Lights, Camera, Action! Maximize your Microsoft Ignite 2019 Experience – Event Maven Tips and Tricks

My name is Heather Newman, and I’m a Microsoft MVP, Office Apps and Services. 

2019 marks my fourth Microsoft Ignite (my first TechEds were Barcelona and Dallas, TX in 2003). Microsoft Ignite is the year’s largest Microsoft  IT Pro event, featuring hundreds of technical sessions and hands-on workshops, a massive expo floor, tons of parties, and, something I proudly get to do for the first time: be a Community Reporter. 

The Ignite Live Stage will feature 10 community reporters who will interview Microsoft speakers and members of our community.  

We’ll also be doing interviews during commercial breaks and roaming around the OCCC to capture videos with attendees, partners, and Microsoft MVPs.  The full Twitter list of the Community Reporters lives here. #Follow 

As an Event Maven (I used to produce many events for Microsoft), I know a few ins and outs to get the most knowledge, the best networking, and the biggest fun out of any event.  

Where can you follow me at Microsoft Ignite? And why do you have curlers in your hair? 

Well, I like hot rollers, they are easy and quick to give one’s hair some bounce and had them since my Mom gave them to me as a present when I was 16. Two years ago, Microsoft MVP and RD, Dux Raymond Sy, and I were about to film a pre-event webinar and I had them in while we were prepping. We decided to have me leave them in on-camera, and #TheCurlerReport was born.  

Over the past two years, I’ve been posting these to my Instagram accounts @heddanewman and @creativemavens I use this time to talk about where I am in the world speaking at events, technology, culture and things that I think bring joy to the world.  

I’ll be running around doing my scheduled interviews, but I will also be camped around the Humans of IT lounge in The Hub, and I’ll be posting my Community Reporter videos to the Content Panda YouTube channel, please subscribe to follow along. 

If you want to meet, follow me on Twitter @heddanewman and shoot me a DM, I’ll try hard to catch you or have you catch me. 😊 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you create a productive and memorable Microsoft Ignite experience. 

EVENT MAVEN TIP 1   

Read up on the past #MSIgnite Community Reporters’ tips on getting ready for the event. Download the Microsoft Ignite event app. The maps there are fantastic, shuttle schedules, learning paths and more. Be sure to fill-in in your profile as well.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 2  

Need some cash on-site? ATMs and money change machines are located in the lobby of the North, South, and West concourses of the OCCC and the Hyatt.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 3  

Did you know there is a 24-hour diner in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, just off from the OCCC? It’s called B-Line Diner, and they’re there for all your late night or early morning #nomnom needs.   

EVENT MAVEN TIP 3   

Fun Facts – OCCC West Building in total is 4 million square feet. Exhibit space in OCCC West is 1,103,538 square feet. Charge your FitBit and get ready for bragging rights! And do bring sneakers. I prefer Vans, but that’s just me.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 4  

Fun Facts – OCCC is the 2nd largest convention facility in the US. They host 230 events in the Central Florida area, bringing in roughly 1.4 million attendees who contribute about $2.4 billion to the area’s annual economy.   

EVENT MAVEN TIP 5  

The OCCC is about 12 miles from the Orlando International Airport, as are most conference hotels. Transportation options include Uber, Lyft, and taxis.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 6  

Pedicabs are common in the Convention Center District and can be found outside the OCCC. Pedicab rides are usually complimentary; tipping is customary, based upon service provided.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 7 

Bring battery chargers, in multiples. You will want to have your phones at the ready to capture and post all the goodness to social media. #MSIgnite 

EVENT MAVEN TIP 8 

Bring shoes, also in multiples. Ignite is a business casual tech event. Carry a change of shoes and socks in a backpack; they are the best way to go. Maybe you’ll want nicer shoes for nighttime, or maybe just a refresher. Also, bring layers. You will go from air conditioning to possible afternoon rain to the Florida heat. And don’t forget sunglasses, because, well, it’s bright in Florida. 😊 

EVENT MAVEN TIP 9  

Use Twitter to connect with people and say hello. MVPs and Microsoft folks are super active there, especially the Office 365 and SharePoint communities. Email is not the way to get with someone on-site. Follow speakers on Twitter before the event you know you are going to see so you don’t have to hunt and peck for their accounts. It is a great way to connect if you tweet a quote and a picture of someone’s session. Speakers appreciate it so much, I know I always do.   

I snap a photo of my LinkedIn QR code and keep it in my favorites so I can easily connect with people on the app on my phone too. If you are hosting/speaker/in a small group you can also use the LinkedIn FindNearby app to connect with your audience, workshop, etc… – its changed a bit from this blog post, click the LinkedIn app, two people icon, the people+ icon and you can turn this on, this is also where your QR code and reader live.  

EVENT MAVEN TIP 10 

Bring a water bottle and sit down whenever possible. Hit the bathroom whenever you see one and charge your stuff whenever you see an open plug. This may seem like an episode of The Amazing Race, but this week can be both glorious and brutal. Be kind to your body: hydrate, eat and sleep (a little). Most of all enjoy and have a blast. 

BONUS EVENT MAVEN TIP 

Hundreds of people work hard to put on (aka “produce”) these kinds of events. Keep an eye out for people with headsets or wearing “all black,” or with crew badges. Along with all the local folks taking care of us all week, those are the “backstage” people who make this event sing.  

Positivity and gratitude are just plain good for your soul. Remember, these “producers” have been working on this show since the moment last year’s Microsoft Ignite ended. We all receive the beautiful fruits of so much labor, planning, time, and energy that goes into putting on something of this size. Make someone’s day by sharing a little grace and a thank you with them. They are usually wearing black and have on headsets.  

Same with the sponsors – be sure to thank them as well. Sponsor partnerships with Microsoft are so important, and they are a big part of the magic that gets created during this one terrific week of the year.  

Here’s a little piece I wrote a while back about being an event producer:  

Cue the Music, Cue the Lights, It’s Magic Time #MSIgnite 

BONUS BONUS EVENT MAVEN TIPS 

Read up on what will be available on-demand versus what you can only see on-site at the event. Certain sessions are not recorded, meaning all that good old-fashioned networking is done in real time.  

I wrote a piece on belonging after feeling left out (and literally left) by my colleagues at a couple of conferences. These events can be intimidating and lonely, especially if you are attending by yourself. Be aware of body placement when you talk in a group – if you find you’re standing in a circle, break it open and make a U instead.  

Most of all, get fired up and have a blast at Microsoft Ignite!! 

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