Pro Tips for Attending Agile 2016

Agile 2016 is upon us, so I thought I’d take a few moments to share some thoughts for getting the most out of the conference. I’m not going to replace the conference materials, but simply share some complementary perspective.

1. Get to “Popular Sessions” Early

Sessions will get full. If you really, really, really want to see a session, get there early. Just because you used the Sched app to express interest does not guarantee you a seat. Take personal responsibility for being there early.

Lyssa Adkins has facilitated some really rich sessions in the past. But, to make the session a great experience the session attendee count was limited. That left a lot of disappointed people who wanted to participate but were unable to get into the session.

Sometimes room participation is limited by fire code. Esther Derby has powerful insights, and lots of people who want to attend and participate in her sessions. Don’t plan to walk up 5 minutes after the session and expect to get in.

2. Don’t Complain if a Session is Full

The session limits are there to create a safe and valuable experience. Much like WIP limits support delivering value, session capacity helps participants get good value for the sessions. Be kind to the volunteer who might be telling you that the session is full.  If they say the session is full, the session is full. Please thank them and go find another session.

3. Go to the “Undercards”

In boxing, the under-cards are the lesser known fighters. They can be really enjoyable to watch, for any number of reasons. Just as in boxing, some of the lesser known presenters are going to provide tremendous value, new insights, and new perspectives. When they’re famous, you can say “I saw them talk about ____ back at Agile 2016.

4. Check out the Experience Reports track

These sessions are by practitioners, sharing hard-earned wisdom. They have also gone to the effort to create a paper that corresponds to their talk. I suspect you’ll find that these sessions aren’t filled with untested theory. They’re likely to provide insight you might not find elsewhere. Despite not being “big name” folks, the quality of insight I’ve gotten from these session in the past has been quite high. These are 45 minute sessions, so can be rather quick and to the point. And, if you happen to find yourself in a session that’s not providing value for you, it will be over quickly!

5. Don’t Fret

There are a ton of sessions in each time slot. Don’t fret about finding the one perfect session. Pick from the many alternatives.

6. Practice Sustainable Pace

Give yourself permission to skip some sessions. For some folks, going from session-to-session non-stop for the week is too much. Feel free to skip sessions, relax, and perhaps bump into somebody new in the common areas of the conference. Some of the best insights I have had at past events have been from chance encounters and conversations.

7. Give Feedback

The speakers love feedback. In addition to perhaps filling out the official feedback forms, please consider talking with the presenter.

8. Purple Shirts Rock!

Last but not least: thank a volunteer! The fine folks in the purple shirts are there to help the conference run smoothly. Through the volunteer corp, we have quite a number of folks who travel internationally to be part of Agile 2016. They’re volunteering a lot of hours of their time to the conference. Please be kind, and thank them.

Enjoy the conference.

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