Posts tagged speakers

Community Choice Sessions at the PASS Summit 2010

Its Still Alive

Yes this blog is still alive!  I recently had some hard decisions to make with regards to what I needed to drop in order to get at least 3 hours of sleep in a night.  And unfortunately for the 3 of you that read my blog, it was the blog that lost that battle.  I should be getting back in the habit of writing now that the biggest crunch time for the program committee at the PASS Summit is over.

What happened?

Short answer : The PASS Summit speaker selection process. (Program Committee Manager role)

Longer yet short answer: The PASS Summit program committee leadership position is a very involved volunteer position, taking more hours of my time than I can count (Just ask my wife!!).  For the last month the 4 amigo’s (Jeremiah Peschka (Blog|Twitter) , Lori Edwards(Blog|Twitter), Elena Sebastiano (PASSHQ), and myself) have been working tirelessly towards the first goal of announcing the community sessions.  With that out of the way the PASS work doesn’t stop, we get to do other “fun” stuff.  Innovate with PASS if you like, because that’s what we’re going to try to do!!   

Community Choice Sessions

Ive talked about this before  and I’m happy to say, after quite a bit of work in ironing out the details, it is going to be a reality.  We’re in the process of building the pages, but I can already say that 20 Speakers are going to get a second chance at being selected to present one of their sessions at the Summit.   In order to make this happen, we went over the summit track selections, looking at alternates first, then other sessions that were ranked highly by the review teams.  We collected 20 sessions that we thought could fill in gaps in the educational offering, or that we thought deserved another look.  Essentially, we took the work the selection teams did and distilled it down to give the community 5 session choices in each of 4 different groups

We split up the sessions into 4 groups, 1 each for the tracks AD/BI/DBA and then added a fourth as a sort of menagerie containing sessions across all 4 tracks.  We plan on using the “PASS voting booth” to facilitate the voting in each category, so each “registered PASS Member” will have a vote for a session in each of the categories.  At the end of the voting period, the session in each category that has the most votes will be confirmed & put in the lineup to be presented at the 2010 PASS Summit in Nov.

Next week we should have all of the details finalized and Ill write more about it then but, for now be on the lookout for an email from PASS with more details about how you can help directly shape the sessions at the 2010 Summit.

PASS Summit Call for Speakers Now Open or “enter now for your chance to win!”

Hey, I bet you’ve heard by now that the PASS Call for speakers is now open.

No matter what your skill level as a public speaker, I would encourage you to submit an abstract.  Even if you think you’re not good enough or don’t have enough speaking experience, go ahead and submit an abstract.  It may be your lucky day and your abstract will be selected, at worst it will be practice in the art of composing a good abstract.

Why will this be good experience?  After looking through thousands of abstract submissions for years I’ve decided that composing a good abstract is an art.  It requires equal parts black magic and pixie dust to make a good abstract, and even when you have that it takes a bit of luck to get it accepted at a national conference.

In order to help potential speakers understand why their abstracts weren’t selected, last year I asked the review teams to tag each unaccepted abstract with a reason that it couldn’t be accepted.  As you might expect this created quite a bit of extra work for the teams but, for new speakers there should be good value in knowing whether the reason for no selection was the competition, a poor abstract, lack of interest in the topic, or some other reason noted.  The system isn’t perfect by any means because we don’t have the means to provide a detailed reason for no selection but, hopefully its useful.

One final reason I think everyone reading this should submit an abstract—> if during the submission process you select the “speaker bureau” checkbox, your info will be used by other PASS events needing speakers so you will have more potential exposure that will help you get the experience needed to speak at the Summit.

Important pages I would use if I were submitting an abstract to ANY SQL related event

I love examples, and learning from examples is what works for me so the currently submitted abstract list is a wonderful resource for learning how to write an abstract, not to mention scoping out the competition

The definition page – Obviously you cant submit a session if you don’t know the rules

Pre/Post Conference prerequisites – Already an expert? ready to present a full day and get the recognition you deserve? this one is for you

Understanding the selection process – Want to know how your abstract will be evaluated?  This is the place!

The speaker resource page – lots of good info here, don’t be afraid to dig around

Developing Better SQL Speakers

I’ve been focusing on different aspects of speakers and their interactions with PASS lately.  Id like to expand on that and take a large detour.

The AHA Moment

last week while going over some ideas and upcoming changes to the PASS Program Committee with my PASS boss, Jeremiah Peschka I had what I think is a great idea, and Id like to throw it out here and see If I cant help get it off the ground.

Speaker Development

It seems like a lot of the suggestions I’ve been getting lately with regards to the program haven’t really been relevant to the problem I was trying to solve.  At first I thought I wasn’t explaining myself properly or I was writing in the same manner my brain works (all over the place) .  Then It donned on me, maybe I’m trying to solve the wrong problem.  (I know this was definitely one of my greatest moments of clarity).  In a lot of what we do in the program committee we’re really not positioned to help speakers grow perse.  But, speakers still need help, they still want to refine their craft, learn new tricks, etc.  I know I for one would love to get started speaking but, while I can tell who is a good speaker, I certainly don’t know how they got that way, surely they weren’t born with it!!!

