When the demo’s don’t work the men and woman are seperated from the boys and girls.

So a couple of nights ago Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter), Wendy Pastrick (Blog | Twitter), Jonathan Kehayias (Blog | Twitter) and I were talking about how some of our demo’s have completely and totally failed, often in front of a live audience.  As we all were chatting about our various demo’s crapping out we came to the realization (ok, we had all already come to this realization separately) that when your demo fails, how you handle it is how you prove that you are a truly good speaker.

Speaking by it self isn’t all that easy for a lot of people (oddly not me, but I’m kind of an attention whore) but when that demo blows up, and it will at some point, how you handle that is where you really show that you know the product.  Since it is a little hard to tell a good story in 140 characters, I decided that a blog post would be a good way to give my story.

Windows just won’t cluster

So my first mega fail was actually not in front of a live audience (unless you count the recording engineer).  The first time I did a recording for the SSWUG conference (I think it was the first, I’m going to record by third or fourth set of sessions soon) one of the sessions that I did was on SQL Clustering.  During the session I walked through the Windows 2008 clustering process and got the SQL Installation started.  I would jump back to it through out the session so the demo was throughout the session because sitting there watching the wizard running which I do nothing isn’t very exciting.

So I tested everything before I left home and everything was working perfectly.  I decided to test everything from the hotel the night before (I always fly in the night before when I do the recordings) and when I ran through the clustering validation wizard it took 3 or 4 times for me to get a successful validation.  At this point it was late, so I called it a night.  When we did the recording the next day, wouldn’t you know it the damn validation wizard just wouldn’t work.  Which means that SQL Server wouldn’t install on the cluster as SQL won’t install on a cluster that hasn’t passed validation.  So I just had to wing it, and explain that this is what you should be seeing on this screen, etc.

Needless to say the session went great, and was a pretty good length (I think I went really close to the one hour limit on it) and the reviews were great.  I even got some positive reviews for leaving in the problem demo and not refilming it to make it look correct.

OK, who’s set off the fire alarm?

My second story is more recent, and was in person.  At the 2010 SQL PASS Summit I was doing a quick 45 minute storage session during Buck Woody’s post-con on Sharepoint.  During my talk the fire alarm for the building started going off.  It wasn’t so loud that you couldn’t here me, but it was a bit annoying to listen to (I suppose that is the point).  Someone come in to tell us that we didn’t need to leave, which was good since I was still talking, with occasional pauses to yell at the building, but we worked right through it.

What’s happened to you when you present?

So what sort of fun would this telling of the nightmares be if I didn’t open it up for you to tell us about what sort of problems you’ve had with your demo’s or sessions (hopefully Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter) will post something, he’s got some great stories).  If you aren’t syndicated on SQLServerPedia.com or SSC please link back to me, so I can compile a master list later.




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