Observations of a SQL Saturday Speaker

I enjoy speaking at SQL Saturday events every chance I get. I’ve spoken at well over a dozen of them by now, both in the U.S. and abroad. Every SQL Saturday is different, and that’s part of the charm of course. Organizers (all volunteers) work hard to make sure everything runs smoothly. Still, on occasion, problems can arise, and in some cases, these are problems that can be avoided. For you SQL Saturday organizers out there planning your next event, here are some tips based on personal experience that can help ensure success:

  • Notify speakers of agenda changes
    • On occasion, the agenda needs to be changed, which is understandable. However, if this happens, always be sure to notify the affected speakers (or all speakers). This is especially important when the changes are last-minute. Don’t assume speakers double-check the web-site to look for last-minute changes the day before your event
  • Don’t assume all speakers are local
    • When providing directions, don’t use general references like “the east entrance of the parking garage.” Out-of-towners tend to be directionally challenged!
  • Include proper location details
    • Be as specific as possible and include all relevant details, such as the floor, when pertinent. If the event is being hosted at a university, don’t just advertise the general address for the entire campus; specify the exact building address or building name.
  • Provide organizer contact phone number
    • Having no one to call in the event of a problem right before (or during) the event can pile more stress on an already stressful situation. Make sure that every speaker has a name and phone number they can contact if necessary.
  • Don’t assume every shows up in the morning
    • Very often, SQL Saturday signs are placed near and around the venue. These signs are very helpful, so they shouldn’t be taken down in the middle of the day. Some attendees (and speakers) make only be able to arrive for the latter part of the day, and they also need to benefit from the signs.


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