After conference attendee feedback comes in, I like to blog about it to talk about what worked and what didn’t. This year, I think things worked fantastically overall.
Intro to Internals: How to Think Like the SQL Server Engine
Abstract: When you pass in a query, how does SQL Server build the results? Time to role play: Brent will be an end user sending in queries, and you will play the part of the SQL Server engine. Using simple spreadsheets as your tables, you will learn how SQL Server builds execution plans, uses indexes, performs joins, and considers statistics. This session is for DBAs and developers who are comfortable writing queries, but not so comfortable when it comes to explaining nonclustered indexes, lookups, sargability, fill factor, and corruption detection. (75-minute session)
My worries: some of you may have seen this session in various forms, since it’s one of my more popular ones, and I’ve since open sourced it. For it to work, you HAVE to have 3 printed pages in your hand. I figured I’d just print the handouts and put them on seats before the session starts, but there was one big problem: I was in the very biggest room. I couldn’t print 3 pages x 1000 people and get that all distributed fast enough. So instead, I reworked the deck so that it only used the clustered index and a single nonclustered index (the white and black pages), and then I printed them on a single piece of paper, double sided. Before the session started, the team helped me put a handout on every other seat (about 500 in total).
Attendee ratings: (514 attendees, 147 responses)
- Overall session – Did the title, abstract, and session level align to what was presented? 2.97
- Session content – Was the content useful and relevant? 2.95
- Presentation – Was the speaker articulate, prepared, and knowledgeable on the subject matter? 2.99
- Promotions – Was the session free from blatant sales material or self-promotion such as blogs, company, or services? 2.92
Comments (excluding the ones about the room logistics, which were generally great) included:
- Great job Brent – thanks for posting the slides online, the team at the office will get a lot of useful knowledge from this!
- Great presentation
- Brent is humorous and insightful
- How do you evaluate one of the best speakers at PASS? From his humor to his technical knowledge as well as presenting it in a great format for learning this session was awesome.
- Great as usual
- Great presenter. Simple and effective!
- Nice presentation I enjoyed the mix of humor and the review on reading query plans
- Great sense of humor! Loved it!
- Entertaining as always. Wish he had other devel type sessions
- Brent is always engaging and friendly.
- Brent is always an enjoyable speaker. This session had lots of good information even though it was low level.
- Lots of fun. Good presentation
- Great job explaining what to look for in the execution plan.
- Enjoy his humor and demo
- Really enjoyed this session. My main reason for attending was because Brent was presenting. Despite being an experienced SQL user there were still new and useful tips. I intend on scheduling a training session for developers in my organization
- Brent is fun,as always. I learned some things I didn’t know.
- Very well polished presentation
- Ozar is a great speaker. Makes content very relatable
- Excellent presenter and excellent session
- Excellent content and some of the most clear and concise examples for relating back engine SQL Server mechanisms to tangible examples. Excellent Session!
- Brent is a great presenter. Keep it up! Knows how to explain things well.
- Learned allot
- Great speaker. Made the session fun and entertaining.
- Always informative and entertaining. Really appreciate the slide share as well.
- What a shame that Brent Ozar didn’t run this session on level 300 or 400 since his really is so good as his is. His a good speaker with great knowlegde. He relly is a good speaker and can explain the hard stuff so this was a shame
- Excellent speaker and great content
- I now feel like I must wash my hands after using tempdb.
- Enjoyed the manner of jokes and interactions in culture as going through subject.
- Best session I have ever attended. Very easy to follow using logical examples!
- Very good speaker, very funny and clear.
- Very entertaining! Thank you
- Brent is awesome. I love his online content and hearing him speak live was awesome. Sharing the slide deck for us to use was an amazing bonus as well. Thank you.
- Brent is awesome!!!
