A topic that came from my recent post, SQL Saturday Speakers – Thought when scheduling, was regarding the topic of speakers that submit abstracts to multiple SQL Saturdays that fall on the same day. Is that ok for them to do? If they did submit multiple same day events, why didn’t they pick mine over the other?
Let’s get one thing out of the way before diving too far into this. Some speakers have an ego the size of the Rockies. Some just don’t care and won’t work with you. You will run into those in any community, career or business. Some people do these events to simply throw the check next to another event they did or for another reason all together. Is there anything wrong with that? Not entirely. I see it as, if a speaker simply wants to speak at 30 SQL Saturdays a year to better their profile, that’s fine with me. They are still helping the community by speaking at the event and at their expense (usually).
The one thing that I don’t think is a good habit is, a lot of speakers will submit to almost every SQL Saturday that is setup so they can maximize the selection. Undoubtedly, they will be selected at some point to speak at two events on the same day. Now they have to make a choice of which to accept. The choice, even if they don’t think so, can have some bad rippling effects through the organizer lands and cause some very large headaches at the same time. However, is that their fault or both organizers and speakers faults?
Creating a schedule takes some effort. Making it a good schedule takes even more effort. If you put all that effort into a schedule and one or two speakers drop simply because they submitted to too many events, it can take a great schedule and turn it upside down and mangled to the point it isn’t all that great any longer. So the fact that some speakers decide they need to optimize the chances for being selected by submitting to any and all SQL Saturday events falls on the speaker and the organizer(s). Speakers, IMO, really shouldn’t do it and organizers should take it into account when scheduling. If they know someone does this or put the work into investigating other possible events that speaker may have to choose from on the same day, a secondary or backup should be in place already. Or, just don’t use them at all. Remember, SQL Saturday is a great combination of seasoned speakers, local speakers and first time speakers. There are usually more options and doing this before setting the schedule and notifying the speakers is much easier than after the fact.
How to deal with this and keep it friendly
Schedule creators: when you are creating your schedule, take a few minutes to check each speaker and abstract you selected. Go out to the SQLSaturday.com site and check to see if they submitted to other events. If they did, send them an email and let them know you selected them for your event. Ask them if they will commit and remove their submissions to the other events. It only takes a few minutes and it would save a lot of frustration in changing a schedule that has been publicized already. Remember, even attendees base their day off our schedules and some don’t even get to the event until the session they want to attend is about to start.
Problem has been defined and the solution presented!
You like that event more?
I’m not going to go into if a speaker selects the largest venue when this happens too much. If they do, they do. Remember, they are doing it for free so the ROI (return of investment) in a larger venue may be important and there is nothing wrong with getting some ROI back in that way by count of attendance and sponsor exposure. You can’t fault a sponsor for selecting a 500 attendee event over a 100. ROI!!! So you cannot bash the speaker for it either. Even if some speakers in the community don’t entirely agree with someone thinking they are larger than life and a large event means more than a smaller event.
Again, some may do this and we’ve already given a solid reasoning to it. Be prepared if you call someone out on it. There are some speakers in this community that fall completely in the, “I’m doing this to help the community and no other motive”. It may simply be because one event is more accessible due to funds or their company will pay for them to go due to market areas. We’re all professional so show some professionalism in any situation. See a problem and find a solution. We waste so much time otherwise and as SQL Server pros, we already know optimization is the key to success.
Potential to be a better speaker
Something that we, speakers, could work on is letting organizers know of the potential issue. Most organizers are well known and easily approached. In a lot of cases, you already have them on IM, Twitter or email. Let them know you’ve submitted to two events on the same day and one of the events is theirs. It doesn’t mean they won’t select you as a speaker. It means, if anything, they may say right away, “Yes, I’m putting you on my schedule so can we commit it”. In this case we’ve gone through the same solution but reversed it and come to the same friendly conclusion; no one got upset!