Presenting and producing in a worldwide event: my experience in the Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon.

The announcement

Recently, the West Coast Office 365 community, organized by Joel Oleson, Ryan Shouten, Galen Keen and other rock stars set out to organize a worldwide event, the Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon (#M365VM). The event took place in mid-May of 2020, a perfect time for those who like me felt a bit nostalgic due to the postponement of the SharePoint Conference 2020.

From the day it was announced, I was in! Being part of this community has helped me so much throughout the years and having the opportunity to support was something I could not miss.

Volunteering as a producer

As a volunteer, I got access to the tenant where it happened, the SharePointKnight community. It was amazing! I suddenly felt part of this “secret society” and I watched amazed as my Twitter feed was reflected here by many of the friends I follow but now we are all part of this experience.

Being producer was a great learning opportunity. I had very little experience running a Live Event with Microsoft Teams, but with the support provided I was able to quickly rise up to the challenge.

Galen provided a set of solid training sessions accompanied by one of the best training materials I have ever seen. They thought of everything, even edge cases and what to do in each along with step by step instructions with screenshots. Times were clearly marked.

Attending the session was also very important as this allowed me to ask key questions to run the event and hear what others had in mind to produce.

For the producer role, I nominated myself as a producer for the Spanish track. This was a great decision as I had the opportunity to connect with other colleagues, MVPs and Microsoft speakers in my native tongue and support the amazing community from all over America (the whole continent friends) and Spain.

During my time producing, I also tweeted on the sessions as they occurred, to elevate and bring the amazing talent that this track had to offer to others.

In future opportunities, I would like to produce other events but also step up my game as I will be more comfortable having done this a first time, but also having experience how others produced their blocks.

In my opinion, this was also a great learning opportunity for Microsoft to run an event at this scale and to find areas where Live Events and Microsoft Teams can be improved to support such an endeavor with the added challenge of everyone being remote.

Speaking at the event

I could not miss the chance to also participate as a speaker. As a Digital Workplace Crusader and Office 365 Consultant, I am passionate about clients learning about key areas that will make them more productive, but also more secure.

Given the rush to enabling remote work, and that Azure Active Directory Premium P1 made it to the Microsoft 365 Business offering, I though pertinent to highlight to small business owners the great features they now have access as part of the bundle while remaining in the Business SKUs, devoted to organizations of less than 300 employees.

It is exciting for me that these features can help companies ensure the right people have the right access to data, to support standards for managing group creation and supporting remote workers by providing easy access to information and tools needed to perform their job.

As more companies realize that remote work is here to stay, they will need to embrace technologies such as Azure AD Join and Intune to keep their devices up-to-date and compliant.

Group management is also another area were onboarding and offboarding can be simplified if we take the time to devise the needs for each of our groups and leverage dynamic groups to ensure department users or users of a given title have access to specific resources.

There’s lot’s to to cover, so instead, for a high level, check out the slide deck for my presentation.

All you can eat Microsoft 365 content

If you missed the event (and even if you didn’t, you couldn’t possibly attend 20 tracks at the same time) keep in mind that all the recorded sessions are trickling in to the event’s official Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon YouTube channel, make sure to subscribe and enable notifications to keep up to date with the latest uploads from the organizing team. The recording of my session is now available.

Also, if you want to learn more about the history and behind the scenes of the event, check out Joel’s post for his thoughts and insights.

Back to face to face (hopefully)

One of the big announcements for me is the return of the in-person event, now transformed into the Microsoft 365 Collaboration Conference which now includes Microsoft Teams, Power Platform and SharePoint under one umbrella. Check out Jeff Teper’s message as he announces the return #inJeffWeTrust. My hope is that we can make it to Vegas in March and that by then our world is a much safer place to gather in bands like we used to.

I miss the in-person interactions and being part of an amazing community of folks devoted to empowering others to be their most productive selves. It cannot be replaced with a screen, but for now… virtual will do! 😊

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