3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting Remotely

3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting RemotelyTwo years ago I wrote about my experiences presenting a webinar for the first time. I learned a lot that day, and it helped me prepare for presenting remotely. But, a webinar is not the same as a remote presentation. And as much as you prepare and rehearse, you just won’t be prepared for every little thing that might happen until you’ve experienced them. So in addition to the advice I shared in my other blog post, here are 3 of my mistakes you don’t want to make if you’re planning to start presenting remotely :)

I didn’t ask the organizers enough questions before I started presenting

How many people are attending? What does the room look like? Is the screen large or small? Are people sitting close to the screen or in the back of the room? Can you see my webcam? Where is my webcam placed on the screen that the attendees see? Will I see your webcam?

I should have asked the organizers to spend 5-10 minutes with me before the session started so I could get a better idea of who I was presenting for and what they would see. When presenting live, I walk to the back of the room to check how much I need to zoom in during demos. I can see what everyone else sees on the screen. I can adjust to different room layouts. When presenting a webinar, I know that everyone will see the same as me on their own screens. I can watch my own webinar on a second screen so I can adjust to the lag. When presenting remotely, I don’t know anything about what the attendees see unless I ask. Maybe my webcam covered parts of my demo? Maybe I clicked too fast through my slides? I don’t know, but I should have known.

I didn’t test running all my software at the same time

We did a test call and Skype, my camera and my microphone all worked. But generating SSIS packages from Biml in Visual Studio at the same time as sharing my webcam plus my sound plus my screen? Uh, yeah, that didn’t really go too well on my old and tired laptop. Demos that usually take 2-3 seconds ran for nearly 30 seconds. Demos that usually take 30 seconds (and make my Visual Studio stop responding just long enough for me to grab a sip of water and joke about it) ran for several minutes. It felt like an hour. I don’t have that many jokes! I ran short on time because of this.

Waiting... Waiting... Still waiting...

I should have tested more before starting my presentation. While asking the organizers questions before the meeting (see previous point), I should also have asked them to do a quick dry run with me. They could have given me feedback on the most important part of my demos: Was everything visible from the back of the room? Is the call quality good enough to present in regular speed, or do I need to slow down more? And most importantly – does everything actually work with all the software I’m running at the same time?

I stared at my microphone while presenting

I used a Jabra speakerphone, that flat, round gadget that looks like a hockey puck. It was next to my keyboard, and I kept staring at it all through my presentation. Because, you know, all the attendees were sitting inside it, and I was presenting for them :)

I should have looked more into the camera. I didn’t, I looked at where the sound came from. I also leaned down several times to hear questions better, which must have looked rather funny. I’ve only presented with headphones in the past, so this was a new experience for me. I should have rehearsed more with this camera and microphone setup to get used to where to look and what gestures to make.

I made these mistakes so you won’t have to!

Well, ok, I didn’t do it on purpose ;) But I do hope you can learn something from my mistakes, so you will become a way better remote speaker than me! I also hope you can learn something from my previous experiences. What advice would you give to new speakers who are presenting remotely?

Presenting a Webinar for the Women in Technology Virtual Chapter

PASS Women in Technology Virtual ChapterYay! On Tuesday, April 12th, I will present my Tools and Tips: From Accidental to Efficient Data Warehouse Developer session for the PASS Women in Technology Virtual Chapter. The webinar starts at 12:00 EDT / 18:00 CEST and you can register for it here :)

Tools and Tips: From Accidental to Efficient Data Warehouse Developer

This session is a journey through some of my “Oh wow! Why did I not know this yesterday!?” moments. (Some of them are also known as my “Ooops!” moments.) I will talk about a variety of topics, including SSMS features, tools for query analysis and tuning, free tools and scripts, Biml for SSIS and even a couple of things I used to think were only useful for those scary DBAs. There was a time when these things were completely unknown to me, and I hope that I can help other accidental Data Warehouse developers so they won’t have to spend years discovering these things one by one.

This is the first time I’m presenting this session as a webinar, so I’m currently tweaking my slide deck while re-reading my own lessons learned about presenting webinars. I usually have a rather fast-paced presentation style, but that just doesn’t work as well in a webinar with lag. I also want to make sure that everything is easy to understand without me having to explain it with gestures.

(I will still be sitting alone in a room, gesturing wildly to my computer, but I promise to make my slide deck as informative as possible as well ;) )

My session is definitely not only for women, so why am I presenting for the Women in Technology Virtual Chapter?

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Speaking at 24 Hours of PASS: Growing Our Community

I'm speaking at 24 Hours of PASS: Growing Our Community24 Hours of PASS (@pass24hop) is back! From June 24th 12:00 GMT to June 25th 12:00 GMT you can watch 24 free webinars back-to-back. Check out the great schedule and register today!

I’m super happy and excited to have been selected as a speaker at this edition of 24 Hours of PASS. The theme for this event is Growing Our Community. They only accepted abstracts from speakers who have not yet spoken at PASS Summit to give us the opportunity to gain experience and share our knowledge outside our local communities. I love this idea, and I’m so happy to see good friends and talented up-and-coming speakers selected :D

My session is called Don’t Repeat Yourself – An Introduction to Agile SSIS Development. It is based on my introduction to Biml session and I will reuse a lot of that content, but I have tweaked and expanded and changed a few things so it’s no longer just about the Biml language. Hopefully it can inspire those who are still developing SSIS in the traditional way to try a new approach to automating their development and work more efficiently :)

Presenting a webinar for the first time

Cathrine Wilhelmsen First WebinarPresenting online is a completely different experience than presenting in-person. When you present online you lose the interaction with the audience, you are unable to read body language or facial expressions to see if they are interested or bored out of their minds, and you get absolutely no feedback on whether or not they understand what you are trying to explain. You have to trust yourself, talk to a screen for an hour, and hope that the technology does not suddenly decide to throw a tantrum and stop working for no reason.

I recently presented my first ever webinar. It went quite well, but there are many things I want to do better next time. Writing down what I learned will help me improve my own presentation skills and slide decks, but I also hope it can help other new speakers prepare for their first webinar. Please feel free to share your own tips and tricks, I would love to learn from you! :)

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Table Partitioning Webinar for Pragmatic Works

Pragmatic WorksPragmatic Works hosts and records free webinars every Tuesday and Thursday, called Free Training on the T’s. In March 2015 they wanted to highlight Women in Tech (WIT) by hosting nine webinars with speakers from the SQL Server community. I was very honored and excited to be invited, and a little nervous since it was my first ever webinar.

The recording of my webinar Table Partitioning in SQL Server: A Magic Solution for Better Performance? is now available, and the slide deck is available on my SlideShare:

The introduction was not included in the recording, but it can be summed up as “thank you to Pragmatic Works for supporting WIT, thank you for attending my webinar, my name is Cathrine and this is an introduction to table partitioning” :) There were some technical issues so the sound is missing for about a minute in the middle of the webinar, and I couldn’t see any questions in the chat. To all of you who asked questions, I’m sorry for not answering during the webinar, but I have now received the transcript and will answer your questions in upcoming blog posts.

Upcoming blog posts
Ed Leighton-Dick (@eleightondick) recently announced a #SQLNewBlogger challenge where those who participate will write one blog post every week in April. I have decided to participate in this challenge, and I encourage everyone else to do the same! :) I got a lot of great questions during my webinar that I want to answer in more detail with scripts, step-by-step instructions and pictures, so I have picked Table Partitioning as my topic for the challenge. You can find all the blog posts in the Table Partitioning in SQL Server Archive, and check back every week in April if you want to learn more about Table Partitioning basics! :)

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