Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why Speak at a User Group?

This post was going to be a plea for volunteers to speak at my local SQL Server User Group (OPASS), and, in reality, it still is, but as I began writing I thought I would share some reasons why I think you should consider speaking at a User Group, hopefully OPASS and why I did.

  1. Share your passion.  People will listen to anyone speak on any topic if they can tell the speaker is passionate about it.
  2. Become an expert.  There is no better way to become an expert than to teach someone else.  I spoke last year on SQL Profiler, which I thought I knew, until I prepared for my presentation.  Now I am an expert, but one who knows there is more to learn.
  3. Build your brand.  Steve Jones writes and speaks about this.  By speaking, you build your professional profile.  If you are willing to share your knowledge with “strangers” this can set you apart in your next job search.  Being a team player and a good communicator comes up in almost every job posting and interview, if you speak publicly you’ll have evidence to support your claims.
  4. Contacts, contacts, contacts.  In real estate they say it’s all about location, in the business world it’s all about contacts.  Not just for job searches, but for people you can contact for help on that issue you just can’t solve.  You may become that person for some, but you’ll also gain people who will be that person for you.
  5. Personal growth.  Public speaking is scary, but very satisfying, and you know what, everyone wants you to succeed, so our fears are usually unfounded.  Once you get started you’ll be more confident.
  6. Respect of your peers.  Don’t we all want that?  There is nothing I respect more than someone willing to take a chance.  No matter what people think about the presentation, they will respect you for daring to do it.

I have to be honest, I have only spoken twice on SQL Server (same presentation) and I was very nervous both times, but once I got started it just flowed and was over before I knew it.  Both times there were questions I couldn’t answer, but no one was upset by that because I didn’t bluff, I just admitted it.  As I said earlier, the audience wants you to do well, so relax and go for it.

If anyone is interested in volunteering to speak at OPASS, we do need a speaker for our next meeting which is in May, and to the best of my knowledge the rest of the year, you can contact me at and I’ll pass along your information to our president, Andy Warren.  We usually meet on every other month on the 2nd Tuesday, but we can be flexible with advanced notice, so if you are going to be in the Orlando area at another time and want to speak let me know and we’ll try to arrange it.


  1. Too far for me to travel, but otherwise, absolutely.

    And I agree with your points. Check out:


  2. Thanks for the comment Rob. I also had a post on that "thread". One of the most commonly mentioned things is involvement in the community. You don't see the value in something until you actually use it.


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