At SAS Global Forum, Content is King


I will begin with a short story.

SAS Global Forum, Content is KingLike many employers, McDougall Scientific, my employer, requires its employees to review, with their co-workers and managers, what they learned at a conference or course. They are also asked to suggest applications of their learnings so that McDougall might realize value from the expense, both in time and money, of sending them to continuing education events.

Fei Wang, my co-worker, and I attended SAS Global Forum last year in Vegas. During her presentation to co-workers upon our return, Fei not only provided a comprehensive overview of the conference format, sessions, and learning opportunities, but she also chose one presentation to highlight that will fundamentally improve one of our business processes.

Although Fei attended many sessions and learned much, session 8480-2016, with thanks to Steven Black, will save McDougall enough time and money to dwarf the expenditure of sending Fei to SAS Global Forum.

“But John,” you might ask, “why not simply search the proceedings after the conference?” Well, because we would never think to search for CRF annotation automation. Innovation of this sort is more easily found by attending the conference. Discovering valuable nuggets like Steven’s idea is a common occurrence at SAS Global Forum.

The value that employers realize from SAS Global Forum is the reason “content is king,” a cliché first introduced by the magazine publishing industry in the mid-1970s.

Our speakers represent every region of the world!

Though there are a number of really great benefits from attending the conference, great content continues to reign supreme at SAS Global Forum.  This year’s conference is no different. The 2017 Content Advisory Team has assembled a stellar lineup of well over 600 sessions; invited speakers, contributed papers, hands-on workshops, tutorials and posters. And, I am very proud to report that 25 countries are contributing speakers this year, with every region of the world represented: North, Central, and South Africa, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. This sort of global diversity brings new ideas and new ways of looking at and solving problems that really grows your knowledge and helps move your organization forward.

In addition to all of this great technical content, we have made special effort to organize sessions that help SAS Users better present their work. As Melissa Marshall famously claims, “Science not communicated is science not done.” Therefore, in keeping with the SAS Global Users Group’s mission to champion the needs of SAS users around the globe, here is a sampling of sessions that will help you better communicate.

The list starts with Melissa herself!

Present Your Science: Transforming Technical Talks
Session T108, Melissa Marshall, Principal, Melissa Marshall Consulting LLC

This versatile half-day workshop covers the full gamut: content strategy, slide design, and presentation delivery. With a dynamic combination of lecture, discussion, video analysis, and exercises, this workshop will truly transform how technical professionals present their work and will help foster a culture of improved communications throughout the SAS community.
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How the British Broadcasting Corporation Uses Data to Tell Stories in a Visually Compelling Way
Session 0824, Amanda J Farnsworth, Head of Visual Journalism, BBC News

… data is often seen as a dry, detached, unemotional thing that's hard to understand and for many, easy to ignore. At the BBC, employees have been thinking hard about how to use data to tell stories in a visually compelling way that connects with audiences and makes them more curious about the world that we live in. And, there is an ever-increasing amount of data with which to tell those stories. Governments are publishing more big data sets about health, education, crime, and social makeup. Academics are generating huge amounts of data as a consequence of research. Businesses and other organizations conduct their own research and polling. The BBC’s aim is to take that data and make it relevant at a personal level, answering the audiences' number one question: what does this mean for me?
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Convince Me: Constructing Persuasive Presentations
Session 0862, Frank Carillo, CEO and Anne Coffey, Senior Director, E.C.G. Inc.

Data outputs do not a persuasive argument make. Effective persuasion requires a combination of logic and emotion supported by facts. Statisticians dedicate their lives to analyzing data such that it is appropriate supporting evidence. While the appropriate evidence is essential to convince your listeners, you first have to be able to gain and maintain their attention and trust. Persuasive presentations fight for hearts and minds, and are not a dry, unbiased recitation of facts or analyses. This session is designed to provide suggestions for how to utilize successful structures and create emotional connections.
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Data Visualization Best Practices: Practical Storytelling Using SAS®
Session T117, Greg S Nelson, CEO, Thotwave Technologies LLC.

