PASS Summit 2018 Session Feedback

I was honored to participate in three presentations at the PASS Summit 2018. I delivered a full-day pre-conference session titled Intelligent Data Integration and another session titled Faster SSIS. I also participated on a panel titled BI & Data Visualization.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who attended my presentations!

As I’ve shared (numerous times) in the past, I share my ratings not to boast but to let less experienced and would-be presenters peek behind the curtain.

The ratings were on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (good).

Intelligent Data Integration Precon

I had 107 attendees and received feedback from 33 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 4.45
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 4.24
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 4.42
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.79
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 4.45
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.55

These are ok numbers. Not as good as Brent’s or Cathrine’s, but ok. I’m ok with these numbers but I want to do a better job connecting with the audience.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

Most of the comments were positive. I really appreciate the positive comments. I included all the non-positive comments below. Some of the negative comments were also instructional. Others… need instruction.

“I learned tips and tricks that justified the cost of the conference.”
“Andy was an excellent speaker. Working through demos was integral in giving me exactly what I need to implement a solution.”
“Great knowledge and very humble in the way he talks.”
“Andy is awesome, his ego does not get in the way during the presentation, overall great.”
“Andy is a wonderful speaker and I was able to easily understand the topics covered and feel confident that I can use the lessons learned in my profession.”
“Excellent delivery of material. Always delivers humor along with the content. Picked up tips that would have taken a very long time to learn on my own. Would love to see another pre-conference session on ETL by Andy (whether SSIS or ADF).”

“We spent way too much time in Biml. ”
“Andy knows his subject but while the Biml intro was interesting the examples of SSIS patterns were too simplistic, too ‘Hello world!’. Should have had at least one example were data source and destination were on different servers.”
“Continual reference speaker made to how session content just ‘hobbying’/not production conscious, alluding to the ‘real’ stuff being something other than what was being presented. ‘I have a stand in the exhibitors arena’!!! The serious stuff!!! Cheapened the experience. Although pre-con by no means cheap! This inflection, re-iterated by the speaker was disappointing. Felt a superiority complex existed!

My Thoughts

I didn’t get much feedback on the Biml portion of the precon. Of the two comments that mention Biml, one was negative and another positive. I’m not sure if that’s because I covered Biml during the first part of the precon (and evaluations were filled out at the end of the precon) or if I did a worse job on Biml than the other topics. To me, it looks like a wash.

The last comment is… I don’t know. I think someone was having a bad day or I wasn’t their cup of tea or I just rubbed them the wrong way. I actually took 60 seconds to explain that PASS exhorts presenters to steer clear of sales-y talk in presentations. In the past, I’ve been vocal in my disagreement with PASS about these policies. While I believe I am right, I signed a contract to abide by the rules.

That said, the rules permit sponsors and exhibitors to share information about their for-pay products during presentations. In the 60 seconds, I shared my belief that someone – either the attendee or their company – had paid good money for the attendee to attend this precon. But I did not want to spend any of our time together selling them anything. I shared some of the free tools available from DILM Suite. I mentioned I sell other tools and solutions and that I was an exhibitor. If they wanted to learn more about products I sell, they could drop by the booth or email me.

bunch of attendees did just that! Nick and I had some great conversations with people at our booth. I’m pretty sure we will be helping some folks with training and consulting, and that we sold some licenses to DILM Suite products.

I strive to cover the topics in as much depth as possible. In order to do that, I demonstrate “chunks” of functionality and patterns using demos that are not Production-ready. I believe more than one day is required to delve into data integration with SSIS with Production-ready code. I’ve led such training – and continue to deliver beginner and advanced SSIS training privately and occasionally, publicly. If you’re interested in learning SSIS from the ground up, I have a five-day course named From Zero To SSIS. I’d be honored to deliver this training for you or your team. Email me. If you are an experienced SSIS developer, I recommend attending a delivery of Expert SSIS presented in cooperation with Brent Ozar Unlimited.

To this attendee who I do not know (evaluations are anonymous when sent to speakers) and any other attendees who agreed with this attendee, I apologize and ask your forgiveness for coming across as superior and cheapening your experience.

Faster SSIS

I had 203 attendees and received feedback from 63 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 4.54
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 4.44
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 4.60
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.83
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 4.63
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.83

These are better numbers. They trend about the same, though: I scored higher on speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter in both this session and the precon. My lowest score in both presentations is the usefulness of the session content for job and career. From this I glean I need to work on content.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

As before, most of the comments were positive and I included all the less-than-positive comments below:

“I now know that a hashbyte match for an etl will work. Ive wanted to try this but my clients use other methods to load data. Thank you very much.”
“Andy is a good man and we are lucky to have him in our SQL Family.”
“Very easy to sit through! Great content and answers.”
“Andy is always entertaining. I learned quite a bit from this session and I plan to implement the things he spoke about.”
“Great session, love your humor. Good and easy to follow demos. Good job!”
“Andy was incredibly entertaining and the content was very good.”
“Great session. He’s on my list when I come back.”
“More sessions should have interpretive dances.”

