Event thoughts and event hygiene pre-VMworld

Tomorrow I’ll be in San Francisco for the pre-event festivities of VMworld 2013.

I have a couple of thoughts/observations my prep for this event, and my adventures to Interop Las Vegas, Cisco Live, and Nth Symposium this “summer.”

I’d welcome your feedback and other suggestions… maybe this will all end up in front of the right eyes.

And maybe people planning other similar events can take this advice and at least think about it over a scotch on the rocks next weekend.

Make Scheduling Easier

I think the Cisco Live and VMworld scheduler sites are the same back-end. However, as I pointed out when I first tuned into Schedule Builder, VMworld’s schedule is far more limited in usefulness.

Admittedly, Cisco Live didn’t give 5 minute granularity for scheduling, which has to be useful for people who want to attend 15 minutes of each presentation. But I can live without that granularity.

What I find more difficult to deal with is the inability to schedule after-hours “personal time” to keep track of social and vendor events. Sure, I can load everything into Google Calendar or Outlook, but then if I change things in the Schedule Builder, it’s a manual resync or I miss something.

As a bonus option, it would be great if vendors could get unlisted codes for their events, so instead of manually adding, say, VMware Customer Event, I could put in 9EVT2039 or something and have the details populate. Password-protect if you want, so people can’t randomly find the events as easily, but it’d be nice to make the scheduling and planning as uneventful (heh) as possible.

Manage Scanner Pouncing, or, I just want free stuff

I try to manage my badge scanning. I know I’m going to get a year or five of random untargeted emails from most companies that scan my badge, and while the free iPad you’re giving away would be a nice late birthday present for my fiancee at home, you’re not going to note on the contact form on your scanner that I’m not really interested in your call management system considering my job is running Hadoop clusters.

I’d love to have two scan codes… one for “yes, I want to hear more about your products,” and one for “no, I’m not interested in your products, but I’d like to be entered in your giveaway so you don’t stalk me everytime I walk by.”

I’d love a third one for “my employer spent 7 figures with you already this year, but thanks for asking” (I’d use that one a few times most likely, even if I’m not wearing my mouse ears) and maybe a fourth one for “I’ve had dinner with your CEO and I suggested that new feature you’re touting between the fourth and fifth scotches” but then the name badges would get really crowded. And Hans would probably only scan that last one all week.

Don’t Be That Idiot, or, control your devices

I have probably tweeted about this during conferences dozens of times already this year… and it would be really great if presenters and organizers would help remind the less considerate/professional in the crowd…

We’re not here to hear your cell phone, pager, IM tone, etc… or to see the presenter/musical guest/keynoter through your iPad.

Before your session begins, set your mobile devices to silent, or vibrate only if they’re not sitting on a table or other noise-amplifying surface.

If you’re expecting a call that you absolutely have to take, sit near the door. And don’t take a call until you have left the room. If we needed to be on the call, they’d have called us too, right?

And as much as you want to share the experience with all your Instagram/Facebook/Vine/blog followers–you don’t need to block the view of people behind you by holding your iPad up pretending you’re a videographer. If your iPad wasn’t in the way, we could still see the speakers/performers, so you’re not doing anyone a favor. . Just don’t do it. Put the iPad away and enjoy the show. 

This is what it ends up looking like, and we don’t want this .

Speaking of hygiene…

I’ve often thought someone like Right Guard or Axe should be a sponsor for job fairs, expo floors, etc. There are always people who don’t bathe/shower/change clothes, and people who thought the TSA 3oz figure was a suggestion for daily cologne/perfume use.

Unless you’re trying to snag a Kardashian, you can go easy on the fragrances. Beyond that, wear a clean shirt, and clean up a bit before going into close quarters with other people who’ve hopefully have done the same.

Like the rest of this, it should go without saying, but there always seems to be at least one or two of what a hairstylist friend of mine used to call “the peanut butter people.” As in warm peanut butter fragrance. Not becoming, I tell you.

So where do we go from here?

If you’re a presenter or organizer, consider finding some slightly more filtered way to encourage people in your events to silence their mobile devices.

If you’re a professional human attending an event, learn how to set your devices (laptops, tablets, phones, pagers, Tamagotchi, etc) to silent mode. Set your devices to silent mode before the presentation, event, concert, or keynote begins. Identify the nearest exit to you in case you have to take a call. Don’t talk on the phone during a session/lecture (there were people doing this at Cisco Live, seriously). Gently encourage your friends, colleagues, and anyone else who might listen to you to do the same.

If you are at this event just to show off how loud and obnoxious your ringtones, IM notifications, email alerts, and iPad videography can be… well… there’s a Justin Bieber concert for you somewhere. And they’ll love your Cheetah Girls ringtone.

What suggestions do you have for fellow event attendees? Feel free to share in the comments.

Oh, and GET OFF MY LAWN. 🙂

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