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What it takes to be Microsoft Teams Live Events Producer #m365vm

This week I had the pleasure to deliver two sessions and also the opportunity to be a producer by way of keeping lights on with moderating 9 sessions at the world’s largest global Microsoft 365 online event – Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon – a 36 hour non-stop event that happened on 27-28 May!

I have already written a blog post detailing my two sessions and slides are available with recordings to follow at YouTube.

Microsoft 365 virtual marathon was entirely running on Microsoft Teams platform powered by Microsoft Teams Live Events. The online conference consisted of over 400 sessions delivered by 300+ speakers. The event was very well organised, coordinated and delivered. What follows below is a version of events and experience as I volunteered to be a producer for several sessions but I know behind-the-scenes a lot more effort, energy and community folks like Dipti ChhatrapatiJoel OlesonRyan Schouten and Jeff Willinger! Also, a big thanks to Galen Keene for providing a very easy to use and step by step producer guide to help everyone be on a happy path to managing live events! Oh by the way I only used my Surface Pro (5th Gen) Model 1796 i7 and worked like a charm and trying to do my thing of using less electricity!

During the session change over with Toni Pohl MVP as presenter

As Ryan Schouten was the organiser in terms of Microsoft Teams live events calendaring and invitation management, live event invitations for producers and presenters were sent out as per schedule. The producer schedule was organised by dividing sessions into miles (tracks) and so each track had 2 producer blocks (each block consisted of 3 x 1 hour-session + 30 minutes prep time) with producer allocated to each producer block to cover the session recordings capacity. For the entire conference there were approximately 150 producer blocks covering all time zones supported by global community of volunteers with over 14 miles (tracks) and language tracks: French, Korean, Japanese, Japanese Dev, Spanish.

Whilst I have summarised above in few lines, the reality of coordinating event at this scale is quite something different but it can be done and the organisers did it! There was a “war-room” team chat workspace to log any issues and seek further support and guidance if there were failures to keep producers at ease! Below are brief steps to manage activities to kick-off the live event, manage & coordinating presenters with monitoring of Q&A and dealing with if any technical difficulties.

T-30 minutes: As a producer, joined the live event using Microsoft Teams desktop client (don’t try with web or mobile!) and posting chat message that I have arrived!
T-25 minutes: Validated the event is in Pre-Live status, presented producer slide deck (slides containing conference info such as raffle draw, charity donation, volunteer intro) and started the LIVE event and looking out for our 1st presenter in “participants” pane.
T-15 minutes: By now 1st presenter will have joined as a presenter from their invitation link to event track asking them to mute until their time to present. Whilst everyone on mute, here I was managing communication through the chat window with presenter to check on if they need camera on and support on Q&A from attendees. Also advising 1st presenter to prepare their slides until we were ready to present 2 minutes before start of session.
T-2 minutes: Asked the 1st presenter to start presenting their slide deck from the first slide. Here presenter takes over my producer slides automatically. Validated that I can see their slide being presented in the Content area and the Live event panel.
T=0 minutes: Unmuted my microphone, I introduced the presenter then I muted and presenter unmuted their microphone = we are on the GO!
T+40 minutes: Second speaker arrives to this event track and above step (t-15 minutes) is followed.
T+45 minutes: Switch to the Chat, in case if not heard from the second speaker check if they having technical issues to help them.
T+47 minutes: Switched to the Chat and sent a message to the first speaker advising that 3 minutes are remaining, time to wrap it up.
T+50 minutes: Sent another message to the speaker that the session is over. Allowed Q&A to proceed until 54 minutes after the hour, then unmute my microphone and announced that the session has ended, and Q&A can continue in the Community Zone of the event website.
T+55 minutes: Began presenting the producer’s slide deck.
T+58 minutes: Before the second session begins, asked the presenter to start presenting their slide deck from the first slide. Validated that I can see their slide being presented in the Content area and the Live event panel.
T+60 minutes: Unmuted my microphone, I introduced the 2nd presenter then I muted and presenter unmuted their microphone.
The above steps (T+40 to T+60 minutes) were repeated for third speaker and second speaker for their session end reminders.

After my producer block of 3 sessions were completed then I left the event by pressing “Leave” and NOT End event! This is because the 2nd producer will be taking over to manage their 3 sessions and eventually the organisers will end the event.

I was fortunate enough that I had no issues with my three producer block of events (10 hours!!), although there were some issues faced by other producers in the initial stages of the conference, possibly due to concurrency of so many live events, but they were resolved quickly by the organisers & Microsoft engineers and I guess Microsoft cloud scales 🙂

Below are the sessions I was responsible for moderation of whom many were MVPs and folks from Microsoft and it was an honour to see their presentations and learned new stuff along the way!

Production Block and Day/TimesSpeakerSession Titles
27 May 18:00 -19:00 BSTDavid Branscome  Unconscious Bias at Work: Could You Be Guilty?  
27 May 19:00 -20:00 BSTMichal Slowikowski Marcin Ciężak  Empower users with accessible PowerApps
27 May 20:00 -21:00 BSTAlexander Meijers  Empower your workers using Remote Assist
28 May 06:00 – 07:00 BSTHansamali Gamage  A payment reminder using Power Apps, Excel and Azure Functions
28 May 07:00 – 08:00 BSTPaul Woods  Work/Life borders in a world where work is in the middle of your life
28 May 08:00 – 09:00 BSTAjay Kakkar  Zero Trust with Microsoft Cloud
28 May 18:00 -19:00 BSTToni Pohl  Master PowerShell with Azure Automation Accounts
28 May 19:00 -20:00 BSTManpreet SinghIntroducing Microsoft Graph Connectors
28 May 20:00 -21:00 BSTAdnan Amin  SharePoint Adaptive Cards for Teams

Above all, I really enjoyed being part of this great global online event with thriving Microsoft 365 community, and as this was the last year for what we have known as SharePoint Conference that has been going since 2008 (yes I was there! – picture below) and it was my immense pleasure to deliver 2 Microsoft 365 sessions and moderating 9 sessions by way of contributing to what I have gained from SharePoint over the years! Next year we have Microsoft 365 Collaboration Conference happening in Las Vegas on 23-25 March 2021, so look out for event updates on twitter @m365conf #m365conf and get registered today!

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