Dipping into the Cookie Jar


This post is a response to this month's T-SQL Tuesday #112 prompt by Shane O'Neill.  T-SQL Tuesday is a way for the SQL Server community to share ideas about different database and professional topics every month. In this month's topic Shane asks us to describe past accomplishments that help keep us going.

Before the start of each presentation I give, I'm a nervous wreck.

It's not that I don't like presenting (I do) but in the minutes before my presentation start time I'm always filled with dread . Once I start my talk and am in the flow of my content the nerves usually subside. Those first few minutes are always rough though.

Before speaking I try to calm myself by going through a few various techniques, one of which is thinking about previous successful speaking engagements.

You've Done This Before

I rarely focus on a single past speaking engagement; rather I look at all of my appearances and pick one that best helps for the current situation.

Every presentation I give has some kind of new elements associated with it; some of these might be environmental like a bigger audience or a strange room setup, but others are self-imposed like wanting to try out a new story-telling technique or an interactive audience exercise.

At this point, I usually have enough previous speaking experiences to try and rationalize away any stressful thoughts:

  • "Speaking is scary." - You've done it before, you can do it again.
  • "This is a big audience." - Your online audiences have definitely been bigger.
  • "This joke will bomb." - You won't know until you try. And your past session reviews indicate that people think you are funny.
  • etc...

The great thing here is that I'm always able to find a way to rationalize some successful past experience as having been comparable or more difficult than the current scenario. Even when I only had a couple of speaking sessions under my belt, I could think back to when I successfully taught my coworkers something, or had to teach my family members how to do something technical.

100% Survival Rate

I still get nervous before speaking, but at least I can also remind myself that I've survived every previous time I've done it.

I'm not sure my nervousness will ever go away, but having past successes to think back on always helps quiet those nerves just a little bit.