Want to get the most of your time at a conference with break-out sessions? Here are 9 to-do items before you go to a conference, 7 to-do items at the start of your days at the conference, and 5 to-do items before the start of each session. Below are some other action items and notes which I compiled during my last two SharePoint conferences in 2012 and 2009.
- Find or order business cards.
- Copy details of all relevant sessions and time into text file in case connectivity is gone.
- Pick sessions to attend.
- Consider getting show tickets and dinner reservations.
- Make myspc site a favorite on laptop browser and phone.
- Print out the schedule. Connectivity is unreliable.
- Avoid lines by picking up badge, etc. the night before if possible.
- Go through vendor materials early to target booths with intriguing offers.
- Get to the food early so that you can get to your session early to get a good seat.
- If alone, find table with gaps and people talking to each other in English. Groups tend to know each other already and don't engage as well.
- The ask the experts, attendee party and welcome parties have food. The Monday night party did not.
Start of Day
- Charge 2nd laptop battery.
- After the first 2 days, it was good to review the sessions to tweak the choices.
- Silence the cell phone and mute the computer.
- Open a browser page to the calendar for the day and another tab for myspc. Don't navigate away from the calendar as it may not come back soon.
- The badge band (lanyard) is a little scratchy. A collared shirt is best.
- For long walks with a heavy backpack, use both straps to avoid strain.
- Prepare a simple word document with title, name, date and numbered outline to start taking notes before the session starts.
- Get to rooms as early as possible. Some are overbooked and you end up without a seat (on floor in aisle or stand in back).
- It's probably possible to look ahead to see how many people are in a session, but since the room capacity differs, it's not a great indicator.
- Doing evals at end of session is so much easier. At the end of conference, my brain was overloaded.
- It's fun to follow Twitter and tweet. Find feed and hashcode.
- There is a discount tickets booth in front of MGM Grand. This is like Tkts in New Your City and BosTix in Boston where you can get great deals the day of the show.
- The Luxor / Excalibur tram to Mandalay Bay does not run until 9 AM.
Some of these are specific to my needs and how I work. I compiled these using Freeplane, an open-source mind mapper.
Both the 2009 and 2012 conferences took place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Both were before major releases of new versions of SharePoint. The 2009 conference proved to be invaluable from both the information firehouse I tried to drink from during the conference, and then from the videos of the sessions.
Above is a tag cloud of all of the titles of the sessions, and here is a tag cloud of the descriptions of the sessions:
Tag clouds produced by Wordle from the SharePoint 2012 conference titles and descriptions.