“Thanks for the talk. Liked the time for questions. However I would have preferred more examples.”
“Excellent presentation skills. Very interesting and entertaining. There were way too many questions about their own specific issues that would have been better if handled after the session. It felt as if we rushed through content because there were so many questions. I’m definitely going to look into Andy’s available content because I found his approach interesting and different and would like to see more tricks.”
“Ok. Hard to understand some concepts.”
“Good instructor, but deep subject matter (hard to follow).”
“I should have read session description more carefully. It was beyond my skills. My own fault.”

My Thoughts

I’m going to start at the bottom of the negative comments here and say: “God bless you sir or ma’am,” to the person who had the courage to share that the level of the session was beyond their skills. I had this session pegged as Level 300. I will increase that level going forward to 400 (minimum) based on feedback about the level. It wasn’t just this person, I own the “hard to follow” and “hard to understand” comments. I will correct that moving forward. I will also add a disclaimer about the pace of this presentation in response to the “rushed through content” comment – which is another reason to bump the level.

Regarding the interpretive dance comment, well… you had to be there. 😉

BI & Data Visualization Panel

This was a panel that included Mico Yuk, Melissa Coates, Meagan Longoria, Ryan Wade, and me. We had 111 attendees and received feedback from 20 attendees.


Rate the value of the session content: 3.75
How useful and relevant is the session content to your job/career? 3.90
How well did the session’s track, audience, title, abstract, and level align with what was presented? 3.90
Rate the speaker’s knowledge of the subject matter: 4.40
Rate the overall presentation and delivery of the session content: 3.90
Rate the balance of educational content versus that of sales, marketing, and promotional subject matter: 4.50

These numbers are not good but the comments help us understand why.

Selected Comments About the Presentation

The comments were evenly split between positive and less-than-positive:

“Fantastic and especially loved the diversity of the panel. Thank you!”
“I valued the information about Data maturity – getting customers from data > information > knowledge.”
“This was great. There was a lot of interesting discussion. Mico was a great host.”
“Mico was a fantastic moderator and the panel (for the most part) were experts in their field.”

“Mico was great at moving the conversations along and keeping it on point…very well done. I guess I was just disappointed that I didn’t come away with more “definitive” material. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to expect.”
“Mico interrupted the panelists with her own comments too much and didn’t manage the room well. The panelists were fantastic.”
“This session need a Plan B for when the audience did not contribute many (or any) questions. Not a worthwhile session for me.”
“The panel could have been a little better balanced. They all(?) were consultants, it would have been nice to have someone on the panel who is just working for a company.”

My Thoughts

It’s tough to tell towards whom the comments were aimed (except the comments that mentioned Mico which were evenly split positive and less-than-positive).

I’ll share that it’s tough to get high ratings from a panel presentation. Part of the reason is it’s technically impossible to prepare in advance for the questions from the audience. I believe that’s also an advantage for some attendees.

Of the 20 people who supplied evaluations, 4 ranked the panel session below 3.0. You don’t have to be good at statistics to realize those scores are going to tank the averages.


If you’re going to present, you should understand the dynamics of evaluations.

I shared with a friend – who happens to be a very good speaker and received some disappointing comments on his evaluations – with experience, we know when we’ve delivered as good a presentation as we can and when we’ve fallen short of that goal. For me:

I know I left it all on the field in my presentations at PASS Summit 2018. I did my very best. I practiced and the practice paid off. I planned and the planning helped – especially with timing demos in both the precon and Faster SSIS.

I’ve written about evaluations in the past – especially for free events – see Being a More-Aware Free Technical Event Attendee in which I describe a game – called “There’s Always One” – that I play with evaluations.

Because I know I delivered these presentations well, I’m happy with these numbers. Will I strive to do better? Will I incorporate this feedback into future deliveries of the precon and Faster SSIS? Goodness yes! Overall, though, I’m happy to have had the honor of delivering a precon solo at the PASS Summit and that I was selected to deliver a session and participate on a panel.

Frank (@Tableteer) and I just recorded a show in which I mention both this post and the game called “There’s Always One.” Check it out, along with other podcast recordings at!


Andy Leonard

Christian, husband, dad, grandpa, Data Philosopher, Data Engineer, Azure Data Factory, SSIS guy, and farmer. I was cloud before cloud was cool. :{>

3 thoughts on “PASS Summit 2018 Session Feedback

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