Consider this one a thinking out loud post more than most. We’ve had an explosion of speakers in the SQL Server world over the past three years, and more arriving every day. That’s an unbelievably good thing for our community and our profession for a lot of reasons. Almost all do a passable or better job at sharing something they know with those that want to learn, and in fact I tell beginners that passion and knowledge are far more important than presentation skills. As a group we’ll forgive nervousness if you share good stuff!
But it’s not always enough to wing it. If you’re going to do a pre-con at SQLRally or the PASS Summit where people will be paying good money to see you present, you need to have better than average presentation skills…not just technical skills. Or if you want to do an event keynote. Or move to being a paid trainer.
My friend Don Gabor is a member of the National Speakers Association, a group set up for speakers that make their living speaking (which excludes most of us!). But having something like that seems like a good idea, all the way from teaching the basics to mentoring to challenging all of us to take another step and not rest on our laurels.
So, that brings me to the idea of PASS sponsoring some speaker workshops, ongoing training, professional evaluations, and maybe some certifications/skill levels. I’ve taught a beginners course for speakers a few times in the past few years as we’ve tried to grow new speakers, and I think PASS sponsored curriculum for that would be great. It would also be nice if we trained professional evaluators (coaches?) to watch speakers at various events and give them specific feedback, far more detailed than they get from attendees.
Part of it paying dues to learn and earn the skills. Part of it making sure the newbies have a clear path to get in the game. Part of it is encouraging the best kind of competition – trying to be better than you are. Can we build something useful that would do this? Is there enough interest to drive this long term? Would it be perceived as a real benefit to PASS members? Would the Speaker logo look good on your resume?
I’d like to hear what you think. If there is enough interest then we can work on which ideas make sense and how to do them.