For me so far it has been the speaker selection. Getting sponsors didn’t prove to be difficult, we have a great market being we are Atlanta GA. Locating a venue to hold the event presented a few challenges but again we are a large area so there are several venue to chose from but boy did we get lucky with Georgia State University in Alpharetta. Finding a location for the speaker dinner we also had a lot of choices.
If you see our trend, we continue to have options available to us for each decision with planning our event. Therein was our problem with selecting our speakers, we had over 100 sessions submitted and only had 40 available sessions to fill. We have 14 MVP’s and 3 Microsoft employees presenting at SQL Saturday 89. Many of our MVP’s ended up with two sessions to present. This decision was made mostly due to session content.
Since many of our speakers are also PASS Summit presenters and our SQL Saturday is close to the time of the Summit we expanded two time slots to 75 minutes. This proposed another issue. To try to place our MVP’s into these two time slots put a lot of great talent up against one another. How does one chose which session to attend when all their favorite speakers are speaking during the same time slot.
Not only was the arranging of the schedule tedious, having to cut some speakers from the lineup altogether was gut wrenching. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have to turn people away than not have enough speakers to build a schedule but I still didn’t feel good having to do it. I personally emailed each person that didn’t make the schedule to let them know the reasons why and to let them know about the three other SQL Saturday’s happening on September 17th. I also let them know about our future event on April 14th 2012.
The process of building the schedule was really simplified by the online tool within the SQL Saturday portal. There is a schedule builder that is very dynamic that allows you to building your tracks and time slots. You then get to pick the submission from a drop down box. How simple does that sound. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to post the schedule but once I did I sent out an email to all users who submitted sessions. Sending out the email was a simple task using the portal as well.
Most questions that I have had since our site went live I have been able to answer by checking the SQL Saturday WIKI. What a great resource. There have been a couple of questions I haven’t been able to find but figured out myself our reached out to HQ. Those have now been added to the WIKI. Each SQL Saturday that is held makes this who process more efficient and makes the community stronger. I am very proud to be a part of it. A big thanks to Andy Warren and the original crew who started SQL Saturday’s.