I think it was because I had just received an email about sponsoring a SQLSaturday that had me thinking about it on the drive to the office today. It’s not easy to walk up to a table and get an understanding of what a product does beyond the sound bite – you really need a demo, and demos don’t scale at the table. We’ve tried lunch time demos and dedicated tracks with some (limited) success. Lunch time seems like a good idea, but it’s hard to get people to get in line, get food, then go back to a room – lounging and talking seems like the right thing to do at lunch. Sponsors want to explain, attendees want to understand/learn, where to find the time? How to do it better?
We eat outside in Orlando, tables and people on the grass, nice slow lunch. That had me thinking about the Friday night movie in Clearwater. They put up a big inflatable screen and show a movie on it. Why couldn’t we do something similar? Get some 5 minute demos or presentations from the vendors put onto a DVD, kick it off once most people had their food, and then talk or watch as everyone wanted to, sorta doing both.
Of course this only works if the sponsors make it interesting. Do a skit,do a useful demo,put the company owner up there talking about why he makes product x. Engage us. Tell us why you’re passionate about your solution, the problems you saw that you built it to fix, just make it interesting.
We can’t get that from the sponsors if we don’t provide a forum for it, and if we don’t demand it. Staffing a table is easy. Engaging is harder. Maybe we should offer discounts for the next year for the most engaged sponsor this year.
Still, an inflatable screen at lunch time, we gotta try that once – Karla, you reading this?