You know who you are. You have a presentation idea that has been percolating since last October. You have asked friends and coworkers if it is a good idea. You may have presented it at 10 SQL Saturdays to thunderous appreciation. You may have even tried to submit last year but was turned down. You have this abstract written and may have even entered it on the Call for Speaker’s page and you think the idea is great, but you just aren't sure that the abstract is good enough. Who can you turn to?
PASS has a service that can help you take the concern about the quality of your abstract out of the equation. It is called Abstract Coaching and it is completely free for any PASS member thinking about submitting for the Summit.
You fill out the Microsoft Word form you can find here on the PASS website that has almost everything that your Summit Submission will have:
- Title - A name to tell the potential attendee what the session is about
- Length – The length of your session. Whether you have a 75 minute General Session or are trying for a Full Day Pre-Conference session, we will review your abstract.
- Level - How technical will the audience need to be to attend this season
- Track - The major area of concentration for the session, such as DBA, developer, BI, etc.
- Prerequisites * - Here you will list what you expect attendees to your session to already understand before attending. Every session needs these unless a person who wanders off the street could attend and understand what is going on.
- Goals * - 3 big concepts you are trying to get across to the attendee to help the selection committee really understand what your plan is for the presentation
- Abstract - A short paragraph or so that explains the session in enough detail that the selection committee and prospective attendees can understand what they will be getting. This along with the title will be the primary "advertisement" for the session.
Note: Items with an * are for the selection committee only, and will not be shared with the attendees.
The document will also list some basic instructions and restrictions. It might seem like a lot to fill out, but going through the exercise will help you flesh out your idea and give the commenters more understanding about what you are wanting to say. After filling out the form, simply email it in to the address included in the form and a few days later you will have an analysis of your submission.
One thing you may notice is that your name and bio are not included in the coaching session document. The service is more or less anonymous, with the coaching team leader being the only person who will see your name connected to your submission. Your abstract will be sent anonymously to a commenter and returned the same way. The entire team is under NDA about the details of the names and details of your abstract as well.
There are a few restrictions to be aware of. The service offers no guarantees or promises of being selected, just one honest opinion of your abstract in terms of:
- Grammar - Misspellings and other poor writing skills have tanked more great submission concepts than speaking skills ever will.
- Possible Technical Concerns - Your abstract will be reviewed by someone who is a good writer, but also is a speaker and leader in technology as well.
- Cohesion of the Submission Parts - Here we are looking at how well all of the parts of your abstract fit together. Quite often, a submission will have a title like "How to Do X" but will not even mention what X is in the goals or abstract leading to great confusion about what the presentation would be about.
- Pretty much anything else the reviewer wants to share - Commenters will do their best to give you any comments about anything that is not out of bounds (mostly things like how likely you are to get chosen).
In the end, the Coaching team’s goal is to help you as much as possible, so you can worry about what most database professionals worry about most: the concept, the demos, and not oversleeping on the day of your presentation.