The BIG Idea

Why cant we make a new Virtual Chapter within PASS for speaker development.  I think this would provide a great venue for speaker development,  It would be great if we could get the best speakers within the SQL community to give a monthly livemeeting about the different aspects of developing speaking skills.  The topics could range from how to prepare for a topic, how to craft a great abstract, how to create great audience interactivity, how to create great demo’s/powerpoints etc etc.  There are literally hundreds of topics that I could see being presented that would be of great use to developing speakers.  If the idea takes off, I could foresee an exchange of sorts, where hopeful speakers are matched up with experts for mentoring.  Think where you look for a mentor for your SQL related speaking!  I think with my grand total of 0 sessions experience I wouldn’t be an appropriate person to lead this VC but, I would certainly be willing to help another more qualified person with the details and help out anywhere needed. 

How can I see this through

If only I had some contacts in the SQL speaker community  who would be willing to present on these topics?  Surely there are some talented SQL Speakers that would be willing to step up to the plate and offer to help out those of us just trying to start the process of learning to present.  Getting willing speakers to talk about these topics should be the hard part, the scheduling/leading the VC should be pretty easy but its still additional work.

So…… Which SQL Community Speaker/Leader wants to help me, help the community, and make this happen?  I’m totally open to any ideas, I’d just like to see this get started!

More PASS Speaker Thoughts

I’ve been kicking around several ideas in the program committee and a couple of them have to do with what information PASS releases, specifically information about the speakers.  The general question I’ve been trying to come up with ideas about, and the subject of this blog post  is:

Should PASS Release Speaker Evaluation Scores to the public

As with all things, there are goods and bad’s to releasing this data.  And there are even more possible ways to release the data.

Personally, I’d like to release aggregate scores for every session at every summit.  I’m not sure that is a practical option though.  I’m hoping some people out in the community might tell me that I’m thinking this through too much and no one cares, after all many of our speakers use which is totally open.

Is it really that scarry??

The Good

Everyone who purchased the Summit DVD’s would know when looking at their session lists which to focus on first

Every speaker would know exactly how they compared to others, I think this would be especially helpful to speakers who are just starting their craft.

New conference attendee’s would know which speakers have better ratings and could plan their itineraries appropriately.

The Bad

Every speaker may not appreciate their scores being published (especially lower rated speakers)

Privacy: See above

The options

We could simply require that if you want to speak at the Summit, we will release the results.  We could put some language in the terms that are agreed to by the speakers, actually I think we could do this without changing the current terms but, I do not think this is the right thing to do, it just doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

We could include an opt-in on the speaker terms, which would allow disclosure.  While this would be the easiest option to implement with the least amount of backlash, I don’t think it really accomplishes much, mainly because without the complete picture of the scores you wouldn’t know how the speakers ranked or if you were a speaker it would make it tough to know for sure where your session stood.

We could release the complete score list to every speaker, this would solve the speakers knowing where they rate in the crowd.  Unfortunately It wouldn’t help those in the community know which speakers were the best.

As with all things PASS I’m open to suggestions, and maybe I’m missing something, let me know

PASS First Time Speaker Statistics

Last time I wrote about limiting speakers to 1 session per summit, I appreciate the feedback, and thought id take another turn at this topic.

As I was reading the comments it reminded me that last year, I was asked by PASS marketing to pull a list of what we considered “new presenters”.  I thought I would revisit that list and give some of the statistics I discovered.

I want to start by saying I did this research almost 9 months ago, and I didnt reverify that this information was correct enough to post, it was pulled from their submitted bio’s.  So feel free to point out if something is wrong.

We had 85 unique community speakers in 2009.  Of these 85 I was able to identify 17 people who were new to the summit within the prior  year (08 and 09)

Gail Shaw 08
Grant Fritchey 08
Denise McInerney 08
Denny Cherry 09
Jacob Sebastian 09
Brent Ozar 08
Rod Colledge 09
Jamon Bowen 09
Jonathan Kehayias 09
Michelle Ufford 09
Ravindra Gurram 09
Jason Massie 09
Rob Garrison 09
Glenn Berry 09
Kendal Van Dyke 09
Kevin Guinn 09
Trevor Barkhouse 09

Every speaker on this list wasn’t new to speaking, they were new to speaking at the PASS Summit.  Which is exactly the kind of new speakers we’re looking for.

At first glance Id be willing to say that PASS is already doing a pretty good job of involving new speakers.  Using these numbers it looks like we already incorporated approximately 20% new speakers within a particular selection year.  While ultimately I think that number could(should) inch up even higher, Im happy to know that we’re not doing so badly at this that I want to go visit an Access conference just to raise my spirits.

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