I give a lot of technical presentations, including weeklong and multiday classes, one-day seminars, and 75-90 minute breakout sessions at conferences. This week, I'm doing something I haven’t done before, and even though it will last no more than an hour, I am feeling more nervous than ever before. Actually, by the time you read this commentary, it will be over.
On Tuesday, April 1, I will be speaking at the SQL Server 2008 launch event in Seattle. Brian Moran has written several SQL Server Magazine UPDATE commentaries about the SQL Server 2008 launch events, so if you need more background about the purpose of these events, see "The SQL Server 2008 Launch Events" (http://www.sqlmag.com/Articles/ArticleID/97967/97967.html). Although it’s rare for non-employees to present at official Microsoft launch events (at least in the United States), it's not entirely unheard of.
What makes me nervous isn't that I will be up onstage in front of hundreds of people, with bright lights shining in my face. I’ve done that before. Give me a SQL Server technical topic that I know well, and I can talk for hours and create demonstrations as I go along. What makes me nervous about speaking at the launch event is the fact that I can’t talk about the really juicy technical details that I love to discuss in my books, classes, and DVDs. I need to keep this presentation high level so that everyone can appreciate it, and I also have to present a marketing message and relay Microsoft’s goals for SQL Server 2008. In addition, I don’t know the product very well yet because it keeps changing. The preparation material that I have been given is based on SQL Server 2008 CTP5, but I will be running my demonstrations on SQL Server 2008 CTP6, which still isn't feature complete and is different enough from the all the samples and recordings that I have seen that I have to verify every action to see what's the same and what's different between CTP5 and CTP6. There are launch events going on until June, so undoubtedly some of my successors will have access to bits more closely resembling the final product. (And they will have to learn all the nuances of the versions they are presenting before taking the stage.) Also, I have never really been comfortable presenting someone else’s slides and demos. However, I have been given a bit of leeway there, and I can make minor changes, as long as I still get the key marketing messages across.
I hope you aren’t misunderstanding me. Although I am nervous, I’m excited to be giving this presentation. The really wonderful thing about this opportunity is that it has forced me to really get my hands dirty with SQL Server 2008. I had just skimmed the surface before, but now I'm digging away at it every day in preparation for my presentation. Everything I learn about SQL Server 2008 is exciting, and I can hardly wait to start discovering all the things that aren’t described in the documentation. Did I say that it will be over by the time you read this commentary? Well that was just a little April fool's joke … it will be just the beginning!