Volunteer Strategy for SQLSaturday Orlando

I’ve been busy with other stuff lately and haven’t been able to put much time into this yet, but capturing a few thoughts from the past couple weeks:

  • I want to ask everyone else on the event team for their volunteer needs. Get them thinking of where volunteers can help. Then I need a bunch of information – how many, what time, what will they do, is a must do task or a nice to have? Ideally this drives them to think about what they can delegate before/during/after the event.
  • I want to write down clear task descriptions/duration. What does a room monitor do? Where do they report? Who do they call if a speaker doesn’t show, projector doesn’t work?
  • I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’d like to add to that something about why the task is important to the event (why do we need room monitors?) and maybe – this is harder – how to benefit from it (meeting a speaker, seeing how the event works from the inside, ?)

Scott Gleason mentioned at SQLSaturday Jacksonville the idea of different color shirts for the organizers so that anyone can say “find someone with a red shirt” or whatever.  I like that idea. Ideally attendees can clearly identify a volunteer and a leader, and it even helps volunteers find a leader if they need help.

I also want to take a look at whether hiring a couple temps for the day would smooth out the logistics. We do pretty well in Orlando, but that first hour is still intense. More volunteers is one option, but maybe just paying for help wouldn’t be terrible.

Still More Notes on the SQLSaturday Web Site–Registration

I’ll start by saying the intent of the notes isn’t to complain, at least too much. I’m looking for opportunities. It looks far nicer than v1/v2, but the functionality shown still tends to be a page per table/entity. I look at the app and think we could easily do 2x as much to engage potential attendees. Not all these ideas will be worth doing, but ideas tend to drive other ideas. The web site is a vertical app – make it a rich one.

I registered for SQLSaturday Orlando to see how it worked. The top part was confirming/updating my contact info, that part looked good (except it didn’t ask for LinkedIn info – why not?). The second part of the form has more questions. I think it’s a good start, but I’d like to see some tweaks:

  • “Volunteer at event” is too ambigous – what am I signing myself up for? I think (thinking as a the volunteer coordinator this year) that I’d rather it said “Notify me about volunteer opportunities at the event” or “May Volunteer at event” and regardles of wording, add the “I” (like the one after the “sponsor may contact me directly”) that explains in 2-3 sentences that we have a range of volunteer tasks and that aren’t committing to a task yet).  At this stage I want the biggest possible list of those that are interested even though I’ll mention the volunteer tasks in at least one email to the “all” list.
  • The info button about sponsors doesn’t work. This is important to fix. Why should I say yes? Does that mean they will call me?
  • Want to see a chapter created? Do they know what chapters we have? Not sure this question fits here
  • Post event social. Would be nice to have a link right there if the location is known (and I get that if may not yet be known)
  • Are we doing anything with First SQLSaturday? Does it tag their name badge (which would be good) or it just for the organizers (what do we do with the info?

Related to this, I’d love to see something added at the top about “this is the 23rd SQLSaturday you’ve registered for”. Or “this is the 9th consecutive time you’re registered for SQLSaturday Orlando”.

I think the page looks good overall, but let’s do just a little more with it.



I clicked ok after entering the captcha, which seems to be case sensitive. I think we should note that right next to it. Then I was sent to the lunch payment form (which I forgot to capture). It wasn’t clear to me if I had to do this now or how to opt out. I just registered for South Fla but they aren’t charging the fee, so I didn’t get the page. I’d like to see an option for “I’ll decide later”. Deciding now would be easier if I could get details on what food would be served right there on that page.

I then received this email:





I think that might be the original template (and if it is, then I’m about to complain about my own work). I liked that it quickly, seconds after the OK. It’s functional, but we can do more!

  • Event specific logo
  • Link to the site (the logo isn’t linked)
  • The twitter hashtag/link
  • “Team SQLSaturday” is nice shorthand, but it would be interesting to see the names of the key organizers, make it a little less anonymous
  • Link to the iCalendar – we want it on their calendar (I wonder if the ical gets generated by the site now?)
  • I don’t see that event leaders can edit it. Not sure it’s important that they can, but it wouldn’t hurt anything either.

I can think of at least one data driven idea we might add to it – if we see that more than one person from a non-generic domain registered last year, we could tailor a sentence about that. “Please remind your colleagues about this event. Last year 0 other people from the blahblah.domain attended SQLSaturday Orlando – lets increase that this year!

More Notes on the Updated SQLSaturday Web Site

A few things I had sitting in my draft folder:

  • Privacy policy has not updated since May 2009. I’d like to see it updated and make sure it clearly addresses raffle tickets/sharing with sponsors, connection to the local group.
  • I’d like to see SSL everywhere. No reason to not do this
  • Reserving a date for an event doesn’t require a login? Seems like it should
  • http://www.sqlsaturday.com/OrganizeanEvent.aspx. Clicking organize event takes you to page where you pick reserve or organize, seems like extra page/step, could be simplified

Make Sure You’re Eligible to Vote in the 2015 PASS Election.

