In this month’s Road to PASS series, I’m challenging you to submit an abstract for the PASS Summit:
- Week 1 challenged you to write a few pain points you’ve solved this year
- Week 2 was about writing the session’s recap slide
- Week 3 had you writing the abstract’s technical details
- Week 4 was time to gather feedback from others
My Week 4 homework results
I posted my abstracts on GroupBy.org, then linked to them on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I got most of the feedback from LinkedIn! I find that interesting because I don’t really think of LinkedIn as a discussion platform, but it really worked well here.
Most of the feedback I got involved suggestions to cover more material – you should add this, that, etc. That’s totally normal – but you gotta be careful about what you add. In a 75-minute session, it’s so easy to scope creep your way to 80, 90, 100, 240 minutes. I’ve got so many things I want to teach, but I have to figure out how I can teach the very most valuable things in the limited time that I have.
The feedback of “you should cover this” is still really valuable because if I’m not going to cover something deeply, I may need to mention that in the abstract. For example, in my final How Often Should You Run Backups and CHECKDB abstract (only visible after you’ve signed up for the Summit Call for Speakers), I added a line:
We’ll briefly touch on how log shipping, Availability Groups, and SAN snapshots affect maintenance scheduling, too.
I did that because I wanted to set expectations that these things were only going to be mentioned in a slide or two – they weren’t the focus of the session (even though they easily could have been.) Focus is about saying no.
When in doubt, I’d rather under-sell the detail on an abstract. When I’m submitting a new abstract, I don’t have the presentation already written. I might not be able to cover everything I wanna cover in the time that I have. (This was a major theme in the homework sent in by readers – a lot of you wanted to cover 8 hours of material in 75 minutes. That’s awesome, but it’s also a recipe for being onstage and saying, “I’m sorry, but I have to skip this part because I’m running out of time.“)
Now, let’s submit it to PASS.
You’ve put a ton of work to get the technical details right. You’ve clarified the perfect attendee, you understand what you’re going to teach them, and you’ve distilled the abstract down as short as practical. Don’t second guess it now – just take the plunge.
Submit the abstracts to the PASS Summit Call for Speakers. Don’t overthink the categories, tracks, or levels – they’re something we all struggle with, and the Program Committee has been known to shuffle abstracts around when they disagree with you. The important parts are the title and abstract, and those are the parts you’ve worked so hard to nail down.
It’s going to be really tempting to look at other peoples’ abstracts to figure out if someone else is teaching the same topic – don’t. You’ve put a lot of work into crafting your abstract. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Play your game, and if you’ve done a great job at this, the rest will take care of itself.
Most of our abstracts won’t make the cut.
It’s just simple math: there are way more abstract submissions than sessions. Every year, most of my abstracts get turned down, too. I’m never mad about my abstracts that get turned down because it’s a great problem to have – our community is teeming with volunteer speakers. That’s awesome.
And all it takes is one of yours to get accepted. You don’t need all of them. You just need one. And the more work that you’ve put into each of your abstracts, the better odds they have.
Good luck. I hope one of yours makes the cut!