Whenever I’m speaking at a SQL Saturday, I always make it a point to attend sessions that are similar to mine. At #814, I met Matt Cushing, who was doing a session on networking. In fact, our presentations had very similar titles; they both started with “Networking 101.” That very much caught my attention, and once I finished my own (my presentation was in the time slot immediately before his), I went to his room to catch his presentation.
A big reason why I attend presentations similar to mine is that everyone is different, and will therefore present differently. Other people will have different perspectives of the same topic. I want to see these other perspectives. They might have ideas that will help me enhance my own presentations. Every time I attend a session in which the topic is relevant to my own, I come across something that either never occurred to me, presents an idea in a different way, or reinforces concepts in my own presentations. These are important, and they help me make my presentations even better.
Matt gave a great presentation! I found his own self-assessment on his ‘blog. I found out that it was Matt’s first-ever SQL Saturday presentation. I had no idea! He did a great job with it. (Matt, if you’re reading this, well done!) I don’t remember all the points from his session (I’ll need to download his presentation slides), but one takeaway was that “competition is good, cooperation is better.” (This thought inspired the name of this article you’re reading now.)
This concept of cooperation is applicable to countless situations, and SQL Saturday presentations are no exception. Many presenters refer to other speakers or other presentations; even in my own presentations, I’ll encourage audience members to go check out other presentations that are similar to my own topic. (Ed. note: I need to make sure I add a reference to Matt’s presentation in my own slides!) Matt and I joked that we should encourage SQL Saturday organizers to schedule our sessions back-to-back; we even went as far as to say that we should do a joint presentation. (Matt, I’m game if you are!)
In a way, Matt is a competitor in that we did similar presentations. However, we were both able to learn and feed off each other, which enables us both to improve; it’s a win-win for both of us. Competition is a healthy thing; it drives us to do our best. But when you cooperate with your competition, there’s no telling what you can accomplish.