TechEd 2004 BOFs: Things To Remember

I was looking over the list of BOFs for this year's TechEd (I won't be going after all, unfortunately), and it looks like there's going to be a great set of sessions. Having ran 2 sessions and PDC and attended several others, I wanted to give a few tips for everyone running one at the end of the month.

  1. A BOF is not a presentation, it's a discussion. You won't have slides, you won't have whiteboards. You'll have a mic and your mouth. It will be much more interesting if you actively involve as many people as possible in the discussion.
  2. Many attendees won't realize it's a discussion, so it's up to you to create a conversational atmosphere. Get them talking. Get the quiet ones to respond to questions. These guys are on the front-lines of everyday coding. You never know where they can take the conversation.
  3. Set the agenda within the first 3 minutes. Don't drag it out with lengthy introductions and what not. Get the ball rolling and keep it rolling.
  4. Have backup questions if the conversation stalls. Be ready to switch gears if you see the current topic nearing its end.
  5. Be prepared for your topic. You'll be much more confident if you know your material, and you'll be able to help steer the conversation much more effectively.
  6. Get control of the discussion, and keep the reigns. You are the one leading the topic, it is your job to keep the conversation on point. It's definitely OK to go off on tangents, but if it's not productive, get it back on track.
  7. Set a good example. Don't interrupt people who are on topic. Acknowledge anyone who currently has the floor, and make it clear that the floor is yielded to the current person speaking.
  8. Have a positive attitude. It doesn't matter if you are freshly rested or if you just pulled in from a 10 hour bus ride. Your energy will set the tone for the hour-long session. Your attitude will be the first determining factor on whether the session is fun and informative, or an hour of living hell.

Those are my tips. Hope someone finds them helpful.


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