Focusing on SQL Server and Microsoft BI Technologies
Abstract Tips for PASS Summit 2020
Last year was a
pretty dismal year for me from a speaking standpoint, while I did have some
success early on like a sold out Azure Data Factory Precon at SQLBits, for a
variety of reasons the remainder of the year was less than stellar. I ended up
missing a few events due to weather, not getting sessions submitted in time,
spacing out on other events entirely.
All of these factors
coupled with not getting picked for some of the larger events that I submitted
too was a bit disheartening. Historically, I have had good luck getting
accepted at events and while I don't expect to get selected, rejection is a
cruel and bitter mistress.
As I started thinking about this, I realized
that I have just kind of been coasting by and getting sloppy with my abstract
creation and submission process.
In previous years I
served on the PASS Program Committee. So I have seen a fair amount of abstracts
in my time, In order to help prevent you from falling into this trap and with
PASS 2020 abstract submission season upon us, I present without fanfare and in
no particular order my tips for writing better abstracts:
keeps on slipping
Allow yourself plenty of time to submit
One of the worst
things you can do is try to create and submit an abstract in the last two hours
before the call for speakers ends (ask me how I know). This will never end
well, and wastes your time and the time of the poor souls on the abstract
review team. If you are predisposed to procrastination, setup a calendar
reminder with the event submission deadline.
hate the player hate the game
Know the rules
Sadly, most events
think they are special snowflakes and often have their own rules about theabstract and title length as well as the
fields of information they think are relevant (a note to organizers: just use
sessionize your crappy home brew session submission app might have been cool in
2008 and but time has moved on). So before you even start writing your
abstract, understand the additional information required, and the length
restrictions. Nothing is more frustrating then writing a clever title or a
super detailed abstract only to get denied entry due to a character
fresh and so clean
Keep it simple stupid
Avoid heavy markup
and formatting stick to basics as these can often get mangled or stripped
entirely during the submission process often leaving your abstract
incomprehensible. Also if you have been resubmitting the same abstract to many
events, try to see if you can update it a bit or customize it for the event. No
one is interested in hearing about the new features released in SQL server 2012
when it is 2019 2020.
After writing the
abstract set it aside for 24hrsand come
back to it. Do this before asking others to review it. After you feel like it
is ready to submit, see if you can find another person to review it. It can be
helpful if you can get a review from someone who is an expert in the area to
ensure you are covering relevant topics and that your abstract is the best kind
of correct (Technically Correct™). It is also wise to have someone from your
target audience or with little exposure to the topic review it. This will
ferret out any assumptions that might have been made and possibly help you
determine if the topic is relevant to the audience you are targeting.
Once you get the
feedback, incorporate it. Next give it one more final review before submitting.
It can also be helpful to read it aloud. I suspect many of you have small
children, pets, or house plants that would love the privledge of hearing your
abstract brought to life orally.
If you feel silly
doing this imagine how silly you will feel when they pick another abstract and
then read your aloud using your best Kirk imitation. Suddenly you won't feel so
silly (YMMV depending on your skill at star trek cosplaying).
As a special bonus
tip at no charge to you, here are two of the best blog posts on the abstract
drafting and creation process by two guys that need no introduction:
always interested in reviewing abstracts and providing feedback. Feel free to
send me yours (email@example.com) and if time permits, I will give it a
quick review. Also if you know of other blog posts about the abstract creation
and session submissions process send those along as well and I will update my
post to include them with attribution back to you.