Participating for MS Ignite 2019 at Orlando as a first timer?

Ignite 2019 is almost here. It will take place on 4-8.11.2019 at Orlando on Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).

First of all the event is huge – a real heavy weighter… If you have participated previously to some European conferences (ESPC, Collaboration Summit etc.) they are “nice and tiny” events compared to Ignite itself. Ignite is definitely one of the main events for Microsoft’s fiscal year. There will be around 25000-30000+ participants, speakers, Microsoft people, different organizing parties etc. so really lot of people with “Microsoft spirit” is packed to Orlando during Ignite takes place and it’s simply great.

As a first timer the most common error as a participant is to get all possible important and “must go” sessions in your calendar, try to actually participate all of them and basically do nothing else. This is a path to get frustrated and completely overwhelmed with the amount of information. It will be exhausting even physically since it’s normal changing room inside event venue from wing to another may easily take 30min to walk in a crowd. Through this approach you will make sure not to get benefits out from event itself. Also remember this year all the sessions will be live-streamed and recorded so it’s easy to get back them if and when needed.

I tried to list some hints in how to conquer Ignite:

Make sure you are well prepared

Even I just said it doesn’t make sense to book your schedule full of different sessions, it still good to check session scheduler beforehand to get idea what is happening and when – Select a real must haves for you and also download the Ignite mobile app to have sessions in your pocket. There are also a lot of different events, official and unofficial ones during Ignite during evenings so it would be good to check those also. There is probably some kind of WhatsApp, Teams or Kaizala group to organize within participants from your company or country (in case of smaller country like Finland šŸ™‚ Make sure you are part of it. Also when arriving Orlando from Europe or even further you gonna need at least one day to survive from jetlag so be in place at saturday evening at the latest local time. And since you are in the United States it’s good time to download Uber App and also check is your hotel one of the official Ignite hotels where shuttle rides to OCCC are available. Don’t count you can walk to venue at all even you are staying “pretty close” to OCCC.

Book only “real must have” sessions for you calendar

It may sound a bit strange after paying many thousand dollars/euros from flights, hotels and tickets and I say make sure to not participate too many sessions. Think about it – 5 days in a row, from 9 AM to 6PM full of sessions with a lot of other events, discussions, blogging and maybe some parties. Simply not gonna happen. All sessions will be recorded or streamed, walking venue end to end will easily take 30min and amount of information will be overwhelming. I would say book max couple of must have sessions for each day and then use rest of the time for next bullets šŸ™‚

Social aspect is what makes Ignite

As a finns we never speak. We simply are not extroverts and even introvert may be a bit too much to describe us in this aspect šŸ™‚ However Ignite is all about good discussions with same minded people! Seeing each others, discussing about the upcoming or published features, sharing knowledge, being with the friends, participating different evening events, connecting to new people etc. so make sure you take every chance you have to make this aspect happen.

Expo (now called The Hub) – The heart of Ignite

Hub area is a heart of Ignite. The is always people walking around and you can take interesting discussions with different company presenters, Microsoft people, with random people or sometimes even with Microsoft product group people. Make sure you have gathered questions which are important to you and take a chance to ask questions. You can also agree some discussions with people you want to meet. So instead of sitting in sessions the hub will be a good area to hang around. Oh and there are plenty of SWAG here šŸ˜‰

Take a time for yourself

5 days in a row with jetlag, endless sessions, evening parties etc. is just too much for everyone to handle. Just admit that for yourself. So take your private time when it feels even a bit you need it and dont be sorry! Maybe an afternoon off, enjoy the summer, heat, sun and give your head time to reflect thoughts and information you have received. You know what works best for you in this area.

You are in Florida!

You really are in sunny Florida! There is bunch of things to do in Orlando itself and Miami, Tampa or Kennedy Space Center for example are mostly within driving distance. So make sure you book some “outdoor” time also to make sure you catch your vitamin D dose. And not forget the huge Ignite 2019 official attendee celebration will happen on Thursday evening in Universal Studios Orlando.

As a summary and really interesting and busy week is waiting for us just behind the corner… Be prepared!


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