Building the IO Tour

We wrapped up building the upcoming IO Tour '06 on Friday.  I know you might be wondering "isn't that cutting it a little close?"  Yes and No.  The primary goal is to develop quality content no matter how long it takes.  Could we have finished a week earlier, sure, but taking the time allowed us to review, get input from others and tweak the content.  This is my first tour and I thought you would like to know how we get from an idea to the completed presentation.

Tours are typically built by two people, the primary (Rick on this tour) and the secondary (me, aka Rodney).  The primary is responsible for the content and creates the slide decks.  The secondary is responsible for developing the demos and building the virtual infrastructure.  It all starts with what we call the one pager.  You've all seen the one pager when you registered and this is the outline of the day.  It covers the technologies we will be talking about, implementation scenarios we will cover and lays out the schedule for the day.

With the one pager in hand the primary and secondary have a brainstorming session where we share our ideas and experiences and more importantly, the experiences of the IT pros we talk to and receive email from.  This gives us the information we need to see what people are talking about, what they are interested in and what are some common issues.  From there we begin to develop the content. 

The big thing we want to bring to the audience is relevancy.  Sure we can get up there and talk about the technology and how it all works, but we are about more than that.  We want to show you how it can, and has, improved things in your environment by bringing real world experiences into the story.  We write all this down on a whiteboard (if we are local) or in OneNote (if we are remote) and from there the day comes together.  We define the content and organize it, put the demos in order and lock down a breakdown by session.  With that complete the build begins!

The primary is responsible for the PowerPoints and we have a lot of internal resources.  I'll admit I was a little concerned at my lack of PowerPoint skills when I joined the team but I am happy to day we have a huge collection of slides and decks that are shared throughout the organization.  We can use these, customize them and create some of our own.  While this is going on the secondary builds the virtual infrastructure using Virtual Server 2005 R2 (SP1 Beta 2 on this tour).  During this time a dialog continues between the primary and secondary to ensure the content and the flow remains in tact.

Once complete, all the members of the team get together for a dry run.  Occasionally we invite members from other teams, or even community members to come in and offer feedback.  We take this feedback and edit the decks and demos to ensure they are of the quality our audience has come to expect.  With the decks and demos locked down it is time to hit the road.

I will be heading out to Edmonton (Sept 26), Calgary (Sept 28), Vancouver (Oct 3), and Winnipeg (Oct 5) before we wrap up the tour in Toronto (Oct 17).  I hope to see you there!

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