Presentations – Lessons Learned

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Published on: January 14, 2010

This will be a very short entry.  I just wanted to share a few things  I learned very quickly while prepping for my most recent presentation for SSSOLV (Las Vegas PASS).

First, while doing the slides and testing the SQL, it dawned on me that I could probably fix one of the flaws in my first presentation very easily.  I did some checking and voila – it was indeed a very easy fix.  The problem that needed fixing was readability of SQL code on screen during presentations.  I tried using the magnifier, but that was horrific.  So for that presentation, I dealt with it.  It was very aggravating.

So, how did I fix it for this time around?  I changed the font size.  From SSMS, click tools and then options.  Under the environment option, select Fonts and Colors.  There is a Size dropdown menu on the right.  I changed that setting from the default of 10 to 20.  The code was plenty big to read now.

The same can also be done for the results.  Just change to “Grid Results” in the “Show Settings For” dropdown.  The default is 8, I just double this to 16.

Changing the “Grid Result” setting does require a Restart of the “Grid Result” which turned out to be a Management Studio restart for me.

Second, was something that ticked me off while prepping the slide deck.  I didn’t have an issue with this during the last presentation, and it was a monstrous issue this time around.  Sometimes it is nice to add custom animations to the slides to help hide and reveal items as you progress through the discussion.  The animations on images were not working.  The images were just laying on top of each other, doing nothing and looked like crud.  This too, is a simple fix – though tedious.  To get an image to perform the custom animation, it must be an attached image.  A pasted image will not work.  Once the image is saved as a “jpg” for example and then attached to the slide – the animation will work as expected and the slide will look more professional.

Third, to help the presentation flow, is to make sure all SQL connections are open and running.  I thought I was ahead of the game by having all of my scripts open in SSMS and ready to go in the order that I need them.  Well, my system went to standby while waiting for my turn to present.  When the system went to standby, all of my connections closed.  I didn’t think of this prior to starting my presentation.  This too is easy to fix – it just requires a mental note.  Prior to starting the presentation, and even prior to plugging in the connector for the projector – verify the connection state of any open scripts in SSMS.

Fourth, to save any embarrassment, run through your slides one more time close to presentation time.  Make sure they make sense.  Make sure any thoughts you want to bring up are noted on the slides or can be keyed from something on the slides.  And verify the look, flow, feel, and function of the slides.  The slide deck could be a useful tool along with any scripts to distribute to the group.  You will want to know that they are flawless.  Consider this as your final opportunity to edit and revise.

Lastly, build in some question and answer segments.  Invoke the group to participate.  Get them to help carry the presentation.  This will not only  help save your voice, but it will also help the group to stay in tune with the presentation.  This is less of a lesson learned, and more of a reminder.  I try to do this in any setting where I may be presenting (school, church, job).  This can easily be done with a slide insert labeled “Discuss” or “Why” or “Questions.”  Anything that will remind you and notify the group that interaction is forthcoming.

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