I just got the feedback in from my SQL Rally presentation. I gave one presentation (well I took part in a couple other events and one other presentation but this was the only “all me” one that I was rated for) All in all I was pleased with my “performance”. This was the first time I’ve given a professional development chat and the topic was “different” (Iceberg, Dead Ahead – if you want to see some slides or read more about it) I was more excited to give this talk than any other I’ve given because I think the lessons are real and they stuck with me and changed me while working on the presentation. I hope the outcome was the same for those who attended.

I averaged 4.667 out of 5.0 from the 14 that returned evaluations. I didn’t count but I would put the attendance at 30 or more. A 50% return ratio isn’t that abnormal, so I’ll take it. Let’s delve into the results a little like I’ve been doing lately.

Before we do, go read my post “on feedback” from a few weeks ago. These questions are getting better but I still want to see more “constructive criticism inducing comments” and then bigger carrot’s to drive filling them out. No, not because I’m vain but because I really want to be better each time I speak (or be so horrified by those who are too polite to leave negative feedback that I finally get the hint and decide to help out in ways other than speaking…)

The Feedback:

The questions and the average score for each from the 14 were:

  • How would you rate the Speaker’s ability to convey information and control the presentation? – 4.643
  • How would you rate the Speaker’s knowledge of the subject? – 4.857
  • How would you rate the accuracy of the session title and description to the actual session? – 4.643
  • How would you rate the speaker’s use of the allocated time to cover the topic/session? – 4.500
  • How would you rate your ability to follow along with the speaker’s examples/demonstrations? – 4.714
  • Please rate the practicality of the information presented. – 4.643
  • Session Average of average scores – 4.667

Couple things I noted:

  • 9 of the 14 evaluations came back with 5.00 across the board! That was exciting to see. Normally I’ll discount the high and low outliers when really trying to drive meaning from feedback but seeing that many that high tells me that the topic of learning from real world disasters isn’t such a horrible topic to cover.
  • The others were spread out as 3 giving 4.5 or higher and 2 that were 3.00 and 3.50 respectively.
  • Let’s delve into the bad ones and the comments of all –

Comments from the 3.500 Average – This person actually left the most comments. Almost one for each question above. The comments were:

For Question 3 “At a SQL Conference, not an ATC Conference!” –> ATC = Air Traffic Controller, by the way 🙂

For Question 6 “Was extremely loosely tied to SQL.”

For “What Could this speaker do to improve” – “Tie it to SQL disaster even if it’s fictional”

My comments:

  1. I gave a disclaimer at the beginning. In fact it was a three part one. It went something like this “I’m going to give you three reasons to leave and I won’t mind if you do for any one of the reasons. First off this is a professional development talk. It is not about SQL Server and it isn’t a technical presentation, there are three great sessions down the hall all covering SQL Server concepts, go check out one of those great talks if you are looking for technical content” I then mentioned that it would be all about airline disasters and, while we wouldn’t be sensationalizing them, if someone was nervous about flight or had their own lives touched by a similar disaster they may want to leave. So I see those first two comments and I really can’t help but go “Blah”
  2. The last one was a good one and I will look into how I can perhaps improve working more SQL examples but the point wasn’t even “SQL Disasters” the point was “these attitudes cause disasters. Here are some extreme examples off the attitudes and their impact and here is where we can work on improving them. We did talk about SQL and our day jobs but there was no need to talk SQL specific disaster. I’ll see how I can tie SQL into it more, though.
  3. Even this reviewer managed to give me a 5 for the first question and a 4 for the 2nd, 4th and 5th questions. 2s came on 3 and 6 (the ones with comments) so I actually appreciate this feedback in that they thought about the questions and explained their low marks. I may have wished that person was there or paid attention to the disclaimer because they would have ended up leaving and finding a better session than a Professional Development talk.

3.00 Feedback Leaver – I wish I knew what I could have done here. The scoring from this person went 3,4,3,2,3,3 but no comments. The 2 came on the time question and I did allow a lot of interaction (on purpose) so I could see why that could be scored a bit lower. This was one talk where I was okay being dinged on time, though. I wanted to allow good audience interaction and I had 4 aviation accidents to discuss with corollaries for us. I left the most complex for last knowing we’d leave it off if we had good interaction and discussion and still be okay time wise. That is what happened so it worked as planned.

Other Comments –

One Reviewer left comments for nearly every question:

1.) “Balanced questions well” – Super! I like audience participation. In fact I say I thrive off of it and it puts me into “presentation zone” when we interact.
2.) “Good research. Like the analogies between DBA & piloting”  – That’s great. I did spend a TON of time researching these incidents, Crew Resource Management and pouring over accident reports and data to find the right ones. I really am fascinated by the topic (the lessons from the accidents) and it is great to see that paid off!

6. “Not Technical, but thoughtful” – Great. That was the intent.

What could the speaker do to improve? “Publish DBA pilot checklist on blog.” – I like this idea and will look into doing it. I’m actually going to start a whole series on some of the lessons we learned and discussed in that presentation and my research into it next week.

Other feedback

“Fantastic presentation! Loved the application of real life examples!”

“Great Presentation!” x2

“Consider showing some checklists/flight docs” – great idea! I showed one checklist example but I should show more, maybe even make a DBA checklist handout if I am invited to give that again sometime.


So there weren’t a ton of data points but from those who took the time to fill out surveys (good and bad), I think I’ll keep this talk in the arsenal and continue with some of the focus I’ve been putting on professional development and taking lessons from mistakes in real life. I’ve been thinking of expanding on this theme more and maybe even doing a co-presentation with a certain someone in the SQL community who is also interested in not making the same mistakes twice.

Thanks to all who attended! Thanks so much to all who took the time to give feedback!

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