I was in Perth last week, teaching a private course. The course went well, but best of all, I got to meet a good Perth-based friend of mine for the first time. I've known Mitch Wheat for ages online, but he's always just been on the other end of the wire. Now I know what he looks like!
It was great getting to see Perth. The students I had were a great bunch of people, and I got to meet members of the SQL Server User Group when I spoke there on Tuesday night. I presented about ranking functions and windowing – but also spoke about the MERGE statement from SQL 2008. Both talks I'd done before, but this time squeezed in to a single talk. It was lots of fun.
I really encourage everyone to get into public speaking. It's terrifying, of course. But it's also terrifically rewarding. There's nothing quite like standing in front of a crowd of strangers and explaining something to them. With any luck they've come to learn, so they're not actually critiquing you as a presenter – they're just hoping to pick up some of what you know.
If you're reading this and don't even attend a user-group, please get involved. You meet other people who do what you do. You learn stuff you didn't know before. Next time you need to hire someone, you might find that the interviewee is someone you've come across before. But as soon as you stand up and demonstrate that you know your stuff, the quality of candidates who want to work with you goes up, because the smart people in the crowd will feel a certain affinity towards you.
And who knows – perhaps you'll decide that you want to try being a presenter at a Speaker Idol, like my friend Jeff Wharton who runs the Canberra SQL Server User Group. Jeff presented today at my user group in Adelaide, and it was great to be able to advertise him as an Idol Winner. Congratulations again, Jeff, and thanks for today.