What do Speakers do at large conferences like Microsoft Ignite?
So, you likely spent your Ignite conference week getting fully immersed in the new technology, walking miles between session rooms, grabbing snacks as you head from a breakout to the expo floor, and avoiding the Florida humidity as much as possible.
What about the speakers? Do they just show up, do their 75-minute session and then head off to Universal Studios?
Seriously though, many speakers have multiple roles at events like Microsoft Ignite. Let’s run through a few things that you may not have considered:
Before the event starts – The days before the keynote can be very hectic for some speakers. In addition to speaking, speakers can also be on the hook for supporting the keynote. This can range from providing messaging and content to handling the infrastructure backstage to deliver a cracking demo. Some speakers even end up on stage being the star demo presenter!
Staffing the expo – Aside from delivering the presentations, the most public exposure for the speakers is on the expo floor. Where possible, speakers are encouraged to help staff the expo area. This is a potential opportunity for attendees to connect with a speaker and tackle any technical problems they may be experiencing in their environment. It is also a great opportunity for the product team to receive feedback from the end customers.
Press and analyst briefings and customer meetings – Often there will be an area of meeting rooms set aside for press briefings and customer meetings. Outside of their session duties, many speakers will be engaged in side meetings to help brief press on new product announcements or provide some direct expertise to those key strategic customer deals.
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Taking in Sessions – As a speaker, it can often be hard to find the time to take in other sessions. Speakers should try to sit in on sessions when possible. It’s an easy opportunity to broaden knowledge. Sitting in on colleague’s sessions for morale support or to help with any Q&A can be also be a great use of time.
Hanging out in the Speaker Workroom – There is typically a work space set aside for the speakers, known as the workroom. The atmosphere in the workroom can vary from loud and lively, to library-quiet. Remember, even though the speakers are at a conference, they still have a day job to do. The quiet workrooms allow speakers to grab a quiet moment to catch up on email or even jump on a conference call. While the livelier workrooms offer a great place to catch up with old friends and colleagues. These workrooms come in handy particularly for a large multi-national company and community like Microsoft. Note: generally, the drinks and snacks in the speaker workroom are not of a higher standard than the rest of the conference food. That’s just in the Exec’s Suites… 😊