PASS Summit - A Veteran's Guide

02 November 2012

There have been some excellent posts about SQL PASS Summit: more advice than you can shake a stick at. I’m going to focus on 3 topics: picking sessions, endurance, and follow up.

Picking Sessions

This will be my 5th PASS Summit. I have experimented with different approaches to picking sessions, and come up with a guide. Time is valuable.

  1. Go to Dr. David DeWitt’s keynote/session. He is an intellectual powerhouse, and never to be missed.
  2. Narrow down your choices to the better presenters; don’t filter by subject yet. A good presenter can turn a topic from dry to riveting. A mediocre presenter does the reverse.
  3. Pick a mix of relevant topics. As a database developer, I choose a mix of performance tuning, T-SQL tips and tricks, architecture discussions, and professional development. Again, only consider the best presenters.
  4. Don’t judge a session by its level. 500-level sessions are always advanced; everything else depends on the presenter.
  5. Pick the session where you will ask more questions.
  6. Lightning talks are great. Go to them if nothing else awesome is happening.
  7. If nothing fits for a given time slot, take a break. Write down your notes, go for a walk, let your batteries recharge. Be social.
  8. The content can be hit-or-miss for Microsoft execs.
  9. After each session, take notes on whether you like the topic and presenter. Use that for future reference.


The week of PASS is grueling: 18-hour days of mental and social stimulation are common.

Follow Up

The week of PASS Summit is too much for anyone to absorb fully. So, don’t expect to. A lot can be done in the following weeks.

I hope to see you at PASS.