I'm Ammar Hasayen
Husband & Father | Microsoft MVP| I do Office 365 and Azure | Speaker and blogger | I Love music and exploring the world.
Microsoft Ignite – Time Management Tips
Microsoft Ignite is one of Microsoft biggest conferences, and it is a great opportunity to learn new things and connect with tech peers. It is so important to prepare for this event, and follow the right channels and people, so that you won’t miss anything, and know about all those cool parties and events.
While in the conference, you will quickly realize that wearing comfortable shoes when attending big conferences makes all the difference. There are a lot of tips and preparation before flying to Ignite, and I will help you out be ready and get the most out of this conference.
Stop trying to do everything
It goes without saying that time management is your key of success in big events like Microsoft Ignite, as doing it wrong, can make you burn out halfway through the event.
Such big events like Microsoft Ignite are full of sessions, activities, parties, and many other interesting things to be part of. If this is the first time for you to attend such big event, you would naturally try to do everything and fit it inside your schedule, because you do not what to miss anything.
First tip here is Do not try to do everything, as you simply can’t.
Recharge your own batteries
Remember in such big events, you need time to yourself, you need time to recharge based on how you recharge. This can be going outside and getting fresh air, or it can be socializing with other peers.
For me, I love hanging out in the Expo when I want to recharge, and perhaps eating some snacks while I am there
Plan your transportation to the convention center
First, you need to get to the venue. Based on where you are staying, it might be a walking distance, scheduled bus, or might be that you are going to be taking a car sharing service or a taxi.
It makes a lot of difference if you arrive early in the morning. Give yourself time to not be rushed when you arrive, especially in the first day or two. I always arrive at least 30 minutes before I am required to really do anything. In Microsoft Ignite, you can arrive one hour early, and enjoy your morning coffee in the convention center, and perhaps meet new people and get myself ready for the day.
Session time management
You need to arrive early so that you can get a good seat. Some sessions get filled so quickly, and you would not be allowed to get in. Some popular speakers tend to have sessions with a lot of audience, and people usually wait for an hour or more outside the session room just to reserve a seat there.
Mark Russinovich, the CTO of Microsoft Azure, is one of the most interesting speakers to many people. His sessions tend to be always full and people are rushing to get way before the session start time.
In Microsoft Ignite 2016, Mark had his session right after lunch time. I knew that his session is going to be a full house and people will just wait outside before session time to reserve a good seat. I remember skipping lunch and running across the convention center to Mark’s session room, to stand in front of the session room and be the first one to enter. When I arrived at Mark’s session, it was one hour before the session time and there is 100 people waiting there for his session to begin!
One thing to remember, it can take you sometime to walk from session to session, as the convention center is huge. Sometimes you may need to ask around to find your way to your next session. In certain times, the people organizing the event would close specific routes to organize the traffic of people walking, and that means more walking for you to reach your destination.
Knowing the convention center layout and having a map with you to navigate around, will significantly save you time in such times. I usually arrive at the conference on Sunday, when the registration opened, and I hold the convention center map and start walking around, discovering the layout of the building in advance.
Finally, remember that all Ignite sessions are recorded, and you can watch each session after you return home. Do not try to run and try to catch every session that might be interesting to you. Plan a head, give yourself some time to recharge, drink water throughout the day, and give yourself time breaks from sessions.
If you know there is a popular speaker giving a session, perhaps you would skip the session immediately before that session, do some hallway networking, go visit the expo hall, do some digital labs, and then you can make sure you have time buffer to go to that popular session.
Microsoft Ignite Expo Hall time
Again, remember that all sessions are recorded and available to you when you come home. Make sure you block time in your schedule to go off and see the expo hall. Have a look at the conference agenda and take a note of the expo hall opening hours.
Expo hall is one of the most interesting experiences for me in Microsoft Ignite. Year after year, I tend to attend less sessions and more expo time, and it really changed my conference experience as I get to ask more questions and meet more people by doing so.
There are times when everyone is at the expo hall, so make sure you go there when everyone else is busy attending their sessions, so that you get more opportunities to ask those questions to Microsoft experts. I usually dedicate a session slot every day at least to be at the expo hall, where I network with others, and ask all those questions to Microsoft experts.
What some people do not realize is that every night, there is multiple things going on. Vendors, Microsoft and others community events usually organize a lot of night parties and gatherings all around the city restaurants and bars. There is also the Microsoft Ignite party in the last night of the conference where all attendees are invited to have a nice evening time.
It’s all about balance to me, and not trying to do everything or you will end up tiered and less focused. Believe me when I say, “trying to do everything, means you won’t make it till the end of the week or get the value out of the conference”.
I tried once to do it all, and I ended up sleeping during the morning sessions, no matter how many coffees I had. I was not able to focus or stay awake while I am inside the sessions, and I felt bad.
Before attending the event, you might have couple of questions or technologies you want to ask Microsoft experts about. But, when you are at the event, you might be trying to attend all those cool sessions, and you might not dedicate much time to visit the expo hall.
Moreover, when you are at the expo hall, and when you find Microsoft experts, you might forget half the questions you had in mind. I started to write down all my questions and things I want to ask Microsoft experts about, so that when I am there, I won’t forget anything.
I also tend to take notes while attending the sessions, like some tips or links to blog posts that the instructor shared with us. Those become handy when I return home.
Watch this amazing video
Well, Joey Snow and Rick Claus said it all. Most content of this blog post is inspired by their amazing talks about Ignite and TechEd. I would highly recommend you follow them, and their Patch and Switch account. Here is one of their time management sessions and one of my favorites.
Finally, I wish you an amazing Ignite experience, and I hope I can meet you in one of Microsoft big conferences. If you like this post, please share it, and follow my twitter account, as I will be covering the coming Ignite 2017 conference from my twitter account.
You can also check my professional blog here, and I hope you will find valuable information on it. You can also check my travel safety tips before you fly to Ignite.
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