Per the post from Bill Graziano, if you want to vote in the 2015 election you have to make sure your PASS profile shows “eligible”. That means you need to login to sqlpass.org. I know you may not remember your password or your user name – spend 5 minutes to figure it out and get it reset, then update your profile. It’s a good time to review your email preferences too!

Come Speak at SQLSaturday Orlando on October 10, 2015

It’s five months until SQLSaturday Orlando, have you thought about your speaking plans for October? We’d love to have you come talk to our attendees! We have 50+ slots we need to fill and we try to build a schedule with a wide assortment of topics and skill levels.

Here are my unofficial (because I don’t build the schedule) tips on how to get selected here in Orlando:

  • Submit early. Helps us market the event when we can talk about some early selections.
  • Submit something you’re passionate about. We appreciate having a few of your presentations to pick from, but we really want the one that has you on fire to talk about! Tell us which one that is and we’ll see if we can work it in.
  • Make the title(s) great, but not too cute
  • Tell us if you’re a first time speaker (because we like first time speakers)

Did I mention the weather in October is really nice in Orlando?

Notes From SQLSaturday Jacksonville #391

Beautiful weather for a SQLSaturday! Everything went well, as expected but always appreciated. Just a few notes on this one:

  • They had one person dedicated to the donuts/coffee area, cleaning up empty boxes and helping point out which boxes had what kind. Nice service. Might be interesting to label the boxes to reduce the open/look/go to next box shuffle, but still like having someone there. Might be separate from the coffee role for us in Oralndo.
  • Registration moved inside to the back. Worked ok, but got crowded. They had the usual table for people to cut raffle tickets and it made me wish – again – for an alternative that is still analog. Badge swiping just doesn’t engage attendees the way a raffle ticket does, or at least hasn’t so far.
  • Good signs, except for the one room located away from the main area
  • Doors had a sign for each session with abstract and speaker pic/info. I like this better than what we do in Orlando, just a list of sessions/name.
  • Speaker gift was a professionally taken photo. Good/creative/useful.
  • I finally noticed (re-noticed?) that evals can be done online. Where do those go? Are they anonymous? Think that should be stated. Also one question was awkward  “Did you enjoy the session?(1 – Yes, 2 – No, 3 – Sort of)”. I sorta don’t like that scoring.
  • They had real food (in addition to pizza) for lunch and I think it was the first time. The wait was a little longer than I’d like, but not terrible. I heard really good comments on the food, no complaints on the wait. I hope they repeat next year.
  • I had 30+ attend my session on learning plans, Great audience, good discussions.
  • I enjoyed Geoff Hiten on the cloud. Really good world view of capabilities/drivers.

Notes on the Updated SQLSaturday Web Site

I’m looking over the new SQLSaturday site as a consumer for the first time, seeing a few things:

  • I don’t see a place to find the preferred hotel? I found that useful in the past.
  • I really, really wish seminar registration had been baked in. It’s still ad hoc. Seems like this should be top of the list of things to add.
  • The scrolling banner for sponsors is really nice.
  • “Want to speak at this event” is still on the event home page. Don’t know if that is something that can be removed/turned off. It’s clearly too late to submit a session for this event.
  • The separation of tracks from rooms is interesting. I can see it being useful because tracks don’t always fill cleanly, but I do still prefer that room = track to the extent possible. Nice to just settle in. Maybe that’s bad, better to have people moving?
  • I wish clicking on a session also showed the other sessions in that track (or “sessions like this one”). Download link is obvious, that’s good.
  • I really wish speaker details showed inline for the session info. Clicking through sucks.
  • Speaker page seems like it could use a little more work. Not bad, just seems like it needs more.
  • Site seems slow in places.
  • NOTHING about Guidebook that I can see. Needs to be on the page at least!
  • Location map way down the page seems lost (at least for Jax, it comes after the seminar stuff)
  • Event news is blank. This was my attempt way back when to do faux blogging, I don’t know that it gets used? Drive usage, or maybe remove.
  • I don’t find the session glimpse compelling as formatted, but I like the idea. Maybe show more of a single session with the speaker photo. Make it about people too.
  • The networking page is gone! Or I don’t see it. I really miss that, why is it gone?

Headed to Jacksonville for SQLSaturday

I’m actually half way there as I write this, stopped to stretch and get something to drink, start thinking about what I want to think about during the event. What’s to think about? Here’s my list so far:

  • Remember to meet 3 new people. Easy to forget to do this.
  • Starting at the speaker party tonight, pay a lot of attention to volunteers and their tasks. I’m leading volunteers for SQLSaturday Orlando this year, so I need ideas and more ideas on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Ask Devin about what they are doing to maintain their relationship with UNF
  • And not least, deliver a successful presentation!