SPC19 Session Planning

I hope you found the first article in this series Aligning Organizational Expectations useful. The question is – did you execute on it? How were the meetings? Do you feel comfortable in your understanding of your organizations expectations to allow you to succeed at the conference?

In this next article in the series, we will cover session planning with suggestions on how to select the sessions that will maximize your experience and hopefully ensure an educational conference.
To begin, planning needs to be kicked into high gear now that the session schedule is online. On Tuesday, May 7, the conference app will be pushed online and you’ll be able to check on sessions there as well. One small caveat, you must be registered for the conference to use the app, so be sure to register today to get access. Further details on that below.

To plan out your overall experience, understanding your business role is essential. There are a number of session categories; Developer, Yammer, Teams, Intranet, On-Prem, D&I, Security, Search, M365 Biz Apps, Content Services, OneDrive, Stream and Adoption from which to choose. I highly recommend taking a long look at the schedule to understand how the sessions are setup as there is no specific track or room designation for each topic. There are also topics and sub-topics that should be considered, be sure to check the session title as well as the description for the most accurate information on the session. For example, a security session may also touch on compliance, which may appeal to a different audience than a typical security session itself.

1. Know your focus. This may seem intuitive given that you have a particular interest and role in the organization you’re representing, but it isn’t. Answer the following question; what information do I want to take back to my organization? Is it technical or strategic, macro or micro, long or short-term? I also suggest expanding that by identifying the pains in your company; what answers can help us get this project started, or completed? How can I be the lynchpin behind this effort? Once answered, these questions will allow you to use the online session guide to your benefit. When using the conference app, you will see that there are multiple categories to guide you towards a session. Of course, there are also detailed session descriptions and suggested sessions based on what you are currently viewing built in as well.

2. Know your speakers. Many of the speakers at SPC are Microsoft employees, MVPs and RDs who have extensive reputations as speakers, authors, bloggers and the like. Note the speaker of each of the sessions you plan to attend and do some research in advance on their latest online posts and videos. This will provide some insights into their current thoughts and perhaps some tips on what to expect in the session. Also, be sure to read up on articles and blogs to get a better sense of the topic area and draft some questions you would like answered. Most speakers will be onsite for the bulk of the week, so there will be ample time to have your questions answered. If you can’t find someone you are looking to speak with, don’t hesitate to ask around or tweet at them to get some attention.
3. Pace yourself. Attending any week-long conference is a marathon, not a sprint. Each day will be packed with keynotes, sessions, meetings, expo hall visits and after-hours events. The simple things, like having comfortable shoes and being sure to eat properly are very important. I always make sure to have some protein bars, extra water, and fruit with me. Also, don’t underestimate the size of the MGM Grand; the venue is huge, be sure to leave lots of time to explore the venue and travel between sessions. Rest assured there will be plenty of steps taken for those tracking your step count.

Finally, give yourself time to move around the conference. This may seem obvious, but the MGM Grand is a huge venue and getting around takes time. From the main hotel tower, plan on 15 minutes to get from your room to the session room you’re planning to be in. Check the literature and online maps to see where you need to be and ensure you’re there on time. While the opening keynote will be recorded and available after the conference, the individual workshops and sessions will not be. There will also be conference and hotel staff available to assist with any directional questions or concerns you may have.

If you haven’t registered for the conference, you can do so today at www.sharepointconference.com. Be sure to use discount code RIZ for the best available discount. You can follow me @RizInsights on Twitter and follow @RoadToSPC on Instagram for more information and tips on #SPC19. Are you still on the fence? Do you have questions on the conference? Feel free to reach out to me at eric@thesharepointjourney.com and let’s chat!