Building a Great Conference Agenda

We are deep into RMOUG’s abstract submissions and reviews, preparing for the following:

  • Oct. 2nd-  Close of Abstract Submissions
  • Oct. 6th-  Close of Abstract Reviews
  • Oct. 10th-  Schedule up for 2015 Training Days

With this weighing so heavily on my mind, I felt it might be a good time to put down on paper why I’m so proud of how RMOUG does it’s reviews and why this conference has such a great lineup.  This not only should tell you why you should submit or attend, but if you are considering submitting an abstract, it can help you submit a better one when you know what most conferences are looking for.

There are a number of ways that conferences perform their reviews of abstracts and fill their slots for a conference schedule.  I can honestly say, that considering how many conferences I’ve reviewed, been content lead for, etc., RMOUG has by far the fairest and best structure as to how abstracts are chosen.

RMOUG Training Days has the following goals:

1.  We are a technical conference.  We do not want sales or marketing presentations in our 100 scheduled sessions or in our 1/2 day deep dive/Hands on labs.

We do this for the following reasons:

  • 95% of our attendees are technical, not management.
  • We have a vendor showcase that can be added to the exhibitor prices and this one session time during the conference is specifically set aside and expected to hear about products and offerings from our great sponsors and vendors!
  • Because we don’t have sales or marketing going on in our sessions, our attendees are fully engaged with our exhibitors during breaks, networking events and throughout the day when they are in the exhibition hall.
  • We invite managers to attend the vendor showcase and exhibition area on the afternoon of the first day for free, so that our vendors get to speak one-on-one during an exclusive time with those that are going to be interested in their products.  This is a huge opportunity and I’m surprised more companies don’t take advantage of this.

2.  We give our attendees the best content in the world.

  • I attend between 8-10 major conferences each year.  This means that I know the content that is available and obsessively observe what other conferences are doing.
  • We have a very clear scoring system and have the largest group of reviewers possible, resulting in the best, overall abstract scoring.  Our scoring is everything and we do review scores.  If a score or review is way off, we contact the reviewer and have been known to remove it if the reviewer didn’t understand the instructions of how to review an abstract, (this has happened with some of our MSSQL abstracts… :))
  • We take the number of abstracts from each track and we offer each track the number of sessions that equals the percentage of submitted:
    • 20% of abstracts in track / 100 total sessions = 20 sessions goal to be accepted for that track.
    • Top 20 scored are initially chosen.
    • See how many abstracts per each speaker of the top accepted.  Remove duplicates so that as many speakers can have a chance as possible, (commonly 2 max sessions for any one speaker…)
    • We’ve marked new speakers, pepper them in whenever possible to give them a chance to speak at a conference and introduce attendees to new material/speakers.

Something to know about RMOUG’s Abstracts:

  1. EVERYONE goes through the abstract review process.  (Tim and I even submit our abstracts and then after they are scored, we’re seasoned speakers so we do well and we then pull them and keep them aside to have in case of cancellations…)
  2. I have had an issue due to storm or illness where I’ve had to slip something in at the last minute, but it was a rare occasion and it was an emergency.  If anyone can say that Carlos Sierra or Jeff Smith was going to NOT get a high score if reviewed, yeah, you get the idea… 🙂
  3. I do not limit submissions by any one company.  There is no special treatment shown to any company, but I have been known to contact a company if they’ve had speakers in the past and haven’t submitted any abstracts just to remind them.  This is just common courtesy shown to them, especially considering how busy everyone is this time of year.
  4. If we do come across a submission that “smells” of marketing or sales, it pretty much gets scored so low, there is no need to even take it up with the submitter…:)

If you aren’t getting accepted as a speaker or speakers for your company aren’t getting accepted as much as you would like, here are some pointers:

  1. Ask for feedback.  I’m very happy to share scores and constructive criticism regarding the abstract.  I want my reviewers to be honest, so I’m protective of the system and won’t open it up to anyone, but I am all about helping everyone be better.
  2. Become a reviewer for a conference.  You would be surprised how much you can learn by seeing what others are submitting in abstracts.
  3. FILL OUT THE ABSTRACT.  I don’t know how often I see two sentence abstracts, no biography or missing information.  I’ve also seen 1000 line abstracts or bios that talk about how impressive the speaker is, (we do not take the abstract on the bio, sorry folks… :))  and others that are filled with typos and grammatical errors.  Take the time to fill them out correctly-  remember how detail oriented we techies are… 🙂
  4. Most of the time we simply can’t approve as many as we would like.  I commonly have 100 abstracts or more that I would love to see in the conference schedule, but I just don’t have the room and my attendees don’t have the time to take off from work to attend.
  5. Schedule-  I make a gorgeous conference schedule… Yeah-  that lasts about a week before someone requires a change due to work, personal or other conflicts… I try people, I really do try… 🙂

If you’re still interested in submitting an abstract to RMOUG, please do so by clicking here.  I also have a blog post on how to write an abstract if you want to know more, but for now, I’ll get back to getting prepped for Oracle Open World!

Print Friendly
September 22nd, 2014 by

facebook comments:

  • sam

    Hi, I follow and enjoy your blogs, I also have ‘Expert Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c’ but I’m still working my way through it. I have questions regarding the Average Active Sessions and Top activity graphs. Would you be willing to answer them?
    Thanks
    Sam

  • Yes, please email me at DBAKevlar at gmail. Sorry for the delayed replies, still catching up from OOW! 🙂

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter