Tuesday, October 10, 2023

A Community needs to grow New Speakers, new members #JoelKallmanDay

TL;DR: We should encourage more new speakers (and bloggers and writers...) to come mix with "the elders" and share findings and opinions. That is how "the Community" works, and how some of our knowledge is disseminated.

Background: Just some Events.

Last week, the NL-OUG hosted the EMEA-Tour of "speakers", and next week a number of those speakers will visit JavaCro and HrOUG as well.  I noticed there were, finally, some younger faces next to the usual-suspects in the known group of grey-grumpy DBAs. Some of the newbies had just recently completed a course and were sent off to their first customer just at the start of this months. 

Great to have those folks visiting an EMEA Tour.  Now we need these ppl to Talk! 

But how to get these ppl to talk and present? How to develop a pool of interesting, entertaining, useful, educational, communicative speakers ?

Pick a Topic... Help some colleagues.

(I've repeated this often already, some of you will recognize the list, but it is not you I need to  talk to...).

There is no excuse of "no topic". Anything you have learned is Relevant, and is probably interesting to others. Hence, to pick a topic for a talk, one of my tricks are these 3 steps:

1. Look back 3-9 months, and find your biggest obstacle or frustration (creating a k8s pod from helm-charts, convincing the architect to use #SmartDB, upgrading to python3, etc...)

2. Write down what you would tell your colleagues to "fix this" (explain pods/helm/operators - again, explain smartDB, import the correct libraries and drivers, etc...)

3. Create 20 slides for a 45min ppt, possibly compose a simple demo. The closing part of the presentation should be something that the audience can remember, something they feel they can take home and use themselves.

And Voila, you have "a presentation". Now just go see how ppl react to it, and what discussion ensues when you present it.

Of course you are perfectly free to follow your own system. You can also talk about, for example,... a) the latest marketing hype, either support or debunk it, b) whatever your boss is on about this week, c) dissect+rehash a chapter of RTFM (e.g. optimizer-hints...), d) discuss your dogs, puppies cats, kittens, with illustrations, e)tcetera... 

(Insert mandatory cat-picture? bcse a lot of the elder community members are "cat servants" rather than "dog owners"? nah, better not)

Development programs... Dont Impose: let ppl develop their own style.

I'm very much in favour of just letting ppl develop their own "brand". When encouraging a new speaker to stand up, firstly, let them decide for themselves on topic and style. But for those who prefer some guidance, there is also the MASH program (link). Do Contact those mentors if you feel it can help you! 

I remeber how back-when my employer sent everyone off to "the development course", and we were instructed on "how to present". I was lucky: The instructor at the time notices a lot of my faillures (jacket not closed, hand in pocket, too-informal, too-many-jokes)... And the "up and coming management" was quick to point out all my failures. Thx guys. 

The instructor reacted positive though, he summarised: 1) you all grinned at the jokes.. and 2) he got the main message Squarely Across, and you wont forget it 3) this is the "Genuine Persona", and not some plastic-barbie-ken-in-suit. That instructor showed me I could just stand in front of any audience, relaxed, and more or less "just be me". That was my style from that point on. I think it worked (partly also bcse I always bothered to learn some of the local language and culture as well. In the Balkan: refer to no-smoking, miracles of pyramids and rivers, mention Fata, Mujo and the Topalovic family, and you are good in most coutries).

How to Start: Just Fix them up to Do It.

Here is a task for both employers and community-folks. Give your ppl the time and space to go present. But a lot also depends on whether a person sees this opportunity and uses it. Some have that ambition, others maybe dont, and that doesnt make them any less a meaningful and valued member of the team.

(hope most of you are old enough to know those movies...)

Start Small.

The UKOUG used to have SIGs and Meetups, relatively small events where speakers could "cut their teeth". I still think that is a good system.

Ideally, a community has small scale events, meetups, gatherings, where ppl can talk freely to peers. In the 1990s, my then-employer had company-meetings where ppl were encouraged to mix and also had to speak up. Next to that, several groups also held "meetups. The "oracle nerds" held "pancake-meals" where they discussed nerdy-stuff. 

And one of the tricks at those small scale meetings was to Interrogate every participant: That way you found out what they were doing, how they could possibly help colleagues, and if they might need some help themselves. Call it "knowledge management" if you like.

By provoking every person present to "introduce", they started their first "speaking assignment" right at the dinner table. And by giving them some air-time, both the speaker and the listeners could find out how this person could benefit "the community" at that point. Often, this lead to telephone-connections and/or help-sessions between colleagues. And that is also community.

Summary: Please encourage your "juniors"...

Only by keeping "the mix" and the socializing alive can a profession and a community remain in existence. That can be in-person (my pref), but also partly online in Forums and lists and groups.

No comments:


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