In addition to being at at #40 as an attendee, I also had Don Gabor there to take a look at our networking efforts, presentation styles, and more, in part to help us do SQLSaturday better right now, in part so that he can join our SQLSaturday meeting at the PASS Summit this fall (Monday morning) to help us work on it as a group there. To do that, it had to be more than me just describing the event, so Don participated as speaker and attendee.
Only a few notes back so far, but perhaps interesting (these all from me talking to Don as we had time):
- Noted that he felt the pressure to try to deliver a lot in his one hour presentation. Lesson is we need to coach more to delivering a realistic amount, not measuring success by numbers of words spoken.
- Keynotes are hard to get right for a variety of reasons. In this case the logistics of sound and seating definitely made it a little harder for Brent & Tim to be as effective for those in the back as they were in the front. As we chatted on this, I think important that we distinguish between ‘opening remarks’ and a true keynote, and if doing the latter, start working on gathering lessons to share to both event leaders and speakers. What works? How long? Depend on AV or just talk?
- Said he definitely saw the engineering/literal type behavior in conversation, which was often display as having to explain each step along the way rather than being able to only hit the useful highlights on the way to the real point. (Note that is my phrasing, not his!)
- Found attendees to be intelligent and quick to learn (not unexpected, but reassuring)
- We had some struggles with the seating arrangement at the speaker dinner, Don says to try for optimum, but be prepared to deal with it as it is. (I only did so so, had one whole row of people I just couldn’t easily reach, didn’t try hard enough).
- Thinks we need to do more with networking, but in a way that doesn’t force people. Likes our networking page for the event. But what? Go back and work on ideas.
- Don says he changes conversation style based on his assessment of the style of the other person. My own technique is simpler, I’ll introduce myself and based on feedback it may only be a couple minute conversation or it could be much longer. Sometimes you can tell that they are nervous, busy, unsure, etc, etc, and so for me the better strategy is to not push it, and wait for another time to try to establish deeper contact. I think his way is more sophisticated, maybe I (we) get there, but I have to work hard at it as is, so having some rules removes some stress for me.
- He noted that many people are intimidated by social situations, and that to grow attendance we should understand that and work on it, ideally by trying to get someone who is ‘sold’ on the event to bring someone new each time. Reduces the stress of the new person by a lot, something I think we can all understand. How do we promote that? It means more than saying ‘bring a co-worker’, maybe more ‘10 reasons why they might be saying no’.
Over the next couple months we’ll try to come up with a few ideas to test and if they work, try to embed deeper in the event DNA.