- Great, entertaining and informativ
- Many of the items he brought up were things I learned previously while some other items are good reminders and new information. So I was able to relax. Most of all, his presentation is very entertaining. I look forward to attend more of his presentations
- Excelent presentation
- Excellent presentation with good takeaways. It was lively and humorous to keep my attention.
- Awesome awesome præsentation. I would have liked much more of this.
- Very engaging. Difficult concepts explained in very simple way.
- Great speaker, would have liked to see him with a deep dive session
- Eye Opening
- Brent kept a light and funny presentation that was both informative and easy to understand.
- The presentation was fantastic.
- Brent has an engaging personality and an infectious enthusiasm. He kept my attention through the whole session.
- Brent was a fantastic speaker, very passionate and kept us interested in the topic he presentd
- Best speaker! Could add a couple of minutes though.
- Good session.
- B. Ozar is The King
- The session was a little below my skill level, but Mr. Ozar does a FANTASTIC job of keeping everything fun and exciting. I gave the session all 3’s above, even though the info did not benefit me personally, it is invaluable info to anybody working with SQL
- Very good session and very helpful. His way of lesson is very kind and i can listen him all the day.
- Brent was wonderful to listen to. I would attend any session where he was speaking.
- Brent is very entertaining, I always look forward to his sessions.
- After watching this session several times before, I still took away new things. And an amazing and engaging presentation as always!
- Brent made the information very easy to understand and had very useful insights that I’ll be able to take back and use in my daily work.
- Very energetic
- Really great info! Very useful info and entertaining. Great speaker!
- Brent’s talks are always informative and entertaining, and this was no exception. I learned something and was directed to additional resources for more info.
- Great session and speaket!
- Very relevant & references to versions prior to 2016
- Excellent bring it back next year
- Knowledgable and great presenter
- Session filled with lots good information. Brent made the session interesting and fun.
- very good speaker.
- Very good speaker, didn’t learn anything except some tricks to do some sessions
- Brent made his presentation fun and easy to understand. I learned a lot of helpful information
- Highly entertaining, great analogies
- Great session, information was very useful
- Really fun and informative
- It could go deeper into SQL Internals next time
- Brent delivers the message regarding query optimizer in a highly entertaining and thought provoking manner. He always injects the right amount of humor and bright insight into an otherwise mind numbing subject.
- Excellent content and presentation ability
- Very knowledgeable
- great speaker kept me engaged in the topic at hand however this session should really have been scheduled to be done after the [AD-203] Execution Plans for Mere Mortals session. i took both sessions and i would have been much more prepared for this
- Brent made a very interesting and useful presentation, you will never be bored in his classes. A+ Very good and interesting session, learned a lot on it, Brent gave a lively presentation
- Brent is a good teacher and storyteller. Always enjoyable and material beneficial.
- Brent is concise and direct. His presentations are always helpful. Even if you think you know all about his subject.
- Speaker was articulate
- Brent Ozar is an awesome presenter, a great SQL professional and a very nice person to deal with. This particular session was very well prepared, super-clear and easy to understand. Brent was always right to the point
- Brent taps into his audience so well, he has a handle on the material so well, then brings it back to the purpose of PASS. The material was easy to follow along and didn’t fall flat on the screen.
- Brent you did an awesome presentation.
- Top notch. Equally entertaining and informative.
- Technical presentations are often informative but rarely fun. I enjoyed watching this presentation and learned a lot.
- It’s always great to see Brent do his thing.
- Brent’s session was a perfect master class on how to engage and educate and make it seem like a walk in the park. The content was absolutely fantastic; it was a perfectly paced and wonderfully educational experience for a Developer like me
- Brent’s session was my favorite and the one in which I retained and gained the most knowledge! Plus, it was entertaining. Brent is an excellent speaker. I wish he did more sessions.
- Excellent common sense way to explain inner working of the database engine. I plan on using this as a basis for an intro class for my developers. Keep up the good work.
- Brent is really entertaining and inspirational. He makes me want to be like him.
- Nice presentation. It would be better that if can take the content level a bit deeper.
