I had a great time at the 2003 PASS Community Summit in Seattle. It was a valuable use of my time. But what should have started with a bang, instead began with a fizzle. I don't know Guy Brown, PASS President 2002-2003. He sounded like a nice guy, and I'm sure it was a lot of hard work to put together the summit. But here's a tip for next year: Do the Thank-You's and Awards some other time, like the second day of the 3-day main conference. DO NOT kick-off a conference that way again.
Here's what happened: Wednesday morning, 8:00 AM, Gordon Mangione, the Corporate Vice President for SQL Server at Microsoft, is scheduled as the keynote (kick-off) speaker to start the conference. Gordon obviously has a lot of experience doing presentations and everyone is waiting for him to show us some Yukon. I got up early and hustled myself downtown to meet some friends for breakfast and then we made sure we got good seats for the kickoff. The clock strikes 8:00, the lights dim, and out comes... Guy Brown to read his notes, thank Microsoft and Computer Associates for being founding sponsors, yada yada yada, present a couple of awards, and introduce the PASS Board of Directors, bringing them up on stage. What a let-down! I've been waiting for this conference for months! I did not go to any other technical conference all year. This was it! And now when the moment comes to get things going, I have to sit through 30 minutes of miscellaneous housekeeping. BAH!
Next time try this for your opening speech, "Ladies and gentlemen, let's get this event kicked off right away! Please help me welcome, all the way from Redmond, Washington (this should get a laugh here in Seattle) Microsoft's Vice President for SQL Server, Gordon Mangione!!!" And then get off stage. Let Gordon have the limelight. He has plenty of experience here, he can handle it. The excitement level will be much higher and everyone will have a good time. There will be plenty of time for you to come back the next day and give your thanks and awards. Whenever you're doing public speaking, start strong and end strong. Put your thank-yous in the middle and people might believe you actually mean them instead of "I have to get these niceties out of the way and then I can get into the real stuff I came for." By holding your thank-yous to the second day, you can make them even more meaningful by referencing something Gordon said on the previous day.
By delaying the start of the real conference 30 minutes, you showed a lack of respect to me for making the effort to get up early and get there on time. If someone else doesn't get there on time and misses the first few minutes of Gordon's talk, then tough. Maybe that'll motivate them to arrive on time for the next one. But don't penalize me by holding the show for them. Although I will thank you that when you started to introduce the PASS Board, I knew I'd have enough time to slip out and go to the bathroom before we'd get to the meat that I came for, so I did. And as far as I can tell, I didn't miss a thing. This was also confirmed by my friends who were sitting nearby. Next time, let's do better.
posted @ Monday, November 17, 2003 11:59 PM