These are ten things I've learned since starting to attend in 2003. Hopefully they are of use to new attendees and possibly for fellow veterans...
1) Wear comfy shoes. The best walking shoes you have. You are going to walk a LOT. You're going to stand a lot.
2) See rule #1! Rule 1 is that important!
3) Have a great backpack or shoulder bag. This is really a corollary of rule #1. If yours isn't comfortable, it will make the walking seem twice as far and you'll end up with backaches and shoulder pain (to go with sore feet if you ignored rule #1 )
4) Know the location's quirks. In New Orleans, this means the unusual paradox of tending to be very hot and humid outside and icy cold inside. My best tip for warm locations like New Orleans is to pack a fleece top in your bag that you can put on when the AC hits Arctic. I've been carrying a fleece vest to all of the warm locations (Orlando, Atlanta, New Orleans) and been happy with that decision every time. Shuttles can be spotty in New Orleans so plan on the possibility of decent walks to and from your hotel in the muggy heat. Also, be mindful of walking alone later at night.
5) Double-book sessions. This sounds strange, but can be a good strategy. You'll often find during the conference that a particular track appeals to you more than you anticipated, or turns out to be more applicable. Options are a good thing! If you don't double-book, be open to zigging at the last minute anyway.
6) Plan a rest break. Later in the week, all the walking and the sponging of information will take a bit of a toll. Consider scheduling an empty session timeslot to recharge and refresh, then re-attack with vigor!
7) Do some homework on sessions you plan to attend if the subject matter is completely new to you. The conference is packed full of high-value information and I've found if there's a new area I REALLY want to get up to speed on quickly, I do my "101" homework ahead of time so that I can use my timeslots on higher-level sessions. There's absolutely nothing wrong with "101" session, but for my money (and we're paying for TechEd and taking time out of the office to attend) I have found I can be more educationally productive by prepping a bit before arriving.
8) Try the hand-on labs! These can be surprisingly enlightening. If you are a hands-on tech, you can get some quick practical exposure. If you are a manager, you can learn what your hand-on team members do and have to deal with. It's a win either way. Bonus sub-tip: try the labs early in the morning when seats are plentiful and systems are fast. Later in the day it gets crowded and slow.
9) Talk with your fellow attendees! I'm surprised every year at the number of people I see at lunch: heads-down chewing-away or talking with co-worker attendees! Those are lost opportunities! You already know your co-workers – talk with them when you get home! Chat with the people you DON'T know. Find out what their challenges are. Find out what unique and creative solutions they've found! Even if their problems aren't your problems today, they might be your problem tomorrow! Share YOUR knowledge too!
10) Be battery savvy! If the tech gods haven't blessed you with the latest long-battery life gadgets, make sure to carry a charger (of course), and use available tech to extend the life of your smartphone or laptop. There are always dozens (probably hundreds) of available PCs for attendee use. Use your smartphone to keep an eye on emails at they come in, but use those free terminals to reply to all of the non-critical emails between sessions. A plus to this strategy is that you can use it to avoid carrying a laptop for email purposes and lighten your load. (See rules 1 and 2!)
@mfifer:Excellent tips! You are right on on all of them. Thanks for sharing.
Good stuff. Rule 1 is great. So is rule 2.
Does anyone wear shorts? June in New Orleans is no place for pants!
I'll likely be the one guilty of #9. I talk online in person not so much.
I would like to add an power adapter to #10 for all non US attendees
I think most of us are like that, Mike. I'm a severe introvert but I've forced myself to step out of my comfort zone. It has really paid off in the people that I've met. Force yourself, Mike. You can do it.
Last year, a past attendee recommended I bring a travel mug, and I was so glad to have that on-site! A little extra coffee goes a long way!
@bapepper2:A travel coffee mug is a great tip. I didn't think of that. I drink a ton of coffee daily. Thanks.
I've been much happier leaving my laptop in the hotel. Less to carry. There are lots of computers if you need a better place to type out emails than your phone/tablet.
Here are some suggestions from my years of Tech-Eds:
1. Bring moleskin for your feet, and use it prophylactically, before your feet get blisters.
2. Bring a power strip; you will make many friends in breakout sessions.
3. Bring a decent backpack. Sometimes the Tech-Ed backpack is good, and sometimes it is weak. Don't gamble.
4. When I was in New Orleans, the breakfasts were dismal, while the "special meals" folks lived high on the (figurative) hog. So I signed up for special meals, just in case. Not saying everyone should do this, just sharing a personal best practice.
5. You don't necessarily have to be in the keynote hall for the keynotes; you an find a comfortable spot outside and watch it while doing other stuff.
6. Don't fret so much about taking notes; you can download the powerpoints and session videos soon after the session itself. Even so I often take notes to make myself pay attention.
7. I always have a bittorrent client running for Grateful Dead and other (legal) live music torrents. Legal though this may be, it can get your machine blacklisted from conference wifi; be sure to turn your bt client off at the convention center.
Farg! That was a bonus tip of mine and I'll make sure to capture it for next year (in case of future TechEd website post annihiliation )
I know many of us are already there, but for those people who haven't dipped their toes into the waters of Twitter yet, give it a try. Sign-up, grab a mobile app, and get familiar with it for TechEd. Being tied in is useful during the conference because a lot of information is communicated during the event over Twitter. It doesn't mean you won't hear about it via other means, but Twitter is where it hits first. Follow hashtags like #msteched, #techedfun, and #thekrewe (if you're so inclined) to keep up.
The tip about "available PCs for attendees" may be a bit dated. Last three Microsoft conferences I've been to had only a handful, at best. This is the age of BYOD!
Picked this one up from a friend. Do not rely on the breakfast. If your hotel has a fridge then find a convenience store, buy some cereal, milk, and disposable spoons/bowls. Have breakfast in the comfort of your hotel room and start the day with the fuel tank full.
TechEd is not a good location to start using a tablet or OneNote for the first time. Start using them beforehand if you want to keep lots of notes.
@joeelway:The breakfast tip is a keeper Had some issues making it in Orlando and a Coke breakfast efter a late night isn't really ideal
I'm also planning on stocking up on snacks in the backpack, like protein bars, etc.
I have attended a few Tech-ED:s now and Mfifers list is very good but I would like to ad a little
Shoes or sandals are the KEY to Tech-ED. Especially New Orleans since it's one long long long building. You will walk a few miles a day so new shoes or high-heels is a really really bad idea.
If you travel in from colder places, remember to bring summer shoes.
Parties are fun but don't belive that you can stay up until BurbonStreet closes and remember much of the next day sessions. Stay an extra day instead and have a Blast after Tech-ED.
Laptops, cellphones and so on, Please set them on silent and do charge them every night at the hotel. They will last longer and more people can use the onsite power outlets
Make sure to have updated systems and AV software before attending
There is a fair Mall near the Convention Centre if you need to buy something.
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