Virtual Conferences

As COVID-19 prevents us from gathering in the same place and has us moving to virtual platforms, I was curious to see how other events would handle what I feel is the most critical piece–interaction.  Technical content is important, but Google can’t be your only friend and sometimes you just want to talk through a problem with someone.  The first events I attended simply slapped some technology on remote presenting and called it a conference.  While I can see a value to ‘real time’ training, you couldn’t ask questions–you didn’t know who else was in attendance. How do organizers continue to put on compelling events?

This had a major impact on my thoughts around SQL Trail–SQL Data Partners’ in person event.  I had thought to cancel the event; however, after talking with Matt Gordon, he has given me reasons to reconsider and we are looking forward to having an event in October. Matt put on an event in April and I was interested to get his take on how things went and how he accomplished his goals for the event. I have also participated in several online events and in the episode we discuss the pros and cons of virtual events and we give our take on how to make them better.

Listen to Learn

​00:27     Intro to the team and guest
02:17     Shout-outs & t-shirts
03:57     Matt Gordon’s Day of Discovery
07:28     How it rolled out and what Matt would do differently
10:49     Would Matt do the event again?
13:53     Can attendees network at a virtual event?
15:29     Ideas on what you can do to keep people involved
18:46     We’re waiting for a killer conference app to be created
21:19     Matt has some ideas for virtual networking, but it can get expensive
24:23     Why people spend the money to go to conferences
26:23     Thirteen hours is actually more than 6 hours
30:30     Breakout rooms might work pretty well
34:24     And Carlos’s virtual conference problems have all been solved
36:38     When are we all getting together in person again?
40:49     Virtual might be here to stay, but the in-person event isn’t dead
44:06     SQL Family Questions
49:33     Closing Thoughts & Contact Info

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A virtual event, if you have it and nobody shows up, you’re out a few bucks because you bought the domain and whatever. Where an in-person event, if you go to all that trouble and 5 people show up, it’s a big screw up.

Matt Gordon

Meet the Hosts

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Carlos Chacon

With more than 10 years of working with SQL Server, Carlos helps businesses ensure their SQL Server environments meet their users’ expectations. He can provide insights on performance, migrations, and disaster recovery. He is also active in the SQL Server community and regularly speaks at user group meetings and conferences. He helps support the free database monitoring tool found at and provides training through SQL Trail events.

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Eugene Meidinger

Eugene works as an independent BI consultant and Pluralsight author, specializing in Power BI and the Azure Data Platform. He has been working with data for over 8 years and speaks regularly at user groups and conferences. He also helps run the GroupBy online conference.

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Kevin Feasel

Kevin is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP and proprietor of Catallaxy Services, LLC, where he specializes in T-SQL development, machine learning, and pulling rabbits out of hats on demand. He is the lead contributor to Curated SQL, president of the Triangle Area SQL Server Users Group, and author of the books PolyBase Revealed (Apress, 2020) and Finding Ghosts in Your Data: Anomaly Detection Techniques with Examples in Python (Apress, 2022). A resident of Durham, North Carolina, he can be found cycling the trails along the triangle whenever the weather's nice enough.

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