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SQL Saturday Boston #sqlsat203 Lessons Learned


April 30, 2013 by Mike Hillwig

Our event was pretty successful.And we learned a lot along the way. Here are a few lessons we certainly learned.

  • Remember which Dunkin Donuts you ordered your breakfast from.
  • Use the schedule builder on the SQL Saturday website to get a better idea of which sessions need to be in bigger rooms.
  • Most attendees aren’t as in tune with which speakers are bigger names. They care more about the topic and less about the speaker. That’s how we should have determined which speakers go in which rooms.
  • No two sponsors are alike. Some are great to work with, others need a little TLC.
  • Take care of your speakers and volunteers so they can take care of your event.
  • Our venue is split up across two floors. Putting registration on the floor where people enter the venue will eliminate a lot of confusion.
  • Stuff the attendee bags well in advance, but don’t put a schedule in the bag. The moment you print that schedule, it’s out of date.
  • Know what to farm out.
  • Start communicating with speakers directly immediately after speaker selection and not just via the website. Some of our speakers had their e-mails caught in spam filters.
  • Having a small cache of gift cards was really helpful. Many of our volunteers paid for their own lunch, so the least I could do was give them a $10 or $15 gift card to offset that.
  • I was entirely way too conservative setting the max registration number. Our drop-out rate was a bit higher than average, meaning we turned away people who could have attended our event.
  • Don’t drink too much at the speaker dinner the night before your own event.
  • Make sure you give your PASS Regional Mentor a speaking spot. I was “that guy” who didn’t do that.
  • Having a porter to keep up with the trash was one of the best things our Microsoft event coordinator suggested for us.
  • Thanking our Microsoft event coordinator and the porter with small gifts went a long way.
  • Parking. Parking. Parking. Our venue was in Cambridge and we tried to encourage everyone to take the T. Many people from the suburbs and places outside the city had to drive and needed a place to work. This something we can address for next year.


  1. That’s really thinking at an impressive level

  2. Gave Steve one of his first jobs when he was Directing with Paul Gay, his old partner from BMP. I can honestly say, 10 plus years on, he’s still one of the nicest blokes I’ve worked with. Most directors are your best mate during pre production. Steve is still your best mate at the end of the job! His Mrs Dawson Condom factory ad is still one of my all time faves!

  3. I love this! The hardest part for me is planning out my week in advance, so its super easy to just copy your ideas instead of come up with my own And I HAVE to share that recipe to the cucumber avocado rolls!

  4. Jacqlyn Smith,I consider you a true patriot along with the rest of us here. But what makes you go beyond the call of duty is you continue to knock down doors, call continuously, and send email blasts constantly.This is what we need to be doing people!Follow in Jacqlyn’s footsteps and get busy.

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