- Excellent session.
My thoughts: woohoo! You liked it, and thank you so much for the ratings – that’s really awesome. I totally hear the “wish it went even deeper” thing, but this was a 100-200 level session. I do indeed do much deeper stuff – but I tend to put those in our training classes.
500-Level Guide to Career Internals
Abstract: This is not yet another career session that tells you to be friendly and network. Forget that – this is about using your IT skills to reinvent the way you get paid. Brent will explain how he went from DBA to MVP to MCM to business founder. Brent will show you simple techniques to build a blog, a brand, and a business without that pesky personal networking stuff. He will explain why you have to give everything away for free, and why you cannot rely on the old methods to make money anymore. It will not be easy – and that is why this session is level 500. This session is about radical methods that achieve radical results. (Half-day session)
My worries: There are a small handful (and quite a handful they are) of community members that are very heavily anti-branding, and they complain a lot whenever I mention my own site. I knew going in that I had to confront that head-on and say right from the start, “I’m not selling you anything – this is about showing you what I did, and giving you the tools to do the same thing.” After all, PASS approved the abstract, and it’s pretty clear that I was going to be talking about me and my work a lot.
Attendee ratings: (208 attendees, 45 responses)
- Overall session – Did the title, abstract, and session level align to what was presented? 2.96
- Session content – Was the content useful and relevant? 2.96
- Presentation – Was the speaker articulate, prepared, and knowledgeable on the subject matter? 3.00
- Promotions – Was the session free from blatant sales material or self-promotion such as blogs, company, or services? 2.91
- Great material, good pacing, informative and humorous
- Good, surprising session. Not sure about the level 500 though.
- Great speaker! Please keep bringing Brent back!
most useful session ever
- “One of the best sessions of the conference. i stayed for both parts. glad it was Friday AM. Great slot.”
- Thank for telling your story. I consulted years ago and it wasn’t for me, at least then, but will try to use what you said to help being better employed.
- How do rate THE Brent? Perfection, funny engaging, and spot on advice for those looking to build careers similar to his or just toying with the consulting idea. I’m not sure how to give improvements as there was solo much in these two sessions.
- Best speaker comment of summit: “I don’t LIKE you people.” Thank you for validating what I feel. (BGO: this was in reference to me talking about how I’m not really a social person.)
- As always, Brent presented well and offered good advice around the topic. Good answers to questions, good examples, and good answers to questions
- Great material and awesome concepts! You’ve certainly given me a lot of food for thought.
- Brent is a very dynamic presenter. I enjoyed this session very much!
- Great session, wish I had had it 10 years ago 😉
- Very good advice!
- One of the best sessions. Great relief from tech sessions. Very inspirational session that I left with few ideas how to move my carrier forward. Bring Brent every year, his passion is contagious:)
- Great session on how to take your career forward. I loved the personal references and Brent’s willingness to just be himself during the presentation. The session was made even better with the follow up of Edwin Sarmiento’s discussion.
- Good session. Clever interval so i could get zist of the session take home work and attend second on recording
- Entertaining as always and great food for thought. I feel this techniques can be used beyond just the technology world. Thank you for giving back.
- Great information, thank you for all you do for the community. I’ve learned quite a bit over the years and the tools your provide are very helpful!
- Indescribably good session. A staggering amount of nuggets in there.
- Brent is so good at explaining complex problems and being entertaining while doing it.
- Loved the info
- The subject was amazing. Having the steps and skills to improve myself helps to organize my personal development goals for the next year. Thanks for sharing your path with us.
- Excellent. Great advice. One of the sessions I am going to go back and watch and try and implement what he suggests. Everytime he speaks he is very inspiring. Also funny.
- Fantastic session! Brent is a national (SQL) treasure. Seriously – this was an inspiring session and perfect for where my database career is at currently.
- Awesome, great info.
