Zilch to Speaker: 2016 Summit Abstract Reviews


July 7, 2016 by Kenneth Fisher

Steve Jones (b/t) has been asking people to post their Pass Summit submissions and the reviews that came back, along with maybe a few words about what they thought, so here we go.

I submitted two sessions. One I’d given before (including at Summit 2015), and the other was brand new. Pass offered a service to have abstracts reviewed before submission but I didn’t take them up on it (given the results I probably should have). I did have a couple of people read each of them over though.

One thing I wish they would give us is the actual ratings, similar to what we get after giving the session.

Much ado about certifications

Topic: Certifications
Level: 100
Abstract: To get certified or not. That is the question. Whether 'tis a waste of time or a boon? Learning methods of study to outrageous benefit. To test–perchance to pass: ay, there's the rub.

  • Attendees will learn the benefit of certifications.
  • Attendees will learn general study tips.
  • Attendees will learn tricks and tips on answering the questions in a certification exam.


  • An abstract that is trying so hard to be clever but in the process fails to provide enough detail to really be of use. Might be useful, or might be a waste of time (a bit like certifications).
  • I would like to hear more about the planned content in the abstract.
  • I like the Shakespearean twist to the abstract, but I feel like it is really lacking in content to let an attendee know what they would really be coming into (outside of learning about whether to get certified or not). The topic is a good one, though not a terribly exciting one. But there should be a fair amount of interest from attendees. Overall it is solid but I really feel like a more hashed out abstract with more detail would help an attendee really get interested in a session of this nature.
  • Does not cover any “cons”.
  • Creative abstract, but doesn’t really appeal to me or help me understand why I want to attend the session.

Result: Not Accepted Less popular topic than others submitted

This was my new abstract. I was hit by two things here and I knew them both going in. First I was being cute. That works for some people, not for others. You can see from the responses, some liked it, others didn’t. Unfortunately it also hid what information there was in the abstract. I feel like there was plenty of information but it did have to be translated a bit. For example Learning methods of study to outrageous benefit meant that I was going to go over methods of study to help you get a certification, etc. I can see how that wasn’t overly clear. Like I said, I was being cute. Unfortunately in this case cute did not equal clear and understandable. Second it was about certifications. This isn’t exactly a popular topic. Lots of people like them, but even more don’t. Nothing wrong with submitting a session on a less popular topic, it just means it’s less likely to get picked for something like this.

SQL Server Security for Everyone

Topic: Security
Level: 200
Abstract: In the modern age, data is a company's most valuable resource and, unfortunately, data crimes are common. Because of this, everyone that works with SQL Server should have a basic understanding of database security. Attend this session to learn the what, how, and why of database security. Learn what permissions, securables, and principals are. Learn how to manage database security. Most importantly, learn what the best practices are and why they are important. Your company's data is your responsibility, and after attending this session you can step up and keep it safe.

  • Attendees will learn about permissions, securables, and principals.
  • Attendees will learn how to extract security details at the database and server instance level.
  • Attendees will learn how to apply best practices such as the concept of least privilege.


  • Abstract: good level of detail
    Topic: good topic
    Subjective:i would set this as 100 level
  • Abstract – Opening title could have been better. Should have more detail in the abstract
    Topic -Title could be improved. Not sure if the target audience is big enough to support session
    Subjective – level and session prerequisites match but would like to see more detail in abstract. Not sure if all the “learnings” would be able to be met in time frame allowed.
  • We all need to get smarter on this topic.
  • Abstract: not compelling attendees
    Topic: goals are very low, I don’t think this session is interesting
    Subjective rating: not interesting
  • Abstract: Well written abstract with clearly defined goals This feels like it could also be a 100 level session.
    Topic: Great topic. Introduction to SQL Server security is a solid topic and sure to draw a crowd.
    Subjective: I would send some of my new staff to a session like this. Great introductory topic!
  • Abstract: The abstract is a little bit confusing, but the session is interesting and people would like to attend this session!

Result: Not Accepted Popular topic, higher rated session selected

This was obviously a much more popular subject which has it’s own downside. More people submit sessions on the subject and obviously there were sessions rated more highly than mine. I got some good feedback, some not so good. I’ve seen the comment that it should be a level 100 before and so far I’ve resisted it. I kind of feel like if I made it a 100 I’d get responses saying it should be 200. Over all I’m pretty happy with this particular abstract and probably won’t change it much. Each time I’ve given the session I’ve had respectable crowds so I feel like people find it interesting, although obviously anything can be improved. I do plan on changing the title back to the original SQL Server Security for Beginners though.

4 thoughts on “Zilch to Speaker: 2016 Summit Abstract Reviews

  1. midnightdbasean says:

    I agree with their assessment of the 1st session. Cute or not it just doesn’t say enough to hook me. Plus I have this big question as to how worth it you could make it. Do you have enough actual material to fill the time or will it be a lot of fluff? The abstract left me with those questions because it didn’t have enough to take those questions away.

    The 2nd abstract is much better but it’s still missing something. I agree it should be 100, esp since I’ve seen the session.
    Writing abstracts is just as much an art as writing novels. In fact it can be harder because you’ve got to tell an entire story and hook the reader in just a few hundred characters. It’s tough. However, there are some principles you can adhere to that will help.
    1. Start with a problem you want to solve.
    2. Tell how your session will solve it.
    3. Call to action. (for example: So come learn how you can keep people from sniffing your daughter’s underwear from her dresser.)

    There’s a lot of variation in there, but those are good general guidelines to follow. You also need lots of good power words that make people think you’re an expert. You can be cute with your abstract, but I think it takes away from what you’re trying to accomplish. And I think there are way too many people who take the themed submissions too far and they never drop the cuteness. And at some point it gets in the way.
    Anyway, that’s what I have to say on the topic.

    • Well, I did have plenty of good stuff for that first session. I agree with the trying to be cute thing though. I’ve pretty much decided to scrap that session anyway.

      As for the other I’d love to hear what you think it’s missing. Like I said, anything can be improved :).

  2. […] Zilch to Speaker: 2016 Summit Abstract Reviews – The abstracts I submitted for 2016 (none were selected) and the feedback I received. […]

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