Just a fortnight to go now until TechEd Europe. The schedule is now completed, the attendee website goes live this afternoon, and session voting has started. A quick explanation of session voting: when you log in to the attendee website for the first time, you'll be offered the opportunity to select which sessions you think you'll attend at the conference. This is really important from our point of view - we use this survey to try and anticipate how large a room will be required for each session and avoid having sessions filled beyond capacity. Not only does your vote count, but it's also a great way of viewing all the sessions and building your schedule ahead of time to maximise the value of the conference.
Registrations still continue to come in - it's a source of amazement to me how late people leave it to book for a conference like this! We've already got more customers attending than at last year's conference: and with over forty more breakout sessions compared to last year, there's going to be plenty of choice.
So here are my top tips for making the most of a conference like this:
- Plan your schedule in advance, so that you don't have to waste time at the event selecting from all 300 sessions;
- Leave at least 25% of your schedule free for labs, chalk and talks, panels, exhibition visiting etc.;
- Bring your laptop in an old bag you want to dump, and then when you get the TechEd attendee rucksack, you won't have two bags to carry back home;
- Remember that the sessions are just a small part of the overall conference: if there's a particular subject you really want extra information on, the speakers will often be prepared to chat in greater depth in the Microsoft Pavilion or even over a coffee on a one-to-one basis;
- If something is bugging you or you're not satisfied with your experience so far, post a note in the attendee forum: we're listening and will do what we can to help out.
- Ask around in your department to solicit a list of technical questions that your company needs the answers to - and then hang around in the Microsoft Pavilion until you get a response. That way you demonstrate the benefits of attendance to the company and make it easier to "sell" the idea for TechEd 2005!