I certainly found out during my Enhancing Reach and Accessibility with New Mobility Features in SharePoint 2013 (SPC096) session at SPC12 that no matter how many precautions you take to make sure your conference session goes smoothly, there’s always something that can go wrong! Here’s a funny story that happened to me (and everyone else attending my SPC096 session) at SPC12 this year.
Before I get to the funny part, let me take a second to set the background a bit. This week I presented three sessions at SPC12. On Monday, Donovan Follete and I presented the Building end-to-end apps for SharePoint with Windows Azure and Windows 8 (SPC031) session to a packed room (below). Thanks to Michael Sherman for the photo!
During this session we ran a live demo that included multiple O365 SharePoint Sites, Windows Azure MVC4 web sites, Windows Push Notifications, Windows Azure Workflows, a Windows 8 application, and many other components. This was easily the most complex demo I’ve ever created, let alone presented live, in my entire career! It went smoothly, the notifications popping up on the Windows 8 machine were happening promptly as we stepped through the demo as every stage of the workflow and process took place. The only hitch in the demo was when I couldn’t find the Edit Item menu for a few seconds, but Donovan quickly pointed it out to me. We had a video recording of the entire demo on tap in case something went wrong, but our preparation and attention to detail paid off and the demo was very well received.
The next day, I presented my entire Enhancing Reach and Accessibility with New Mobility Features in SharePoint 2013 (SPC096) session in my hotel room to myself as a final practice and warm-up and headed to the conference center to deliver it. As I set up all my equipment to present my mobility session, I couldn’t connect to Wifi from my Android or WP7 devices, however my iPad worked. I was ready for that possibility and although I wanted to use all the devices live in my demo I had to fall back on recorded videos for a couple of my demos. “No biggy” I thought as I continued my setup, I’ve got a backup plan with the videos! I even had two laptops running on the podium; both with the exact same virtual SP 2013 demo VPCs running so in case one laptop or VPC failed I had a hot standby backup plan. In addition to that, I had a clone of my primary laptop’s HD ready and waiting for a full swap in the event both laptop HDs crashed. Finally, I had the VHDs for my VPCs on a USB3 external HD. That’s 4 separate disks with the demo VPCs on the podium! I like to be prepared.
OK, so now you’ve got a picture of the great lengths I took to ensure that no matter what technical issues I faced, I’d be able to move on with my session. Little did I know what was coming! The session started off well and I sensed a great deal of interest from the folks who attended. Even though it was a little after 5PM and Bon Jovi was about to hit the stage on the Mandalay Bay Beach, people were focused and paying attention. I explained that the session had tons of content in it and I was going to have to move quickly to fit it all in. In fact, when I rehearsed the session a few hours earlier I went over by 5 minutes and I knew I would have to hustle. I stepped through a couple of slides and got in the groove.
Then it happened! The alarm went off! Wow! IT WAS LOUD!!!
<Woman’s voice on the PA>
(I’m paraphrasing here.)
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! There is an alarm condition. The cause of the alarm is currently being investigated! Blah, blah, blah, blah blah.
</Woman’s voice on the PA>
After the announcement repeated itself a couple of times I noticed no one was leaving. I was certainly rattled and honestly I really didn’t know what to do for a while. Over the last decade or so I’ve presented hundreds of sessions at conferences and events, but this little twist was one I hadn’t encountered before. I knew I had a lot of content to present and no time to spare, I put countless hours into the R&D associated with my session, and I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
I yelled into my mic and asked if people could hear me in the back of the room. People nodded and I decided to press on and try to out-yell the announcement. I think 3 folks left in the next few minutes as the alarm raged on, but most folks were leaning forward, straining to hear what I was saying. I’m not really sure how long the alarm lasted. Maybe five minutes? Maybe a bit more? It seemed like forever! Eventually the alarm subsided and it took me a minute or two to bring my voice down to my normal level. LOL As I sit here watching football back at home now I keep laughing at how outrageous the whole situation was. The following day my voice was hoarse and I prayed it would hold up until I finished my third and final session of the conference. Luckily it did.
Here’s a video (compliments of Tim McDaniel) of the madness. Enjoy!
If anyone knows a backup plan for an alarm going off in your session, please let me know.
The next Monday I re-recorded the alarm portion of my session so you can watch it without the alarm. It may not be as exciting, but it sure will be easier to comprehend. You can watch in on Channel 9 here.
I’d like to say thanks to all of the folks who came to see my sessions at SPC12! There were plenty of great questions at the end of each session and lots of love on Twitter and email as well. Thank you! A special thanks goes out to all the folks who hung in there with me during the mobility session. Finally, a huge thanks goes out to everyone on my team and all the folks at Microsoft who played a role in making the sessions come to life!
Keep an eye on my blog next week for code samples and follow up information about all the sessions I presented.
Can’t wait to go skiing tomorrow!