Last night I attended the NxtGenUG meeting in Cambridge for my first time to see Peter Marriott blog|twitter give his presentation Guerrilla tactics – Performance Testing MS SQL Server Applications and I very much enjoyed myself. I also expected to bump into Guy Smith Ferrier blog|twitter but sadly he could not make it and was called at short notice to present in Birmingham. Both presenters I had previously met during my recent visit to Microsoft in Reading and was very much looking forward to this event.
When presenting SQL Server content aimed to a mostly non-SQL DBA audience (in this case developers) it is always a difficult thing to do when you might also have a few DBAs present (such as myself). The problem is essentially providing content that will be understood and relevant to the developer, but still providing content that will be either new or good refresher information for the DBA.
Presentation tip: Target your content for your audience, and teach them something new
I think Peter got this balance exactly right, I had a few ideas from the presentation for things to look into and I sincerely look forward at some point in the future to seeing this presentation aimed purely for the DBA; deep dive style (if you will). Some of my collegues (dotnet developers) learnt some useful stuff and are already thinking about getting their grubby little paws on my SQL Servers for analysis. Seriously guys you need to buy me a few drinks first 🙂 .
Presentation tip: Leave them wanting more
One thing I find myself doing now is analysing the style of the presenter, not just the content that is being delivered. There is a lot of things you can learn from doing this and use it to your advantage to improve your own presentation skills. It is easier as a member of the audience to appreciate what you liked or disliked about the delivery and make a mental note of these things. Being able to adopt these things within your own delivery is very very difficult and can feel very unnatural since you have developed your own “style” over the course of your life and breaking bad habits is hard. However the more you pratice the more you can make a difference.
So what of Peter’s delivery? I found Peter to be a very natural speaker, very clear, fluent and engaging. The presentation demos themselves elaborated further upon what was being discussed -in other words rubber stamped the discussion.
Presentation tip: Ensure your demos serve a purpose
Particulary impressive was when the Activity Monitor decided to throw a wobbly and not do what it should (displaying stats). Rather than get flustered, Peter calmly turned this into a “thing to watch out for”. He stated that sometimes load can be so great that even the monitoring tools will struggle, and true to form moments later an error message gave confirmation of this.
Presentation tip: If something goes wrong with your demos, don’t panic
So next time you are passing through Cambridge and happen to notice that there is a NxtGenUG meeting, I thoroughly recommend you paying a visit. Should you happen to see Peter presenting elsewhere and you want an informative and enjoyable session then make sure you drop in and don’t forget to say hello.