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  • landrews5807

So, you want to be the next great speaker? #NewStarNovember


In the summer of 2017, I mentioned to my boss that since attending my first SQL Saturday, #183 Albuquerque, in 2013, I had wanted to attend PASS Summit and he said to send him the info and he would see what he could do. Fast forward a few weeks and he told me it had been approved and I could attend the conference, get the hotel package, and have the week off for professional development. My life was about to be changed forever.

Flashback - June 2015 SQL Saturday #415

I had developed a presentation on normalization called 'Why be Normal' and was super excited when it was selected for the Colorado Springs SQL Saturday. I was in the 2:30 - 3:30 pm slot and I think there were three people in the room besides me, Leslie Weed who was presenting in the room after me, my dad who happened to be traveling through Colorado Springs that week and came to see me present, and one attendee. It was mortifying and I never wanted to do it again...but I secretly still wanted to be a speaker.

Summit 2017

The life changing session I attended while at Summit in 2017 was presented by Eddie Wuerch called "Be the Next Great Speaker: The Complete Speaker Starter Kit". He talked about how to write an abstract, the description, how to write them so the selection committee and potential attendees could see the benefits of attending the session. The session was on Friday morning at Summit, and it was a packed session in a big room! While I was sitting there in the session, I thought to myself that there had to be a technical police conference (at the time I worked for the Albuquerque Police Department), so I googled it. Yes! It's called the International Association of Chief's of Police (IACP) Technology Conference and the call for speakers closed the next Friday!

After I returned home from Summit, I spent that week coming up with the abstract and description for a session about the data warehouse I had built for the Police Department for reporting. I called the session "The Power of Data: The Complete Beginners Data Warehouse Kit" (any resemblance to Eddie's session title is purely intentional) and I submitted it. In January 2018, I received an email that my session had been selected and I started to panic!

Speaking - Take Two

I remembered how horrible that session had been at the Colorado Springs SQL Saturday in 2015 and I was determined that would not be how this session turned out. I had until May to practice and polish the presentation.

One of the things that I learned from that first session in 2015 was that no matter how many times I rehearsed in my head, it was not the same as actually saying it out loud! So, I practiced out loud with the cats in attendance. The second thing I decided I needed to do was practice in front of real people. So, I found all the SQL Saturdays near me and submitted my session and in March spoke at Phoenix and Colorado Springs. These were much better sessions. There were actually people in attendance, I had practiced with the cats, and I was able to tweak my session and make it better.

The conference was in Providence, Rhode Island at the Rhode Island Conference Center. It was beautiful at that time of year, May 2018! There was a great turnout for my session and I left feeling very happy with the results!!


After the IACP conference, I decided that I should keep on presenting! I expanded to other parts of the country: Louisville, Baton Rouge, Sioux Falls, Denver, and Atlanta. I wasn't able to get the City of Albuquerque to cover a second PASS Summit for 2018 but decided that if they weren't willing to invest in me, I WAS!

At that second PASS Summit in 2018, I decided to participate in Speaker Idol! Hardest session I have ever done! Totally recommend doing it! I won my heat but lost to Rob Volk in the finals. At Summit 2018, it was also announced that I was selected as an Idera ACE for 2019 along with an amazing line up of other speakers: Ginger Grant, Matt Gordon, Eric Blinn, Elizabeth Noble, Angela Tidwell, Samir Behara, Mitchell Bottel, and Mohammad Darab.

I was able to attend ten SQL Saturdays in 2019: Cleveland, Boston, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Louisville, San Diego, and Charlotte. I presented a pre-con at San Diego! I attended PASS Summit 2019 and once again competed in Speaker Idol but lost in the first round to Adrian Mee.

Prior to the world shutting down in March 2020, I was able to go to Nashville, Austin, and Baton Rouge. I continued to do some virtual user group presentations during the pandemic and Data Platform Summit. I was selected to present at both the virtual PASS Summits in 2020 and 2021.

I was asked to be the new co-lead for the Data Platform Women in Technology virtual user group. I have mentored New Stars of Data speakers who have gone on to do great things.

Once there were in person events again in 2022, I was selected to speak at CodeMash, Kansas City Developer Conference (KCDC) , DataGrillen, and the PASS Data Community Summit. I was the moderator for the WIT Panel Luncheon at PASS too!

Attending that first Summit really did change my life. I have traveled the world speaking and seeing really cool things and meeting really cool people, I hope that people have learned something that helped them in their job by attending my session, I have made lifelong friends, found a great job, and achieved things that I had only dreamed about.

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