Heidi’s journey to speaking

Let me tell you about Heidi. I knew her from the SQL community before I’d set up my business, and hiring her was an easy decision because she clearly has what it takes to be successful. When I hired her, she made it clear she didn’t want to be presenting anywhere and as her boss I respected that. In time she left my company and now has an influential role in a government department, so I no longer need to abide by the promise I made to not have her present. In fact, she’s stepped up herself.

Heidi always has amazing colours in her hair

If you’re in the PASS community, you might recognise Heidi from some of the Summit marketing from recent years, where she’s talked about how she goes along to the Summit as part of her holidays. I had the privilege of taking her to the PASS Summit when she worked for me, and she got hooked. Last year, she participated in Speaker Idol, and I was able to help coach her a little beforehand.

Like many new presenters at the user group I run, and anyone else who wants me to help them craft a talk, I encourage them not only to know the tech, but also to have the story they’re wanting to tell. Perhaps the worst kind of presentation for a new person to give is “everything I know about technology X”, and their session becomes just a list of features. My preference is to have some sort of narrative for the session, to be able to explain where the tech fits in – the features will generally look after themselves.

And so with Heidi, I was able to help her craft a session this way. Her Speaker Idol talk on Cognitive Services was able to help describe how she evaluated audience feedback in a lighthearted way, and her enthusiasm for the technology got her through to the final. The talk she gave a few weeks ago at my user group told the story of how she uses Azure Data Studio on a day-to-day basis, centred around a demo of what she actually does with it. She still had a list of features, but this allowed her to revisit them after the demo, hooking back to things she’d just shown people.

Heidi just oozes enthusiasm. When she gets in front of a camera or a room full of people, she can easily convey her love for the topic. This is what wins over the people listening, opening their ears to discover the reason for her passion. She will go far, and I’m tremendously proud to have been able to help encourage her.

Now she’s submitted three sessions for PASS Summit 2019, and I really hope she gets selected.