Speaker FAQs

You! Yeah, you. You can speak at GroupBy!

GroupBy is a conference where anybody can submit a session on any topic. You don’t have to be a seasoned presenter, or the world’s foremost authority on a topic, or even smell all that good.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Submit a session. Don’t pour your entire heart and soul into it – just think of it as a first draft, because that’s all it is. (You can submit multiple sessions, too.)
  2. Respond to comments. Other speakers and readers will leave comments on your abstract. They’ll ask questions to make you think, and you’ll start honing the abstract into something really cool.
  3. Submissions are locked on Feb 28th, and voting starts on March 1st. At that point, readers pick their favorite 10 sessions for the conference lineup. Voting finishes on March 15th, and if you’re in the top, congratulations! You’re speaking! It’s just that simple.

What topics are allowed or encouraged?

The main audience is people who work with Microsoft SQL Server: database administrators, developers, and business intelligence professionals.

However, any topic is fair game – other databases, application development, professional development, you name it. Just keep in mind that the readers choose the winning topics by popular vote, so initially, it’ll be tough for niche sessions to get accepted. (Over time, we’ve got a few ideas on how to diversify the session lineup.)

What’s it like to speak on the webcast?

Check out these posts by past GroupBy presenters:

Are vendor sessions or Microsoft sessions allowed?

Sure. If you’d like to submit a session on how to use a particular product, you’re welcome to – but again, just keep in mind that the readers pick the winners.

If you try to pull a fast one by submitting one abstract, but then talking about something else during your session, Brent is likely to pull a Gong Show on you, disconnect your session, and start talking about the topic himself.

How are sessions picked?

The attendees pick sessions by rating their abstracts. The top ratings win.

If one speaker has multiple sessions voted into the top 10, only the top 1 will be taken. (We want to make sure presenters can submit multiple abstracts to let attendees pick what they wanna see, but we also want to give 10 speakers a voice each round.)

We aim for 1-day events with sessions starting every 2 hours, with 5 presentations per day. Depending on the quantity of abstracts, the competition in voting, etc, we may expand that or adjust the format. (Hey, this is version 0.1.)

Can I campaign to be picked?

Yes, you can blog about your session abstract and encourage your readers to vote for you. Building an audience is a great thing, and we encourage it.

You can also be friendly and approachable in the comments on your abstract, thanking people for reviewing your session, and taking their feedback seriously.

You can’t give away a limited number of prizes during your session, but you can give away an unlimited number. Meaning, as long as everybody who attends your session gets the same thing, then you’re welcome to give it away. (Warning, though: giving away physical things is ripe for tax and shipping nightmares.)

Can I submit an abstract from an existing session?

Absolutely! If you’re proud of a session you’ve already written, and you’d like to share it again, by all means. Your odds of getting picked are probably even better since you can upload the slide deck to SlideShare and include that in your abstract – folks love reading slide decks to get a sense of whether the presentation makes sense for them.

You don’t have to change the PowerPoint template either – we don’t use a standard template at GroupBy, and you can bring any slide deck you like.

What can I do to make my abstract better?

Check out Brent’s post on How to Write Presentation Abstracts, which links to several other much longer posts.

Respond quickly to audience feedback. If one person tells you to change something, that might not be right – but if multiple people start piling on, take it seriously and do it quickly.

Upload your deck to SlideShare. You can embed the deck in your session abstract after it goes live by adding it in your post like this, framing it with embed tags:

Embedding your SlideShare presentation with embed tags

That helps attendees see where you’re going and what the level is. They’ll still want to see you deliver the session – and remember that the abstract-rating audience is only a small portion of the live attendee audience.

What edits can I make to my abstract after submitting it?

Anything you want! When you’re looking at the session, you can click Edit Post at the top of the page, or head over to the dashboard, go into the posts list, and find your post.

You can edit it in the full-blown WordPress user interface, adding YouTube trailers, GIFs, SlideShare embeds, images, graphs, whatever will help make your abstract more compelling.

During session voting, editing is locked down.

If I don’t get picked, can I submit again next time?

Yes, after each event, we’ll clear out the session scores for abstracts that weren’t chosen, and ask the presenter if they’d like to re-submit.

If your session IS picked, then you can’t submit the same session again for later events, and you have to sit out the next round. We want to let other folks and other topics have a chance to get out there. We bet you’ll be back in again, though, especially if you deliver a great session!

Are co-presenters and team presentations allowed?

Yes. One person will submit the abstract, but in the abstract, note which other folks will be co-presenting with you. Right now, we don’t have the ability to show multiple authors on an abstract, though.

Are there slide template requirements?

You can use any presenting tool you want, but don’t use animated slide transitions because they cause your video & audio to break up. (Everybody thinks they have high speed Internet until they’re uploading live video & audio, plus receiving live video simultaneously.) Animated OBJECTS are fine, but animating the entire slide transition (like wipes/fades) is bad.

To remove slide transitions in PowerPoint:

  • Click on a slide in the left side thumbnail list
  • Hit control-A to select all slides
  • In the ribbon, click on the Transitions tab
  • Click None, and save your slide deck

You can use any slide format you like.

What’s Brent going to do on the webcast?

Your cohost is there to make things as easy for you as possible: posing you questions from the audience, filling in when you’re having computer problems, introducing you, and saving you when you bomb.

We’ve found that audiences respond much more to having multiple people on the webcast – they really like the banter between cohosts. (We’ve also found that presenters seem to relax and do a more natural delivery when they can look at other faces over video.)

What equipment does a presenter need?

A webcamLogitech C930e is recommended. It’s USB, widescreen, flattering, and auto-focus. (Yes, a webcam is required: audiences really love seeing your face. Yes, we both know you’re ugly. This isn’t a dating service.) In a perfect world, position it on top of your monitor so it’s at eye level. If it’s below your face, viewers will be looking up your nose at the bats in your cave. If you want an even nicer one, get the Logitech Brio 4k.

A wired headset or good microphoneLogitech H390 recommended. Don’t use wireless – the lag between different speakers will make you look (and feel) stupid. Don’t use a phone, and don’t use a speakerphone.

A fast Internet connection. Don’t try to do this from a hotel or airport at the last minute. Streaming your computer desktop, plus your webcam, plus your audio, plus receiving your co-hosts’ audio and video, is going to be bandwidth-intensive.

Throat coat lozenges. If you’re not used to speaking for 60-90 minutes straight, get any throat coat lozenges. You can find those at local drug stores, too – anything with slippery elm is good. Otherwise, you can end up coughing halfway into your session, and may not be able to recover.

How will the recordings be shared?

In a bunch of ways:

The recordings will not have advertisements for anything other than GroupBy itself. (We’ll put a message at the start and end telling people to go to GroupBy.org for more sessions like this.)

Can I submit multiple events back to back?

Once you win, you get to kick back and relax – take an event off. Let’s give other folks a chance to share what they’ve learned too. You’re welcome to submit again after you’ve skipped an event.

Got a question not covered here?

Hop into the #GroupBy channel at SQLslack.com. It’s free, and you can get an invite instantly. Presenters & attendees hang out there.

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