Michael J. Swart

September 2, 2011

Me and My Big Mouth (Literally)

Filed under: Miscelleaneous SQL,Tongue In Cheek — Tags: , , , , — Michael J. Swart @ 9:20 am


I First Learned About SQL as a Speaker

One of my jobs in University was to tutor first year computer science students. My friends would tease me and call me a “computer tutor” in a really nasally voice. But it was a good job and a good experience.

I did a large variety of things in that job. I did the usual things like running tutorials, marking papers, and helping students with their assignments. But I also gave campus tours and I gave workshops to other students.These workshops were very very brief introductions to various computer science topics.

I was assigned to give one of those workshops on the topic of something called SQL. It was the first time I had ever encountered anything database related and I was supposed to teach it! I had never even seen the word SQL before and it was years before I got used to pronouncing it sequel instead of ess cue ell. I was nervous then, but I don’t think I needed to be. I learned enough about that subject to teach it well and the preparation paid off. That experience made me comfortable around SQL and when I encountered this “database language” again, I found it easy to pick up where I left off.

During that job, I didn’t learn a lot about computers that I didn’t already know, but I did learn a  lot about speaking and teaching. I learned how tricky it was to pace yourself. If you talk too quick, the subject matter goes over everyone’s head. Speak too slow and it sounds like you’re condescending and talking down to people.

I still like talking about SQL Server. At work, I often give lunch-and-learns. These are lunch-hour talks put on by coworkers for coworkers to talk about standards or to teach something that needs explaining. In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about web development and I hope my colleagues have learned a bit about databases.

In general, I think public speaking is a good skill to have. Some are naturals (or seem to be) and others (like me) need the practice. So having said that …

I’ll Be Giving My First Talk at SQL Saturday #93 in Toronto

And so I’m super excited about giving a talk at SQL Saturday #93 in Toronto (September 17, 2011). SQL Saturday #93 is a free one-day workshop for SQL Server. (Register here!). The talk I’m going to give is called Obliterate Excessive Blocking and Deadlocking As a DB Developer, I think avoiding blocking is one of the most valuable skills to have. I’ll advertise this talk a bit more in a blog post next week. In the meantime…

Name that Caption!

That creepy picture of me up there is screaming for a better caption. Let me know your ideas in the comments, or put it in a tweet (@MJSwart). Let me know by the end of Wednesday (Sept. 7th). I’ll pick my favourite and let you know on Thursday!

Update September 15, 2011: So John Sansom is the lucky winner of the caption contest. John, I’ll buy you a drink next time we’re in the same city.


  1. Congratulations and best of luck!


    “Make mine a Triple BigMac”
    “Here’s a mint for that MJ”
    “SAAAAAAAAAN guy!”
    “Big mouth small………. database”

    …….. I should probably stop now 🙂

    Comment by John Sansom — September 2, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  2. Very nice, congratulations! Though, I’d figured that you were already a speaker due to the fantastic wealth of knowledge you share here.

    Comment by Matt Velic — September 14, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  3. Thanks Matt, that’s kind of you to say.
    Writing and speaking turn out to be very different things. Even writing slide decks seems to be tricky (It turns out, I need some practice writing those.)

    Comment by Michael J. Swart — September 15, 2011 @ 9:07 am

  4. It helps if you select topics that are very visual. Then you can take all the words out – have pictures and diagrams only: and then just point and grunt.

    Comment by david swart — September 16, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  5. We have the same name…… Awkward….. 😛

    Comment by Michael John swart — January 6, 2013 @ 3:29 am

  6. Hello Michael John Swart

    I’ll promise to not become notorious if do too.

    Michael John Swart

    Comment by Michael J Swart — January 7, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

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