Tweet Pick: Risk Taking


Thinking outside-of-the-box requires more than just changing your mindset. It requires taking that step of risk that you wished you wouldn’t

Twitter Post 19-July-2009

Yesterday, I delivered my very first 24 Hours of PASS presentation via webcast.  There’s something about doing a task the first time that generates a lot of butterflies in your stomach. I guess I know how that feels as I try to do a lot of “first time” stuff.

Immediately after my presentation, I started monitoring Twitter posts to gather feedback from the attendees.   Here’s what I saw.

You need to know a few things about my presentation style to really understand why these types of feedback matter to me. First, I use graphics a lot. Simply because I’m a big believer in the concept of visual learning.  That we are hard wired to learn more effectively by visual representation of concepts instead of words. And I use this concept in my presentations. Second, I tell stories. Because we all love stories whether hearing or telling them. So whenever I deliver a presentation, I spend a LOT of time formulating a story line that highlights the concepts that I teach as well as researching pictures that will represent those concepts. Add to that the technical preparation when a demo needs to accompany a presentation – preparing my virtual machines, writing the scripts, testing my demo, etc. Which is why delivering a presentation for me is a labor of love considering the amount of time and effort that I invest in preparation.

Now, you may ask, where do I see risk taking in all of these? I’m glad you asked because it’s the reason why you’re reading this blog post.  Risk always involves deviation from expected results or outcome. If you’ve sat in one or more presentations, you know how it feels like to listen to boring speakers with PowerPoint slides that contain a ton of information. I used to be like that. I bore the attendees with my slides, literally wasting their precious time listening to me. If I did the same things I’ve done throughout the years that I’ve delivered presentations, I’d get the same results. Which is why I call it taking a risk. I was taking steps that I knew would deviate from expected results.
Back then, I wished I didn’t have to make those changes.  They were difficult to make and very time consuming. It required me to think out-of-the-box when it comes to delivering presentations that I wasn’t really comfortable with. It’s like trying to write with your left hand when you’ve been writing with your right hand your entire life.   But I made the decision and took the plunge. Was I aware of the possible results? Yes, I was. I was aware that people may or may not accept the outcome. In fact, the first time I did a presentation here in Canada where I used a lot of graphics, few attendees did not like it. And I’m pretty sure not everyone will like it because it is deviating from the expected results. But I will definitely continue to do it. Why? Because there will come a time when my presentation style will become the norm. By then, I will start to make changes to my current approach and continue taking risks.

If you’ve wondered if the risk was worth taking, I suggest you ask those who’ve attended my presentations from SQLRally 2011 in Orlando or simply catch me live in one of my upcoming presentations.

Have you taken any risks lately? If you haven’t what is keeping you from doing so? Share your story here.

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