I’m happy to say that for most of you out there, the answer to this question is “no.” That’s as it should be. I’m not anyone all that special. I present technical sessions at various events from local user group meetings to SQL Saturday’s to international events like the PASS Summit and 24 Hours of PASS. Why? Not because the attendees know my name, that’s for sure. It’s because of a combination of at least two of these three things:
- The organizers might know my name or may know of my books or the fact that I’m working for a vendor that sponsors their event
- I’ve submitted sessions that seem to be of interest to the people who might be attending the event being organized
- I’ve got a track record of delivering decent, if not world-altering, presentations that people find useful.
Let’s say you’re organizing a SQL Saturday event. And, let’s say that you want to get as many attendees as you possibly can. Is your best bet to find a bunch of people with MVP or MCM after their name? Or, should you focus on getting an interesting set of content from speakers that you know can deliver?
From what I’ve seen, it’s that second option that is your best bet. I’ve stood in front of people and started talking about a topic that I have a written a book about only to find that the entire room was not aware that I had written that book. They weren’t there for me. They were there for knowledge that I might be able to communicate to them. They were there for the topic, not the speaker. I’ve seen local speakers give presentations that were simply amazing, despite the fact that they didn’t have a book or weren’t blogging constantly. It’s the content and delivery, not the person delivering it. You’re going to know your local speakers as well as, or better than, any of the MVPs. Rely on your knowledge of these people and the fact that you’ve seen them present before.
This is something that I think way too many people overlook. Especially when you’re managing a SQL Saturday event, you need to build an interesting set of topics, not lure a bunch of MVPs to your event. Guaranteed, you’ll get an MVP or three. Don’t focus on that or worry about it. Instead, focus on your agenda. Build a good set of presentations, the kind that are going to be the most useful to your audience.
Don’t believe me? Check out these links to the front page of the PASS Summit 2011, 2010, 2009. Note a couple of things. First, no headliners at all. No speakers are called out in any way except the people delivering the key notes. Second, there are Flickr & Twitter streams in which anyone can be one the front page for a time. In short, the focus is on content and attendees.
Remember this when you’re setting up your event.
Oh, and don’t bother linking to this post. Everyone has my permission to copy and paste this and claim it as their own. You just have to include this disclaimer for everyone else to copy and paste this post as well.