T-SQL Tuesday #122 – Imposter Syndrome

How I work through imposted syndrome in the build up to a presentation

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What a great topic for the start of the year as we’re all thinking about goal setting and personal improvement. Thanks to Jon Shaulis (b|t) for hosting this first monthly blog party of the decade.

Imposter syndrome is mentioned so often in our community, and it’s really interesting to me the wide number of people, who I consider experts, that say they still feel this sometimes. I’m really excited to read about how other people combat this feeling and hopefully pick up some tips for when it creeps into my head.

I’ve only been speaking and blogging for a couple of years now and I’ve found myself most often feeling like an imposter as I’m getting ready for a presentation. The scenario I imagine the most is that an attendee asks a question that I don’t have an answer for, or even worse points out a mistake I made or something I said that isn’t true.

To combat these feelings I try and prepare as fully as I can for my presentation, including reading and re-reading any Microsoft Docs on the topic. Also if others in the community have written blogs on the topic I try and read those too. To be honest though, I learn best by doing so as I’m getting ready for a presentation I make sure I work through my demos and fully understand what is happening in a lab environment.

On the other side, I have to accept that there could be questions that I can’t answer, and instead of stuttering and panicking I just say something along the lines of, ‘Great question. I’ve got no idea, but I’ll find out and let you know’. First, this is a great way to generate content for blog posts. Second – you’ll gain the respect from the audience that you didn’t just try and make something up on the spot.

Hopefully as I speak more and gain confidence in my ability these feelings will subside. However, it’s also possible it’ll always be in the back of my mind. Perhaps it’s a good thing- if I didn’t experience this maybe I wouldn’t be as well prepared for presentations and I’d do the audience a disservice by being overconfident in my ability.

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