Andy Warren mentions in his Closing Out PASS 2009 post, that he “almost wish[es] for a closing session”. I agree that it would be nice to have some sort of wrap-up session, because it does feel a bit awkward to just fade back to normal life after such a fantastic event.
Oh sure, I take part in what appears to be turning into an annual tradition with a few folks where we are sure to get together for dinner on the last night of the main conference, and I want to keep doing that, but just walking out of the last breakout session at the convention center still feels like a bit of a let-down. Maybe a closing session could include some highlight video from the main conference, and perhaps this is where the new board members are introduced and there is some sort of passing of the baton from the outgoing board, or at least the executive committee to the incoming board or executive committee. Or maybe that’s too awkward since several people will be on both sides, it could be just the board members who are no longer serving handing over portfolios to those who are newly coming aboard. Or maybe just outgoing President to Incoming President. You get the idea. Do something that is symbolic of the changing of the guard. This would even be a great time for the incoming President to give a brief talk about what the Board hopes to accomplish the next year.
To add value and keep people from just disappearing early, maybe there could be an appearance by some special guest. In the past, I would have lobbied for Bill Gates. Maybe it should be Ballmer. Heck, this is the largest gathering of people around SQL Server, which is a major product for Microsoft, you’d think he might want to come by and say, “Thanks” to the community. Maybe this could also be the time when the winners of some of the vendor-sponsored drawings would occur rather than trying to squeeze them into a 15-minute coffee-break between sessions held two floors away.
The Summit starts off with a decent Welcome Reception to get people in the mood, and then Microsoft brings out a big name the next morning for the opening Keynote. It doesn’t need to be long; people are tired from a full week, and many want to get on with their dinner plans, so maybe it’s just a 30-minute deal. Don’t make it another full reception that competes with attendees’ own social plans, but make it more than a “That’s all folks…”. There has to be something that could be done to put a nice cap on things at the end.
And we might even find that with something like that to keep people around and interested to the very end, that attendance at the last breakout session on the last day may be stronger, too.