Data means little without our ability to visually convey it. Whether building a business case to open a new office, acquiring customers, presenting research findings, forecasting or comparing the relative effectiveness of a program, we are crafting a story that is defined by the graphics that we use to tell it. Using practical, real-world examples, students will learn how to critically think about visualizations.
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Presentations as Listeners Like Them: How to Tailor for an Audience
Session 0408, Frank Carillo, CEO and Anne Coffey, Senior Director, E.C.G. Inc.

Data doesn't speak for itself. We speak for it, and how we do that influences how people view and interpret that data. One of the most overlooked aspects of presenting data is analyzing the audience. At no point in history have speakers had to face such heterogeneous audiences as they do today: there might be many as five different generations in the room, cross-functional teams have broad areas of expertise, and international companies integrate different cultures and customs. This session is designed to teach attendees how to analyze not the data, but the listeners. Who is your audience? What is important to them? What is your message …?
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About Author

John Amrhein

SAS Global Forum 2017 Conference Chair

John has advanced from a front-line statistician through increasing levels of responsibility to his current position as vice president of a three decades-old statistical consulting firm. In each position, he has made a positive impact on the organization and its customers' business processes by providing evidence-based decision. John combines innovative predictive analytics from the financial and retail sectors with the disciplined quality-driven procedures of the drug development lifecycle. Additionally, he challenges clients to adopt advanced analytical methods via presentations, publications, training and client relations with executive decision-makers.


  1. I've been amazed with the content every year that I have attended, and I am sure that this year will be better than the others.

  2. Rodger Zhang on

    SGF is a great platform for all SAS users to share with and learn from each other. Looking forward to all the content at SGF 2017.Wish another huge success!

  3. Excellent article! It's very true that there's nothing like attending SGF. It's also impressive that you'll have speakers from 25 countries this year.

  4. Having followed SGF for many years I am looking forward to SGF 2017. Impressive that all regions of the world are represented. I am interested in the data visualizations presentations.

  5. When going to a conference, you are attending on behalf of your organization - you are representing your organization. It is vital to be able to bring the information back that would benefit your organization and the work that you are doing. Great article!

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I am going to keep this in mind when attending sessions and have a goal for finding at least one opportunity to present and implement immediately afterwards.

  7. "Data means little without our ability to visually convey it", I think this statement very boldly outlines the reality of my generation. We live in such a fast paced environment where looking at a table full of numbers does not convey a strong enough message anymore. Managers and executives would prefer to look at a summarized visual representation of the data rather then having to go through the data and drawing on their own assumptions. SAS Visual Analytics has changed the way data is represented for managers to better understand trends, and changes within a company. As a student I first started using SAS VA in school and it is an incredible tool with endless possibilities. I wish to learn even more about it, given the opportunity to attend this conference!

  8. Jean-François Ducré-Robitaille on

    You are right that attending an event and looking afterwards for content is far from being the same. The workshops are a great way to learn by doing under guidance of an expert instead of "only" listening to a presentation. You can not do that if you were not there. Also, by being at SGF, your time is dedicated for the event and you can put all your mind into it.

  9. Estela Tavares on

    Over 600 sessions, what an impact this conference can have on any of its participant. I am looking forward to hearing Greg Nelson talk about Data Visualization.

  10. John, really good argument for attending the SAS Global Conference. I felt the same way when I attended the one in Montreal in 2004, it was my first exposure to ODS. was able to leverage the knowledge from the attending the workshops that I could not have from just reading the proceedings.

  11. John, I've always been a strong advocate of volunteering at SGF. Besides helping to make the conference successful, volunteering also forces one to sit through entire sections of presentations, many of which I would have overlooked. I doubt that I would intentionally choose to see a presentation on CRF annotation automation, but would get to see it if it was in a section for which I volunteered. I, personally, have gleaned many such nuggets that, otherwise, would have gone unnoticed.

  12. I am very impressed that there presenters from every continent. There are so many topics and workshops, I wish I can go there.

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