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  • Malorie Leonetti, Marketing Coordinator at NMI

New Moon Ideas at Ignite 2020

It’s no surprise that our usual “big event in a new city” travel posts and blogs have halted this year but that doesn’t mean the work has. We’ve been fortunate enough to work along side Microsoft as they planned and kicked off Ignite 2020, a worldwide digital event that took place from September 22 – 24.  With the inability to provide folks in-person content and experience, we had to find creative ways to provide an equally, if not better event online. 

Here are some of the cool things we worked on for this year’s Microsoft Ignite: 


#FindMicrosoftLearn Challenge

With a conference that is strictly virtual and folks working from home, it can be challenging to keep attendee engagement high. We developed the idea for a social media challenge that attendees could take part in throughout the event. A select group of speakers and presenters were sent SWAG boxes containing branded Microsoft Learn items that they were asked to place around their filming space. Attendees were then tasked with spotting these items during sessions and tweeting using the hashtag #FindMicrosoftLearn

Not only did this aid in keeping attendees focused and on the look out, it gave speakers a new, playful way to promote their sessions. There were no prizes or big recognitions for finding the most items, just a social media team ready to respond and engage as people were taking part. This resulted in over 180 mentions! 

Intro to Tech Skills Intro to Tech Skills was an initiative started to give attendees a true beginner experience, providing a first look into what it takes to get into specific areas of tech. This content was intended for people who are looking for a fresh start, or a new career in tech because let’s be honest, huge conferences are intimidating and often the content is geared towards the seasoned professionals. We wanted to give attendees the opportunity to gather information and get answers to the questions they may have been struggling with.

Here was some of the feedback:


“Thank you Microsoft. This will certainly help us to have an idea about the available technologies MS has to offer to horn our skills and improve knowledge about the new services.” – session attendee 

“a very strong and compelling session. Had lots to learn and am very excited to look for myself learning more about Azure AI in Microsoft Learn” – Session Attendee 

“I wish it was longer.  This could have been a day long session.” – Panel Session Attendee 

Learn Workshops  Just because we couldn’t be together in person, didn’t mean that hands on learning should stop. Learn Workshops offered 75-minute-long, live guided walk-throughs of various Microsoft Learn modules targeting beginner to novice attendees. Attendees were able to engage and ask questions to subject matter experts as they worked through real-life scenarios. This created a more personal experience that allowed folks to practice with a more hands-on approach and take away information that was valuable to them. 

“First session I have taken that actually gave me guided learning – found this the most useful so far. Always easier for me to learn having someone walk me through things rather than just having to learn on my own” – Session Attendee

Ignite Cloud Skills Challenge

Perhaps the thing we’re most hyped about, was the Ignite Cloud Skills Challenge! This contest allowed attendees to complete up to six different collections of learning content for a chance to win prizes. Each person who got through at least one was eligible to receive a free Microsoft certification exam. As more collections were completed, sweepstakes entries were earned for a new form of prizing.


Unfortunately, we learned the hard way from the last digital event that physical, tangible prizing isn’t the best option in the middle of a global pandemic (shipping times and countries not accepting packages made it challenging to reward our winners) so we had to get creative. What would encourage folks to continue learning and participating in the challenge? The thing we’ve been talking about since the beginning… EXPERIENCES! One hundred first place winners will have the chance to choose 1 of 4 options for an AMA (ask me anything) styled session with some well known Microsoft personalities and the grand prize winner will receive a 1:1 mentoring session with Mark Russinovich, a brilliant Microsoft executive and technology leader.

This challenge continues until October 6 but to date, this initiative resulted in participants from over 189 countries and absolutely crushing our original targets by more than double and even triple across several metrics!


You can see what we worked on here. We are incredibly proud of the team that remained flexible and open minded during these strange times, and that created and executed on these, and many more, unique ideas that lead to an inclusive, exciting event for all attendees. While we do miss out clients and colleagues, working remotely in different countries and time zones has not stopped us from throwing a little NMI magic into events.


How are you hosting your events during COVID-19?

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