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A Better Conference


A Better Conference

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Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item A Better Conference

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Making the whole thing improv would be quite hard for a technical event: how would you prepare your demo's?
I do support the community voting for sessions: that way the sessions who are most in-demand will be at the event.

At the Belgian community day - which is an event of all the Belgian Microsoft user groups - there's was this year a panel discussion with experts, allowing the crowd to ask questions. I didn't go because I went to another session, but it might be interesting :-)

The problem - at least here in Belgium - is that the audience is quite passive. You're lucky if they raise their hands if you ask a question. So I doubt if making it all more interactive would be an asset :-D


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Fascinating post!

To me, the sort of conference you describe is actually little more than a re-gurgitated technical manual! The kind that lists all the possible commands/ methods etc that are supported in a language, but there's no way to ask a human question, like "how do I calculate a percentage or shade it pale grey?"

You have to know a lot before you can begin to participate .... and if you know that much - why go at all?
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kate.fletcher 42758 (7/5/2013)
Fascinating post!

To me, the sort of conference you describe is actually little more than a re-gurgitated technical manual! The kind that lists all the possible commands/ methods etc that are supported in a language, but there's no way to ask a human question, like "how do I calculate a percentage or shade it pale grey?"

You have to know a lot before you can begin to participate .... and if you know that much - why go at all?


I usually go to sessions for one of two reasons:

* the subject is about a topic I haven't had time to delve into myself
* the speaker knows more about the subject than I do, so I will definately learn something

(Maybe this one as well:
* the other sessions in the time slot were more boring)

:-D


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I have regularly attended the SQLBits conference in the UK and find it follows a similar pattern to that described however months in advance presenters submit what they would like to present on and the attendees get to vote on which should be included. It certainly appears to work and I always find the session informative and would recommend to anyone. That said it would be great to have some more interactive or discussion sessions too. One of the sessions that does go a little towards this and helps new speakers get a foot in the door is the lightning talks session which is a full session made up of short (no longer than 5 minutes) individual presentations.
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While it would be rather hard to prepare for, perhaps actually having some "improv" type seminars mixed in with the pre-planned topics might be a good idea. Possibly have the speaker set what the basic topic will be (SQL backups? Statistics? Indexing?) so they can get some notes in order, maybe prep some demos for likely questions.

The attendees then are asked to bring up anything, no matter how small, that they might have a question about related to the current topic. Attendees would be encouraged to offer suggestions and ideas to other peoples questions / issues, and possibly given the opportunity to borrow the presenters' system to demonstrate. Almost more of a "round table" type discussion, rather than the "class room" type.

It would give the newbies a chance to ask questions in an arena with a large breadth of experience, while the "old salts" might pick up something new or be reminded of a feature they forgot about...

Having attended one SQL Saturday a few months back, it did seem there was at least some audience participation, although it did feel somewhat "schoolish." Not a bad thing, and I still enjoyed the seminars.

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Such a round table style session is a good idea.
Although I can imagine not everyone is comfortable with being bombarded with questions. :-)


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What about pre-submitting questions or scenarios to speakers a week in advance, giving them some idea of the parts of the topic you want to cover?

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Steve Jones - SSC Editor (7/5/2013)
What about pre-submitting questions or scenarios to speakers a week in advance, giving them some idea of the parts of the topic you want to cover?


That wouldn't be a bad idea either. I guess it would depend on the format once at the conference. If it's going to be more a "classroom" type discussion with the speaker providing the information, it would work OK, if it were to be a more "free wheeling" sort of discussion with input / suggestions / other attendees tossing out suggestions / answers then you might get stuck on one topic until time runs out...
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Steve Jones - SSC Editor (7/5/2013)
What about pre-submitting questions or scenarios to speakers a week in advance, giving them some idea of the parts of the topic you want to cover?


That would need people to filter the dupes out and a good description of the agenda ahead of time. The state level PASS teams probably aren't set up for that.



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