A Few Tips & Tricks on Attending Microsoft TechEd 2010

As a technical professional, it’s a safe bet that you will attend a conference (or two) during
your professional career. Given this reality, it’s a good idea to have a plan
that outlines what you should do before, during and after each conference. With
Microsoft TechEd 2010 less than a week away, I thought it would be a good
idea to share some of my tips & tricks when attending this conference.

Attending Microsoft TechEd 2010

  • Have a plan. Review the Agenda and Sessions thoroughly and use the
    Schedule Builder to plan out your itinerary. Consider talking to your
    manager/mentor to sort out your schedule and goals for the event.
  • Bring a large and durable
    backpack (i.e.
    Brain Bag by Tom Bihn). You’ll likely accumulate a considerable amount of “stuff”. You’ll need a bag that’s strong/supportive enough to withstand a week’s worth of packing and unpacking.
  • Bring comfortable shoes. You
    should expect to walk a great deal when attending TechEd.
  • Consider bringing a smaller
    laptop; a netbook makes for a great conference machine. You’re going to
    spend a great deal of time sitting and walking around. You will want to pack
  • Bring a lot of business
    cards. Stick them behind the name badge of the lapel that the conference
    organizers will be providing you so they are easy to access and hand out
    to people.
  • Plan for not-so-great wireless at the event and at your hotel. Think about it: You’ll be at a conference
    with thousands of wireless hungry professionals, just like you. Put your 3G
    card into your bag before heading out.
  • Set your out-of-office reply
    in email, letting folks know that you’re unavailable and how to escalate
    items in your absence.
  • Schedule some “recovery
    before leaving for TechEd. This is time you’ll need to catch up
    on email and voicemail that will accumulate while you’re attending the

While Attending Microsoft TechEd 2010

  • Dress appropriately for the
    event. New Orleans can be pretty hot and humid at this time of year. Be prepared.

Ugh. Today’s weather (May 31, 2010) in New Orleans. To a Canadian, this equals “NOT FUN”.

  • Arrive early for breakout
    sessions (i.e. 15 minutes before start time). Generally-speaking, they are
    well-attended and finding a good seat 2-3 minutes prior to the start time
    is next to impossible.
  • Eliminate distractions.
    TechEd is a wonderful opportunity to learn and connect with your peers.
    Switch your mobile off, close Outlook and pay attention to the presenter.
  • Visit the Track Areas section
    of the Technical Learning Center (TLC). In my based, this is the absolute
    best place to get answers to questions you have about Microsoft-related
    products and technologies. This area will be filled with product team
    members from Microsoft and should be considered a must attend/visit part of your itinerary.
  • Keep an eye on the #TechEd
    hashtag for information and news relating to the event. Many ad-hoc
    meet-ups are scheduled on Twitter and are great opportunities to connect
    with like-minded individuals.
  • Participate, get involved and most importantly, ask lots of questions. Your TechEd experience (from a learning perspective) will be much better
    if you take the initiative by engaging and talking with others.
  • Don’t worry too much about
    taking detailed notes. Most breakout sessions will be recorded. Record the
    “ah-ha!” moments but don’t stress about writing down everything
    you hear in a session.
  • Submit evaluations and more
    importantly, let speakers know what you thought of their presentations.
    Believe it or not, most speakers (including myself) read EVERY SINGLE
    COMMENT that’s written/typed on an evaluation. Use that opportunity to
    provide feedback.
  • Charge your laptop and mobile
    phone as soon as you get back to your hotel room. It’s easy to forget
    given how busy you’ll be at TechEd. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself when
    you’re not having to spend time between sessions charging your devices the
    next day at the event.

After Attending Microsoft TechEd 2010

  • Take some time and mentally review what you learned at the conference. There will be a lot of information to absorb and you’ll need some time to synthesize it. (More often than not, I come home from a conference and my brain hurts. Note: Not from alcohol but rather, from all of the ideas I have.)
  • Report what you learned to your colleagues. Did you see something cool? Did you discover a solution that will dramatically impact your business? Let others know. Write a quick email or organize a “lunch & learn” where you can recap the week’s events.
  • Send an email to the TechEd organizers and let them know what you thought about the conference. Believe me, they’ll want to know.

Some What-You-Should-Do-While-Attending-a-Conference Resources

Oh, and there’s one more thing…

Yes, I’ll be attending TechEd. I’ll be there with Mack Male and members of the Canadian DPE team. If you happen to see me wandering around, please stop me to say hello. I always love meeting up with folks from the technical community, especially Canadian developers!

Comments (9)

  1. rfjnewton says:

    Getting to TechEd from Toronto is not going to be pretty – connecting through Chicago. Whatever happened to the direct flights from Toronto to NOLA?

  2. Joseph Guadagno says:

    If you are attending TechEd, you can get a list of some of the meetups and after parties happening at TechEd at http://www.techedevents.info

  3. jeff says:

    So you're saying wearing shorts to these events is fine, I have never been.

  4. @jeff: Yes and no. It depends on your point of view. Personally, I won't be wearing shorts; rather, I'll be sporting business casual.

  5. jeff says:

    Thanks for the quick response. I'll probably go jeans or khakis and a polo shirt then and keep the shorts for night.

  6. @jeff: Yep. That sounds about right.

  7. Sean Kearney says:


    Thanks for the tips.  Looking forward to my first ever TechEd ever.  So … errrr… just how "BIG" of a backpack do you recommend?  Would it still fit as carryon?

    I'm really looking forward as well to feeling that "End of TechEd" headache.  All of those sessions and KNOWLEDGE!

    "Brain food!"


  8. @Sean: One key survival tip is to make sure that you don't stay up too late and consume too many "pops" in the evening. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid snacking on the salty treats that are provided. Opt for the fruit instead. Your body and mind will thank you later in the evening while everyone else is suffering. 😉

  9. Greg Walrath says:

    Re: 3G vs. WiFi – I agree, WiFi will be pretty tight, but if my experience at the last MS Sharepoint conference in Vegas is any indicator, so is 3G. My iPhone performed terribly, but my plain ol' Verizon cell phone worked great.

    @rfjnewton – We lost our directs to NOLA from Seattle a while back, too.