Just Start at the Beginning

Do you have one of those friends who tell it to you straight?  No?  Get one ASAP.  Those are the real friends.  I have SEVERAL of those friends and I am so grateful for each one of them.  I am gonna call out one of those friends today.  My great friend Rie (T/B) is an amazing, wonderful, funny, kick-ass lady who gives me the right amount of hugs and punches.  She keeps me going at times when my fear monster seems the strongest.  (Everyone has fear monsters, right?)


When contemplating stepping into the “speaking circle” I had the kind of nerves and fears that are not new, but are still very prickly.  I wanted to speak, I wanted to contribute to the great SQL Community and SQL Family….but where would I start?  What would I talk about for an HOUR?  Would anyone want to listen to what I have to share?  What if I fail?  What if I am WRONG?  WHAT IF I AM BORING?!?!?!  (I think that one may scare me more than anything these days.)  What do I have to contribute?

So many questions, so many fears, so many reasons to not even try!


Let’s stop right here and address something.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Everyone has a point of view that is unique and different. Think about Shakespeare for a moment.  How many ways has Hamlet or Romeo & Juliet been told, retold, reworked, renewed, etc.?  Hundreds of thousands of times!  And you too have a unique story to tell. It is yours, only yours, and we deserve to hear it!  I have to give a shout out to Mindy Curnutt (T/B) here.  I watched her presentation on Imposter Syndrome and it was very eye opening. You can watch it here.

Where to start.

So Back to Rie.  I was day-tripping on the worry train and asking all kinds of questions.  One that really stuck out was “Where do I start?”  Her very honest reply was “At the beginning, Angela.  You start at the BEGINNING.”  Think about how often that question (I call them fearstions) stops you in your tracks.  The answer is so simple.  You don’t ever start in the middle.  You ALWAYS start at the beginning!

She shared with me that the best way to start writing a session is to get your ideas on paper, start an outline and then build the content from there.  So very deceptively simple!  So you know what I did?  I started at the beginning!

I grabbed some paper and a pen and I sat my thoughts to paper.  First I started with a list of things that I really know well, things that get my engines revving.  Then I started whittling down that list and decided that I wanted to give my first presentation on a professional development topic.  And there the first idea for my session on Soft Skills was born.

Like magic, it begins to form!

I had my idea, I felt very strongly and very excited about this idea.  I wrote the numbers 1-10 on a sheet of paper and started thinking about soft skills, real life examples of good and bad soft skills, and what the most important soft skills would be.  Those 10 lines became very full.  And just like that…I had my outline!

My next step was to do a lot of research to build out the content of my outline.  Step by step my session begin to take form.  Once I had what I wanted to say, I had a blast trying to find graphics to give those slides a little extra punch.  I am a firm believer that artwork  and humor make everything better.  Throw some verbal glitter around, toss some graphics into your session, it makes life much more interesting!

My secrets, revealed.

So there you have it, my secrets to how I made my very first session.  I started at the beginning: settled on an idea, created an outline, filled in the outline with research and facts, and then decorated it!  The biggest and most important step was simple starting at the beginning!  Thank you Rie!


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Angela Tidwell

I am a constant student, a proud wife and mom, and I love to tell a good story. I also love hockey, car dancing, and singing!

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