The PASS Summit 2015 Speaker list has been released and I wanted to congratulate everyone that was accepted. It’s a great honor and I’m proud to be on the list once again.
I also apologize to everyone that submitted and wasn’t accepted. I hadn’t planned on submitted, but part of my job is speaking to the community. I was asked to submit sessions, which I did. Of the three I submitted, one was accepted.
I saw a post from Mark Broadbent (@retracement) today that talks about his submission experience this year. He’s spoken at the Summit before the Rally, and numerous SQL Saturdays. He’s got experience and success as a speaker. It’s hard to call a single session selection a failure, and I hope Mark doesn’t feel that way.
It’s Not You
One of the things I’d like to say is that if you submitted a session and weren’t picked, it’s not necessarily you. This is certainly true for the Summit, but the same thing can apply at SQL Saturdays or other events.
I’m sure you doubt I know what I’m talking about, and that might be true, but I certainly understand how you feel. I’ve received two rejections this year from events that didn’t like my submissions. It’s tough, and it can be a blow to your self-confidence, but it’s not necessarily you.
Don’t get me wrong. It could be. Please solicit feedback from the organizers and friends about your submissions. There might be things that you are doing poorly, and if so, you should learn to do a better job at writing abstracts, and a better job of speaking. I regularly ask people what they thought of my talks, and I’m happy to go watch and give feedback to others as well.
I’m sure some of you have heard of, or seen spoofs, of medical school grading where professors start a test letting students know that there will be x As, y Bs, z Cs, i Ds, and j Fs. In other words, a forced ranking where you must compete in order to succeed. That’s the PASS Summit submissions, but in a more complex scenario.
You might submit a great abstract, on an outstanding topic. Maybe you’re a SQL Server memory guru and you want to put in a 400 level internals talk on memory pressure. Great. But if Adam Machanic submits on a similar topic, I bet you don’t get picked.
In the various areas, sessions are ranked, and no matter how good a job you do, it’s possible you’ll get beat out by someone else. That’s not to say it’s hopeless. I believe that some slots are reserved for first time speakers (to the Summit, not in general), but it does mean that your abstract needs to be good AND not have great competition in your topic area.
Submitting to the Summit and getting picked is a bit of a lottery. It helps to speak at multiple other events (user groups, SQL Saturdays, etc), and get some reputation, but it’s also important to pick topics that will be both interesting and don’t have lots of competition. It also becomes important to write a great abstract, and if you need help, read Adam Machanic’s post on this topic.
Above all, don’t get discouraged. Get help in putting your submission together. Ask friends, ask colleagues, ask your family and read what others have done. Pick a topic area you’re comfortable with and try to find a niche that minimizes competition. Above all, make sure you get feedback from PASS and try to use that to tailor the next submission.
You can do it. We see more and more new speakers every year, and you have a better chance if you think about how to best present yourself to the world.