Recording Sessions for the Virtual Summit


A week ago the SQL Bits conference took place in London, sort of. The event was virtual, but it was held during the London timezone, which makes sense as all the organizers are there.

A few weeks before this, PASS announced that they wanted speakers to record their sessions in advance of the Virtual Summit. Some speakers were already doing this for SQL Bits, but I saw lots of complaints in blogs, on Twitter, and various other places. I understand the complains, and the concerns over the time needed. I also understand the equipment concerns, which can be an issue for some people.

I feel all those things myself.

This post talks about how I view this process for 2020. If you want to know what the platform looks like, I have another post on that.

My Advice

I’ve talked with a few people, all of whom have different views on this. My approach for this is to forget about the issues and prepare as you would for any other conference, albeit with a deadline being 2 weeks early.

Write your presentation, build the deck, practice the demos.

Then just record it. Set aside a quiet time, and put a timer on your desk and start recording. If you make a mistake, treat it like you are on stage and keep going.

Stumble over words, keep going. Have a demo break, move on or spend 30s trying to debug it. Just like on stage.

Get the recording done and make sure it’s under time. If things really went poorly, then correct them in your demo, practice again, and record one more time.

That’s it.

Don’t spend more time or effort. This is a conference, we all have things go wrong, so adapt to them as you might on stage.

Perfection Is an Enemy

I tend to not want a lot of mistakes, and often end up with 5, 10, or more takes for some things I record. I may spend lots of time editing, or re-watching the recording and trying to decide what to do.

I may practice a talk 10 or more times before I give it, including going through it the night before. I often set a timer, close my door, tell my wife I’m busy, and run through things in real time. I may even speak out loud, working through tough times. I try not to fix anything while I’m rehearsing, but I might make a quick note on a pad.

I worry when I have to do recordings because an hour of recording could easily be 20+ hours of stuff. However, much of that 20 hours is also what I spend getting ready for a conference. So I’ll do that part and ignore any minor mistakes.

Just prepare as best you can, test equipment, and then pretend you are on stage.

If you really hate the recording, I might request that PASS delete it after the year of access for attendees. I may do that anyway.

There are three options people have noted that might help some of you. If you just need slides, you can record directly in PowerPoint. You can also record in Teams, if you have access to that platform. Zoom is a great tool, and you can do a limited recording for free. I have an account and happy to help record you remotely if you need it.

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