I’m on TV!

Old-fashioned four legged TV set isolatedI’m on TV! Not just any TV, Excel.TV, which unless you stream the internet on your TV set like I do, probably is on a computer monitor, but in my world it still counts. Please check out Episode 40 if you want to see a recording of the show where I talk about Power BI.

There is kind of an interesting story as to how I ended up being asked to be on the show. I was teaching a Power BI class, and Jordan Goldmeier b | t was talking it. Jordan started following me on twitter, and tweeted that he was in my class. I was really surprised and intimidated that an Excel MVP who has written a number of books on Excel was taking a class from me. My class was in the pre-Power BI desktop days, so I was going over the 4 Powers in Excel, Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View and Power Map. Jordan later told me that he learned something in my class. I was relieved. We’ve kept in contact since then, mainly via twitter, which is how I got asked to be on the show.

I was really impressed by Excel.TV and everything that Rick Grantham b | t , Szilvia Juhasz b | t and Jordan do to make the very professional, with graphics and sound effects. They asked me on to talk about Power BI. While on the ExcelTVshow, Rick asked me about the variety of things I have on my blog, and I got to thinking about it. Whether I use Power BI, Excel, Machine Learning, SSIS, SSAS or R, I am trying to do the same thing, make sense of the data and use the data to provide answers. You can call that data science or business analysis or business intelligence, but whatever the label or the tool, I think that really covers what I like to do.

I really enjoyed being interviewed, and I look forward to catching up with Rick and Jordan at the PASS Business Analytics Conference in May where we will all be speaking May 3-4. Maybe I’ll see you there too?


Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur


Lessons Learned About Speaking

As an attendee at PASS Summit, I had the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics, including public speaking. I’ll be devoting other blogs to the great technical things I learned, but I thought I would start by talking about the sessions in general. I saw a number of presentations, some which went well, others RimmaNimmeDavidDeWittwhich were beset by technical difficulties. By far the best talk I saw was the keynote with Rimma Nehme and David DeWitt of Microsoft. The presentation was well rehearsed without sounding canned, and the slides were absolutely amazing. You can check out the slides here as they are publically available. I am going to remember what made this talk work, and hope to incorporate what I saw here when I speak next. If you are interested in where that will be, check out my Engagement page as maybe we can meet sometime.

Speaking Techniques

I saw a number of different speaking techniques employed at Speaker Idol. People were really creative. Todd Kleinhans navigated through a game interface. Wes Springbob did an homage to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. By the way, if you haven’t read the series, I think you should as they are great books. I was surprised that all of the judges hadn’t read the books, but even those who didn’t thought he gave a great talk. I demonstrated that I had never used a microphone before, which was not positive. Bill Wolf worked to engage the audience throughout his talk. Ed Watson videotaped his demo. This technique is something that often I have heard that you should do in case your demo crashes, but this was the first time I have seen anyone who actually did record the demo. William Durkin brought great stage presence, which I noticed was a common theme among all of the talks I liked. Effective presenters know their topic so well that the talk should appear effortless and fun, without appearing that a script has been memorized that you are working to run through. Also, remember to have a point to follow during the presentation so I remember what the talk was about midway through. Everyone who did this I thought did a great job.

Speaker Idol Results

The finalist for Speaker Idol were William Durkin b | t , Theresea Iserman t, and David Maxwell b | t. My name was not there, due to my issues with the microphone, which put me off my game. Also despite my goal of not adding useless words, I threw in many “um” and “so” into my talk. In my round, William did the best job, so it was logical that he went forward. I talked to David and Theresa about their respective talks, and I know they put a lot of work and practice making them really good. David was the winner, so I look forward to seeing him at PASS Summit 2016 giving the talk of his choice. As for me, I hope to follow the pattern of fellow Speaker Idol 2014 non-winner Reeves Smith b | t who spoke at PASS Summit for the first time this year the old-fashioned way, by picking a good topic and writing a good abstract for it.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur

PASS Speaker Idol: Part of the Goal of Being a Better Speaker

MicrophoneAndStandIf one wants to get better at public speaking, there is no better way of doing that than to practice. Personally I think the best experience are where you are giving a talk to an audience, as that seems to improve my performance better than speaking to a mirror. I also read a lot of blogs regarding public speaking hoping to learn some tips. One of the things I know not to do, but I do anyway is add in those nothing works like “um” or “ah”. I know that I shouldn’t. I also know I shouldn’t procrastinate, but I find myself doing that sometimes as well. Sometimes you have to figure out ways to make yourself do things, like making a deadline so you can hit it or putting yourself in a situation where you are asking people to criticize your speaking skills. If the goal is to get better, I think you have to move yourself out of the comfort zone you may be occupying in order to make that happen.

Speaking as a Competitive Sport

For those of you who haven’t heard of PASS Speaker Idol, which is understandable since it has only been around for a year, it is a competition where 12 people compete by giving a five minute technical speech on a topic of their choice in front of an audience and a panel of judges. There are four rounds of competition, and 3 people will advance to the finals. The winner will get to speak at PASS Summit next year on a topic of their choice. Here are all the competitors, and the competition times. If you are at PASS Summit hopefully you can attend some of the sessions.

Wednesday (3:15pm – 4:30pm)

  • Todd Kleinhans
  • William Durkin
  • Ginger Grant
  • Ed Watson

Thursday (4:45pm – 6:00pm)

  • Rob Volk
  • Amy Herold
  • Bill Wolf
  • Wes Springob

Friday (2:00pm – 3:15pm)

  • Luciano Caixeta Moreira
  • Ronald Dameron
  • Theresa Iserman
  • David Maxwell

You will notice I am going on the first day. I’ve decided to give a talk on SSIS, and figured out how to talk for only five minutes.   I’ve been practicing, run through my demo, and took pictures of the demo in case it doesn’t work that day. After reading everything I could find on what happened last year, I’m feeling pretty good about my chances. Many thanks to Rob Volk t | b on all of the great information he put out about last year’s competition. A big thanks also to Denny Cherry t | b for not only starting the Speaker Idol contest but doing it again this year.

Winning Good Information

Regardless how the competition turns out, I will win information from those people who watch me speak how I can be a better speaker. Hopefully they won’t catch me saying “um” but I plan on learning how to apply some of the other things I learn to improve my talks the next time. If you are interested in where I am speaking next time, please take a look at the Engagements page on my blog where I list everywhere I have or will be speaking. One of the places I will be speaking is at the PASS Business Analytics Conference in May. I am thrilled to be able to talk about Implementing Successful Data Analytics Management Practices for two hours. After this week, I’m sure that presentation, and others will be even better than they would be. If you want to know how Speaker Idol turns out, please subscribe to my blog where I will be letting you know how it all turned out.


Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur