7 Jul 2013

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A personal look back at TechEd 2013 (New Orleans and Madrid)

This year I had the pleasure of being invited to present a one day pre-conference seminar at Microsoft’s TechEd conferences in North America (New Orleans) and Europe (Madrid). While I have worked at quite a few TechEd’s in the US, this was only the second year I was presenting.  In addition to the pre-con, I also presented an instructor-led lab (twice) that I wrote on “Getting started with Team Foundation Service”.

The opportunity to be involved with a technical conference, especially overseas, is fantastic. As part of our duties are presenters, we’re required to help out on the Visual Studio ALM booth on the expo floor. This is a great way to help attendees with any challenges or issues they may be having with Microsoft’s ALM suite. Inevitably you end up handing out business cards and getting all sorts of technical questions for weeks following the conference.

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Photo #1: Me manning the Visual Studio ALM booth on the expo floor at TENA.

TechEd North America also marked my first visit to New Orleans. Other than being hot and humid, New Orleans was a great city and instantly one of my wife’s favourite US cities. The diversity and laid back nature of the locals made us feel relaxed and welcome. The local food was also delicious and we sampled Gumbo, Po-Boys, Jambalaya and Beignets.

TechEd Europe – Madrid

TechEd Europe was held in Madrid this year which meant my first trip to Spain. I had my wife along for the trip and we made our way to Madrid on the overnight Hotel Train from Paris. It was also my first visit to Paris but that’s another story.

TechEd Europe is a smaller conference than it’s US counterpart but there are still more than enough attendees to make for a great conference. My participation at TechEd Europe was somewhat bittersweet as it meant I had to miss the //Build Conference which was running in San Francisco during the same week. //Build (and PDC before it) is the only conference I head along to just to be an attendee.

As a presenter, something I did notice is that European audiences typically do not give the same feedback that audiences in North America do. I like to encourage questions and audience interaction during my sessions. The questions you get from the audience often help you understand if you are making your point effectively and if the audience is understanding you. This is not meant in any way as a criticism but rather a simple observation of different audiences.

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Photo #2: Me getting ready to present my pre-con at TEE

If you’re interested in any of the sessions that were presented at either of these conferences, Microsoft make the recordings freely available through their Channel 9 site.

On a related subject… I’ve been selected to present at TechEd in Australia in a couple of months which I am looking forward to. It’s always nice to present at your own local TechEd event.