- Brent is and has been my favorite blogger/speaker. He delivered an awesome session that really has had a big impact on me. Can’t thank him enough.
- “Excellent session and best speaker ever!
This session makes me want to start looking at myself and my career from a different perspective.
Thank you, Brent, for this valuable information!”
- The session was helpful and motivational.
- Uncommon, funny, entertaining session, full of valuable tips
- Fantastic session. Brent shared great information like not many people can regarding this subject. Looking forward to circling back to this material and the suggested reading list.
- A very good session. Brent is very likeable and comfortable presenting. The title could probably be less vague as this is similar like the “road to consulting” session. I’d like to learn more about best practice ways to do contracting as an individual.
- I appreciate your career path but presenting it as the only successful IT path to enhance your career was a little short sighted and you may have said that and if you did, I stand corrected.
- Really Nice and personal session. Learned a lot.
- Well the point of the session was to teach us how and what to blog about so no it wasn’t free of blog. But that was the purpose to teach us how to use our blogs and post to market ourselves. Brent spoke plainly and gave real life examples.
- Brent is a great speaker. I got a lot from his session including the understanding that it is time for a job change. Unfortunately my wife doesn’t agree. I really like Brent’s candidness.
- Brent never disappoints. This session was personal and super informative, but most of all it was motivating. This session lacked the fluff and typical things like ‘networking’ that people suggest to upgrade your career, instead Brent provided insight.
- Great session Brent. You are by far and away the best presenter at PASS. You meet all the criteria I have for what makes a great presenter. 1) Your a funny dude, that is most important, as you know it is not hard to make a talk about careers, SQL boring.
- I only attended the first part, I had a conflict for the second part, I can’t wait to watch the recordings. You are spot on in where the money is matrix. I am an FTE in a large corporation trying to solve critical business pain.
My thoughts: Yay, you liked it! I always feel really self-conscious talking about career stuff because part of me feels like I’m not really qualified. I’m not professionally trained in how to do career stuff, but at the same time, I go, “Well, I guess things are working for me, so I should talk about how I’m doing it.” It sounds like it was well-appreciated.
So What Do I Do Next?
This year, I took the approach of only submitting things I’m really passionate about teaching – sessions I’ve refined over and over at user groups, SQLSaturdays, FreeCons, etc. I think the scores and the comments reinforce that practice makes perfect – if you wanna kick ass at an international event like Summit, then it’s easier if the material is well-rehearsed.
For next year, my first reaction is to say, “What’s the hardest thing I could possibly teach you in a 75-minute class?” That feels like a fun challenge – designing, writing, and testing that material in time to submit it for Summit 2017. We’ll see how it goes.
If you enjoyed this post, here’s some of my past reflections on how I did, and how I’ve worked to get better:
- 2016 feedback about my Summit abstracts
- 2014 feedback about my Summit sessions
- 2014 feedback about my Summit abstracts
- 2014 feedback about my SQLbits sessions
- 2013 feedback about my Summit sessions
- 2011 feedback about my Summit sessions
- 2010 feedback about my Summit sessions
- Why Not Everybody Loves My Sessions
- 51 Questions About Your Conference Submission
Good job Brent (As always). It was awesome to meet you in person there 🙂 Wish I could attend your 500 level session. Is the recording available NOW anywhere?
Reza – thanks, glad you liked the session! No, the video isn’t available online. Eventually PASS will put the recording sessions up at sqlpass.org for streaming for attendees, though. (I don’t have a timeline on that – they don’t give dates to presenters.)
[…] 2016 – How to Think Like the Engine – I’ve been honing this session for years, and it’s a very different style than the typical Summit session. Absolutely zero live demos, but instead a series of screenshot demos that highlight very specific behaviors, and pair well with paper handouts. Ahead of time, I got into the room and got volunteers to help me distribute Stack Overflow’s database via paper handouts on every single seat – hard to do in the biggest room at Summit, that’s for sure. Ratings worked out well. […]