The Dreamforce Developer Track 2018: How We Select Sessions

The Salesforce Developer community showed up in full force for our Dreamforce 2018 Call for Presentations. On June 15, 2018, we asked you to submit your best ideas for presenting at Dreamforce 2018 in the Developer Track. Straight out of the gate, we couldn’t refresh our dashboard fast enough to keep up with the submissions that were pouring in!

By the time we closed the CFP on July 15, 2018, we had received over 970 Developer Track submissions, which is 26% more than we received last year. Between the Developer and Admin Tracks, we had about 1,900 submissions! With those numbers we could host another couple of Dreamforces right after the official one!

So many of you shared your ideas, and you’re probably wondering what we do with them. Why did your session get picked? Why didn’t it? Here’s more info on how the Developer Track came together.

Picking the panels: Assemble all advocates!

Prior to launching our Call for Presentations, we recruited a group of 40 Salesforce employees from different departments to be session owners and submission reviewers. They are Salesforce Admin and Developer advocates from across the company who know the role of the Salesforce Developer very well. These 40 people not only review submissions, but also work closely with presenters to bring these talks to life on stage at Dreamforce.

But that’s not all — we also extended a call to our Salesforce MVP Community to help us with feedback and about one hundred MVPs stepped up to help!

We can’t take all the submissions (but we wish we could)

Of course, we can only select as many sessions as Dreamforce can physically hold. For the Developer track, this turned out to be just over 200 sessions across 20-minute Theater and 40-minute Breakout formats. From that number we load balanced between the two things we know developers want:

  • Information about our platform directly from the engineering teams that build the products
  • Best practices from our passionate community based on their implementation experience

To achieve this, we allocated roughly half of our inventory for the product teams and the other half to be chosen from the 970 submitted Call for Presentations.

The feedback process: Scalable session selection

With 1,900 submissions for the Admin and Developer Tracks, more than a dozen products and close to 200 stakeholders, team members, session owners, and MVPs to give feedback on those submissions, we needed to completely reinvent our feedback process.

I built an internal feedback app on Salesforce. This app asked key product stakeholders to rate each submission on how well-written the title and abstract are, how useful the information is, and how innovative the content is. The result gave each submission a karma score.

At the same time, Admin Evangelist Gillian Bruce used GetFeedback to craft a way for session owners and MVPs to rate every session at scale. For this part, only the title and abstract were shared, not the speaker name to make sure the submission was evaluated based on content only. A sweet bonus for using GetFeedback was that the panel could review sessions while on a mobile device.

Both the karma score and the GetFeedback score were combined into one record to provide a single view of all feedback. We also used Chatter to further ask, answer, or discuss aspects of any one session. From there, we used these records to make an informed decision about each session.

Selecting the sessions (Spoiler alert: it’s really hard)

With scores in hand, we began the final selection process. First, we looked at submissions that scored the highest in both tools for feedback. We slotted as many top-scoring sessions as we could first, and then reviewed the top-ranking sessions for each topic and product to fill out the mix. Then we looked at who was actually presenting the selected sessions.

In 2016 and 2017, the overwhelming feedback from presenters was that they were overbooked. Dreamforce is a place for you to learn, connect, and have fun (and not burn out!), so this year, we did our best to accept great content without overbooking anyone. This is to make sure you get the opportunity to enjoy all that Dreamforce has to offer.

My session wasn’t selected. I still want to present!

The way the numbers worked this year was we could only take about 1 of every 10 sessions submitted. Competition was intense and we had so many great submissions, but we also had limited space and a ton of different products to cover. The good news is that you don’t have to wait until next year to present your content and get up on a stage! There are literally hundreds of developer group meetups and many community-led conferences happening all year around the world; and they’re all chock full of developers who want to learn from you. Go here to find the closest developer group near you, jump in, and jump onto that stage!

Published
August 3, 2018

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The Dreamforce Developer Track 2018: How We Select Sessions