PASS Update #22 (Speaker Bureau – Call for Comments)

One of my big projects this year is to build a speaker bureau, so in this post I’m going to write about some of the ideas I’m hoping to include – and then get some input from you!

The Goal: Build a centralized list of speakers that can used by Chapter leaders, community event leaders, and the Summit program committee when they need to find speakers, or are looking for speakers on a given topic.

For phase one I envision just putting together a list that we can share on sqlpass.org with Chapter leaders. We’ll need to get permission from speakers, but I don’t expect (?) too many objections. Here is what I’d like to share:

  • Name
  • LinkedIn URL
  • Twitter handle
  • Blog URL
  • Postal Code
  • Country
  • Available Presentation Titles
  • Available for LiveMeeting
  • Distance willing to travel

Maybe it’s just Excel to start with, and let chapter leaders do their own filtering. I can see them searching for interesting topics, or maybe asking their members to pick 12 sessions they would like to see and then seeing what turns out to me the most popular.

The first sticking point in the low tech implementation is controlling access to the speakers so they don’t get over run with requests (I can see a chapter inviting all the speakers!). Not a lot of cheap options:

  • Require requests to go through PASS HQ (staff intensive)
  • Have them connect via LinkedIn or Twitter, or search out an email from the blog url
  • Put an ‘email the speaker’ link on the site (requires some work, but not bad)

And that’s all for phase one. Get something usable about there, ask chapter leaders to submit local speakers not on the list, and see what happens.

Phase two is more ambitious and is a real software project. We take the information above, add to it any additional data points needed by the Summit or events like SQLSaturday, and create a management UI for the speakers (PASSPort remodeled, or different, have to see). Upload all the abstract history we have from the Summit as a starting point, and then ask speakers to populate abstracts for ones where we only have titles.

With that data in hand, we can then notify speakers any time an event is added to the PASS calendar. We’ll have to figure out the right level of filtering. Maybe it’s just a once a week digest of new events added that week and a switch to turn that on/off. We include in that email a link back to the speaker site where they can submit any or all of their abstracts to an event by just clicking – no retyping. What happens from there depends on the event type:

  • User groups: one email sent to leader per abstract submitted, link back to speaker profile too, plus contact info
  • SQLSaturday/other: automatically submit abstracts into the system (http post, web service, dropping an XML file on a share)
  • Summit: automatically post data into the program committee database for the Summit

I think that by itself adds a lot of value, but we can add more. We can add a UI for event leaders to proactively contact speakers (as in Phase 1), and we can ask them to post a summary of the evaluations received. That info in turn could be used by other leaders deciding on whether to invite someone – seeing a history of presentations and at least a leader evaluation would definitely be interesting. It also makes it possible for the Summit program committee to have a real view into a speakers participation in the SQL community. Certainly it shouldn’t be the only metric, but in my view we should be inviting speakers to the Summit that pay their dues in the minor leagues first!

I see having a public version of the speaker profile, something that speakers can share via blog and business card, and maybe even exposing that data as XML so that they can easily make viewable directly within their blog.

We’ll need a way for new speakers to sign up. What is the criteria, just wanting to? Maybe doing a local user group presentation is the cost of entry? It’s going to be very useful for the up and coming speaker who is trying to find a niche, they can look at whatever has out there across the whole community, and then find a place to start.

So…I’m serious about wanting feedback. This isn’t a detailed project plan, too early for that, but you’ve got a sense of where I’m going. I’ll take any feedback you have, but in particular I’d ask for your thoughts on:

  • As a speaker would you participate in this?
  • As a chapter/event leader, would you see this as adding usable value?
  • Does it make sense to look at Phase 2, or just go with Phase 1?
  • What could we do to make it more useful?
  • Is it worth spending 100-200 hours to build Phase 2, my really quick estimate of the time, and the associated $10k-$30k price?

8 thoughts on “PASS Update #22 (Speaker Bureau – Call for Comments)

  1. I think this is a great idea. For instnace, with all I have going on, I’m not even sure if submissions are open for this year’s event. It would be great to have a centeral location for this kind of thing.

    I don’t think you have to “go big” and spend all of the money on this right now, but you can start with a simple Wiki with limited authors. That might be more useful.

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  2. I think an implementation of Phase 1 would be very useful for Chapter leaders. Speaking as one of the co-leaders for the AppDev_VC, I know one of the hardest things to do is getting quality speakers – having your proposed list would be wonderful!

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  3. * As a speaker would you participate in this?

    I would participate in this type of program. Heck, right now the only presentations that I usually do is for the SQL Saturdays, mostly because they are easy to get involved with.

    * As a chapter/event leader, would you see this as adding usable value?

    N/A. I would think that they would find this useful though.

    * Does it make sense to look at Phase 2, or just go with Phase 1?

    I would think that Phase 2 is more important than Phase 1. As a matter of fact, I would probably only implement Phase 1 as a data gathering stage that is a lead in to Phase 2.

    * What could we do to make it more useful?

    I’m not certain here. Is the single purpose to be holding information relating to speakers and events, or would it expand beyond this? Would you put in event notifications for general participation (i.e. attendees as well as leaders and speakers)? How about for speakers (what some upcoming events will be in your area type report)? Would there be something to match criteria for speakers as well as for event leaders? Is this just a reporting site or would there be more of a mechanism for networking between the various participants (i.e. communications between event leaders and speakers)? Would this expand beyond those events held for SQL and into other user groups, code camps and conferences?

    * Is it worth spending 100-200 hours to build Phase 2, my really quick estimate of the time, and the associated $10k-$30k price?

    The real question here is not is it worth it, because in my mind it almost certainly is, but who is it worth it to? Is this something for PASS itself? That is what the title of the post infers. If so, this would be another thing that would help to tie the organization to the community beyond the summit.

    (I think you know my feelings on having the board decide what PASS is or is not as it relates to a community outside of the summit.)

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  4. Eric, I think we try to put in enough reporting/searching/notifying that everyone finds it helpful without being intrusive. I don’t have any plans to go beyond events that a SQL person would find interesting. For example, I’d call it fair and interesting to load Code Camps as they usually have some SQL content. Maybe we can open it up more and let the speakers decide by category; Chapters, SQL events, Misc.

    On the networking piece…dont know. Communication definitely, with the ability to prevent spam, but I like LinkedIn, not sure we could build something better. Open to discussion on that (and most everything else too!)

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  5. Andy,

    Great start on getting something off the ground. I think a quick Phase 1 approach to collecting and sharing speakers information would be a great start in making something positive for all.

    As for your concern over speakers being spammed by lots of chapters I’m not sure speakers would consider this spam, I guessing most local speaker type might welcome the flattery just being asked to speak. I suppose speakers on the list do need a method of being removed from the list. You might also need to have a way to exclude old topic information that becomes obsolete due to technology marching forward.

    We should most definitely encourage chapter leaders to provide quality speakers to the list.

    I have not thought much about the list being a resource to speakers. I know speakers are sometimes looking for speaking opportunities. I think PASS could provide some kind of calendar/schedule of PASS related events, the summit, SQL Saturday, Virtual Chapters, and regular chapters for speakers. But, how far do we take that? Do we start helping speakers locate all speaking opportunities, even those that are not associated with PASS?

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  6. Greg, we already have an event calendar of sorts on sqlpass.org, but I think we can do more with it. On helping speakers locate opportunites, I vote yes. If a speaker wants to visit a Code Camp or other event to improve their skills and/or reach a non-PASS type market I see that as entirely positive, no downside I can think of.

    We can ultimately go further by loading up speaking resources, online classes, professional evaluations of recorded presentations, maybe more!

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