

– {Pickup your laptop charger!

– You will think of things you could have done better, ask other speakers who are free how they would have handled it.

At larger events i normally plan to miss the next session as I want time to think about how things went and plan any slide decks changes that would make a better talk. Once you have a plan for any improvements need then realize the time for negative thoughts about how it went is over, you have a positive plan now, no more worrying is needed. You can have another planning session another day, enjoy the rest of the day!

– Get your mind off how it went by talking to someone else, getting a drink or snack.

– If there is a speaker room you can go chill in it until the next session starts, do not disturb other speakers who are preparing though.

Enjoy the rest of the day!


27th January 2015 Cardiff SQL Server User Group

Replication Intro – followup questions:

1. How to setup cross domain replication

I found this KB article

HOW TO: Replicate Between Computers Running SQL Server in Non-Trusted Domains or Across the Internet


SQL Server 2014 CU6 is out

SQL Server 2014 CU6 is out http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlreleaseservices/archive/2015/02/17/cumulative-update-6-for-sql-server-2014-rtm.aspx

FIX: Sequence object generates duplicate sequence values when SQL Server 2012 or SQL Server 2014 is under memory pressure


FIX: Duplicate sequence value is generated when you run sp_sequence_get_range in parallel with NEXT VALUE FOR function


FIX: The transaction isolation level is reset incorrectly when the SQL Server connection is released in SQL Server 2014


FIX: Access violation occurs when you delete rows from a table that has clustered columnstore index in SQL Server 2014


FIX: OS error 665 when you execute DBCC CHECKDB command for database that contains columnstore index in SQL Server 2014


FIX: Incorrect data returned when you use DATE data type as a qualifier in a  query with a clustered columnstore store index in SQL Server 2014


FIX: Memory leak occurs when you run DBCC CHECKDB against a database in SQL Server 2014


FIX: The value of statement_start_offset column is incorrect in DMV sys.dm_exec_requests in SQL Server 2014


SAP Sybase ASE Rolling Cluster Upgrades and Targeted CR List for ASE 16.0 SP01

Found on http://scn.sap.com/community/ase-custom-applications

1. Sybase SAP ASE Cluster Edition Rolling Upgrades – available in ASE 15.7 CE SP132.

Patches will be marked as to whether or not they support rolling upgrades.

NOTE: “cluster nodes must be using a private install of the ASE binaries vs. using a single shared cluster file system implementation”


2. Targeted CR List for ASE 16.0 SP01 is out:


3. SAP ASE Edge Edition for Small and Medium Businesses – physical/virtual machines with 4 cores or less, number of sockets has no effect.


Born to Learn Updates including 2nd Shot, Updated Certification Roadmap and MCP Book Discounts

There is a new Microsoft certification roadmap


MCP Book Discounts


Second Shot is back