Simplest Example

Simplest Example

the essence of the thing

How Do I Find Speakers For My User Group?

I’m a Regional Mentor for PASS. At PASS Summit 2014, many of the chapter leaders in my region stated that they would get some value from having regular meetings with other chapter leaders in the area. We decided to kick things off with a meeting on the topic of speakers.

I broke down this topic into three main areas, and then on Monday night (12/15/2014), a group of chapter leaders from the region joined a Lync meeting to try to build a list of good suggestions in each of those main areas.


Booking Speakers

  • Post on Twitter that you’re looking for a speaker using the #SQLhelp hashtag.  Here’s an example

  • Ask people that have spoken at SQL Saturdays. For example, you can check the list of people that submitted sessions to SQL Saturday Madison 2014.
  • Ask Microsoft Evangelists, Technical Support Engineers, Premier Field Engineers to speak or to share some speaking leads. and are good links to find some of the people that can help you.
  • Check with local businesses that work with SQL Server to see if they would like to have someone from their company come talk to your group.
  • Did a local business recently complete a technical implementation that might be interesting to hear about?  There might be someone in that organization that would be happy to come talk about their completed project.
  • Contact other related user groups near you to find out if they have a lead for a speaker that you didn’t know about.
  • Check your list of sponsors or potential sponsors – one of them may have a speaker they can line up for you.
  • Microsoft MVPs are frequently looking for opportunities to speak.  You can search the list of active MVPs.
  • Volunteer for local events for other groups and use that as an opportunity to meet more people and ask them if they have leads for speakers.
  • Check with other groups to see if an attendee or leader in that group could come and speak at your group.
  • Check with local colleges to see if they have any instructors that could come to speak.


Growing Speaker Talent

  • Hold a SQL Shot or Lightning Talk segment, or try a full meeting made up of several small talks.
  • Have people give short talks based on what they saw at another event (such as a SQL Saturday – have people sign up in advance and be prepared to come talk for 10-15 minutes about a good session they saw).
  • If someone in the audience for another speaker has a lot of questions or comments , maybe the person with those questions can speak on another facet of that subject in a future meeting?
  • Look for people that are having new experiences (such as, upgraded to a new version of SQL shortly after release, installed the latest CTP, deep exploration into a new feature, cloud implementations) and see if they’d be willing to share what they’ve experienced and learned.
  • Encourage people to join in on a Speaker Idol competition.
  • If you notice someone with a good blog series on a topic, ask if they’d offer to come to speak to your group on that topic.


Alternatives to a Single In-Person Speaker on a SQL Server-related Topic at Your Regular Meeting Time

  • Can you find a presenter to speak remotely?
  • Have a panel discussion on a topic (ETL, BI, career-related, etc.)
  • Simulcast another group’s live meeting.
  • Consider a topic that isn’t technical or on SQL Server specifically.  Career development (resumes, career advancement, networking) and social media (how to best use twitter in your job) are good non-SQL topics.
  • Have a social event, either instead of in addition to the regular meeting.  The event could potentially extend to the families of members.  Picnics are good in warmer months.
  • Have a meeting at a different time – e.g., if you meet at night, have a lunch meeting instead.
  • Hold a troubleshooting session / SQL clinic.
  • Show a PASS Summit presentation video (a great last resort).

Do you have other ideas that are missing?  Add them to the comments and I’ll update this post.

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