It occurred to me the other day that I have become so comfortable speaking at DB2 conferences, I forget that there are many people out there who feel they could never do what I do
Well, do you know what, that used to be me too!
Yes, when I first started attending DB2 GSE meetings in the UK, I was too embarrassed to even raise my hand in the crowd when they asked who were new members. Mind you, that ages me as well - who else can remember the crowds we used to get at local DB2 events? The first UK GSE meeting I attended had around 120 attendees!
Anyway, I digress
It occurred to me after a few meetings, that if I wanted to make DB2 my career (which I did) then there was a good chance that my future boss might also be attending these events. Wouldn't it be great if he/she knew who I was before I even applied for a new job. What better way to do that than to actually speak
Now, my wife used to take public speaking classes, and even know I couldn't do what she did - speaking about a random topic selected by the teacher. We are extremely lucky - we are talking about something we not only love, but also (usually) understand inside-out. This is MUCH easier, believe me
So, I started small and presented short sessions (they were usually 30 minutes, presented VERY fast) on aspects of DB2 that we were exploiting. Keep in my comfort zone, I thought
Don't underestimate the nerves - I was sure the audience could see how nervous I was
But then something odd happened
People used to come up at the end of the sessions and not just ask questions, but also to comment on "how useful" they found the talk and "how comfortable" I seemed
Then I realised something important
What the audience sees and hears is important - the way the speaker feels hardly ever translates into anything that the audience picks up on!
From there it was a small step to speaking in front of larger audiences
BMC came along with an offer (I was a big customer of theirs in those days) and invited me to speak at a UK event (maybe 30-50 attendees) followed by a European event in Oslo (200 or so attendees). That seemed to be a good progression, so I accepted their invitation. Only for them to switch the two dates around so the big one came first
You know something? I survived the experience
It was a small step from there to IDUG, and the rest (as they say) was history
So, to close this blog post, I have a few small pieces of advice
1. Don't underestimate your own ability
2. Don't think that you are doing nothing special and nobody is interested - many of us really are doing special things with DB2
3. Start with your local user groups, and get comfortable with a small audience
4. Don't hesitate to ask for help. Existing speakers will be only too happy to help you along
Oh, and I'll finish by saying - DON'T get stressed by who might be in your audience. I'll never forget the first time I noticed Roger Miller at the back of one of MY audiences. THAT was a shock. But do you know something? Even the stars of DB2 at IBM are interested in hearing what users are actually doing with DB2
Lead Product Manager