When I present at any given event, I generally assume that the people attending have heard of the event that I’m at. For example, I don’t need to ask people at SQL in the City, “Who here has heard of Redgate Software?” Same thing goes for a SQL Saturday event “Did anyone here know that there’s a local, free, event being held that provides free training and networking in your area?” seems like a waste of time while at the event. However, what about the rest of the community?
If you’re working on your presentation skills, I’d like you to add one more bit of work to everything else you’re doing (yes, yes, you’re welcome). I’d like you to get in the habit of taking 3-5 minutes prior to the start of your presentation to promote community. If you’re at a SQL Saturday event, talk about the local chapter and any other nearby upcoming SQL Saturday events. If you’re at a SQL Server event, mention the upcoming BA event. Cross-pollinate your communities as much as possible. Be respectful though. If you’re at a paying event, it’s not really good form to promote another, competing, paying event. However, passing along word of a meet-up or virtual chapter where people can get additional information on the topic you’re presenting, that’s fine.
Don’t assume that everyone knows what you do. I’ve made a habit of checking at the beginning of my sessions, “Who attends their local PASS Chapter? Who hasn’t heard of PASS? Anyone here who hasn’t heard of SQL Cruise? Who is going to PASS Summit this year? Let me tell you about PASS Summit…” I know I’m introducing people to the size and depth of the community that we all take part in because over and over, I get large sections of the room who haven’t heard of the different topics I bring up.
Talking to the people in your session like this serves a dual purpose. First, and I’d argue most important, you’re promoting the community. Second, you’re warming up and you’re warming up your audience. They’re getting used to you and you’re getting a sense of them. This will help you deliver your session because you’ll know better how the crowd is responding.