As of today the PASS Summit 2015 Call for Speakers is officially open! You can submit your sessions from right now until 9:00 PM Pacific Time on March 15, 2015. If you’ve had even the slightest desire to speak at PASS Summit, you should be submitting an abstract this year. Here’s why:
Because right now, you can
First and foremost, you only get the opportunity to submit sessions once per year, for about a month. Yes, it’s eight months ahead of time, but that’s a good thing. You’ll want to take advantage of all that time and perfect your slide decks, demos, and presentation techniques. If you don’t submit, you’ll spend that time wishing that you had, and telling yourself “I’ll do it next year…” and then we’ll have this same conversation a year from now. Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This is a shot. Take it.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Let’s hop in our time machines and travel back to my high school years. Instead of talking about submitting conference sessions, we’re going to talk about asking dates to a dance. I was single for 99% of high school and hence didn’t have a girlfriend as an “automatic” date. Instead I was always asking someone if they would like to join me for the evening, and of course it was stressful. Thankfully, my best friend was always there to reassure me by asking “What’s the worst that can happen?”
In the case of a high school dance, the worst that can happen is that the prospective date says no and never speaks to you again. If they were that insulted by such an offer and responded in that way, they obviously weren’t worth asking in the first place. This of course never happened. The far more realistic worst-case scenario is that they say no, and I still go to the dance anyway and have a great time with my friends who may or may not have dates.
Zipping back to the present, the worst that can happen here is that your submission is not accepted, and you still go to PASS Summit anyway and have a great time with all your friends who may or may not be presenting.
People want to hear your take on a topic
Really, they do. A common belief is that PASS Summit is the place to go to hear brain-melting half-day sessions on incredibly complex topics (yes I am thinking of you, Bob Ward). And of course you can find those sessions there, but for every presentation like that, there are easily 10 others talking about far less fancy (but equally important) things. Topics like backups and recovery, indexing, and query tuning may not be sexy and those features certainly don’t have cool code names, but they can make a difference to far more people.
We all work in different environments and use SQL Server differently. Your presentation on backups along with your stories and anecdotes will be completely different from mine, and that’s a wonderful thing. Never think that you can’t submit a topic because “they talked about it last year” or “that’s someone else’s thing to talk about.” Nobody owns the exclusive right to speak about any feature of SQL Server. Attendees can learn from your experiences just as well as they can learn from anyone else’s. People want to hear your take on a topic. Don’t be afraid to make it your own when crafting your abstract.
Even if you aren’t selected, you will learn something
A rejected abstract isn’t a failure, it’s an opportunity to improve and submit a better one the next time around. I’d venture a guess that most people submitting abstracts to major conferences for the first time don’t get accepted. There’s no shame there; you will have some great company. Make this the year that you submit and don’t get accepted, so you’ll be able to improve and get selected next year!
Best of luck on all your submissions this year!