Volunteering at Scottish Summit 2021

An image about volunteering at Scottish Summit

Registering as a volunteer

As the very first D365 and Power Platform Community event that I ever attended, the Scottish Summit holds a very special place in my heart, as it was there that I was first welcomed into the  Community.  Little did I know that I would soon be volunteering at Scottish Summit myself!

Scottish Summit 2021 was held on Saturday February 27th 2021 and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year was a completely virtual event.  Some months before, the organisers, Iain Connelly and Mark Christie, had put a call out on social media for volunteers and I had registered immediately along with around 50 other members of the D365 and Power Platform Community.  The first few months were quite quiet.  We were given our access to Sessionize (the platform for speaker registrations) and the Eventmobi site which would be used to host the event, and waited for all the sessions to roll in.  And there were hundreds!

Some of the many sessions submitted for Scottish Summit

Selecting sessions

After the ‘Call for Speakers’ had closed, our first task as volunteers would be to work through the huge volume of sessions that had been submitted via  Sessionize.  Each one had to be ranked in terms of interest, originality and educational value.  Each of the sessions had been categorised according to its description, and volunteers were asked to focus on those categories that fell within their own area of expertise.  At this point all sessions were anonymised, so that the content of each was considered on it’s own merit, based upon the summary of the session that had been provided, so that any ranking was in no way influenced by who the speaker might have been.

Once all the sessions had been ranked, the top 8 sessions in each track were selected for inclusion in the event.  At this point the speakers were made also visible, so that a confirmation could be sent to them.

Volunteer tasks for Scottish Summit

Volunteer updates

Once this had been done, Iain and Mark arranged regular sessions so that we could all get together and keep up to date on the rest of our tasks.  There were a number of tasks still to be performed prior to the event, mainly around the organisation of speakers and sessions, and of course it was vital that we continued to promote the event so that the speakers had an audience on the day!

In addition to the pre-event tasks, there was also an amount of training required so that we were able to do what needed to be done on the day.

The Restream streaming platform used at Scottish Summit

Technical training

Many of the sessions had been pre-recorded so that they could be cued ready to run in the streaming software in advance.  With almost 400 sessions over 40 tracks, minimising the risk of technical issues on the day was key.  However, some of the speakers had selected to speak live, and this would involve using the Restream streaming software, so those of us who were running tracks with a live element had to learn how to use Restream if we were not already familiar with it. My friend Asena and I were helping out in the Westhill room, and the last speaker of the day, Jan Pieter Posthuma was speaking live so that included us!

Sessions in the Scottish Summit Power Apps Portals track

The event

I had struck it really lucky that day, as I had spent most of my day on the Power Apps Portals track with Nick Doelman who was running the track with me.  As Nick is super organised, I had fortunately been able to take in most of the awesome sessions … aside from a brief visit to the Anstruther room for New Speakers to present my own!  I absolutely couldn’t have asked for a better day, and while I do miss the in person contact with the Community, this really was the next best thing.

I can’t wait for next years Scottish Summit 2022 in Glasgow, and will 100% be volunteering again.  If you are interested in volunteering at Scottish Summit yourself, keep watch for the call for volunteers, or get in touch and I will let you know when it’s out.  Come along, and get involved, I can promise you won’t be sorry.