SQL Saturday – session selection process

SQL Saturday session selection process

We want to be totally clear with everyone interested in speaking and those kind enough to submit a session to us for SQL Saturday Exeter on how we consider the submissions and the process that we apply to select the sessions that we want for our conference.

SQL Saturday Exeter has, at the heart of its existence, some simple but important goals and we try to select the sessions that we think will best help us reach those goals.

Goals of SQL Saturday Exeter

Goal 1 – We want SQL Saturday Exeter to be the best SQL Server conference running in the South West. To meet this goal we want variety of sessions that cater for attendees of all levels of skill and experience and to provide them with advice and guidance that they can implement easily to make their jobs easier and increase their skill levels.

Goal 2 – We want to enrich the SQL Community in the UK by encouraging new speakers into our conference schedule. We have a history of picking sessions that are from a mixture of new and experienced speakers. We will try to continue this theme each year.

Goal 3 – There is no escaping the fact that SQL Saturday Exeter costs a lot to run and the South West user group needs funds to keep going throughout the year. The Training Day sessions are not free to attend and the funds we receive are used to contribute to the costs we incur.

Selection criteria

All submissions should be sent in via the SQL Saturday website by the deadline clearly explaining what your session is about and covering the details requested on the website.

All submissions received on or before the closing date will be considered.

We have limited space so it is sadly likely that some submissions will be rejected.

We want to provide a range of subjects for attendees to choose from so it is likely that submissions on a similar topic will not all be chosen unless they are likely to attract delegates of different skill levels.

If we can’t clearly see what the delegates will gain from attending your session it will make it hard for us to pick your session.

No one person makes the decision – SQL Saturday Exeter committee is made up of SQL South West user group members and there is much discussion and consideration put into the session selection.

Before session information is reviewed by the committee, speaker names are removed and replaced by an ID together with a few relevant details (such as if the speaker is a new speaker, if they are an international traveller, if they are a Training Day speaker). This means we can approach the selection process knowing that we will only pick one session from each speaker but also remove any bias there might be if the speaker name is known. We also have useful information to try to balance up veteran vs new speakers and meet the goals of our event.

A vote will decide the outcome where there is not clear consensus of opinion. Truly, this process takes hours and decisions are not made lightly – we take this part very seriously as we value your time creating and presenting the sessions highly as well as the delegates time when they visit us.

Some sessions will be marked as ones that we would like to have as standby sessions in-case, on the day we have a speaker unable to give their session for some reason.

The process

Once the decisions have been made all submissions will get a response.

Those that are successful will hear from us first, by the date stated on the website. If those speakers are still interested in running their session then we can start work to build our schedule and make the necessary arrangements for this.

It is possible that we will respond to a submission with a suggestion that we try something different – a half-day session or a double session perhaps. If the speaker is interested in this then that is great, we are building variety and meeting our goals.

Speakers who submitted sessions that we have chosen as stand-by sessions will be advised of our selection and if they are willing to bring their session with them to the event, just in case we need them. The confidence that having these sessions available gives to event organisers should not be underestimated. Knowing there is a good backup you can rely on should be familiar state to a lot of data professionals!

Finally, we respond to all other submissions to confirm that whilst we really appreciated the offer we would not be running that session this time. It’s the toughest set of emails to send, all we can offer is our gratitude at the effort spent and encourage people to keep submitting sessions. There are user groups and other conferences taking place all over the world and they need new speakers with new content all the time. Please keep submitting and you’ll be included sooner or later.

If you have any questions or comments about this process then we’d love to hear from you, please contact us via jonathan@sqlsouthwest.co.uk.