Monday Feb 19
9 Tips to Find the Best Sessions and Speakers at RSA
Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 11:35

RSA starts next week, and there are so many sessions! How do you know which topics, tracks and speakers will deliver the content you want? Here’s a guide to get you going, with my quick tips and some great advice from the RSA Conference Senior Content Manager, Jeanne Friedman.

There are 6,269 sessions at RSA. Okay, not really, but it sure FEELS like the conference agenda is a page from The Neverending Story. With hundreds of sessions and about 500 speakers, finding the right content and right speakers for your needs can be cumbersome. The perceived value of a conference has a lot to do with which sessions you end up in, and how well that content and speaker resonates with you. It’s a very personal decision, selecting sessions. Here’s some advice to help you wade through the volume of options at this year’s RSA Conference.

During my recent interview with the RSA Conference Senior Content Manager, Jeanne Friedman, I asked “What words of wisdom do you have for attendees selecting the sessions they want to attend at RSA?” If anyone knows best, it’s Jeanne. Here’s her advice for you: 

Don’t confine yourself to one track – every track might actually have a session you might be interested in. And don’t forget about the Peer2Peer sessions – if you are looking for real experiences and insight and an opportunity to ask questions, these sessions are the place to be. I also tell delegates to look for the star speaker ratings – these are speakers that have been highly rated in the past. However, we always have so many new speakers who could be our next potential ‘stars’ that you shouldn’t limit yourself to the star sessions.

– Jeanne Friedman, Senior Content Manager, RSA Conferences

Quick Tips for finding (and making it to) the right sessions:

1. See what content will be available online

Don’t stress about making it to all the sessions. A lot of content will be available online later, either in its original format, or as part of a follow-up series. For example, new for 2012, RSA is hosting RSA Conference Online, which includes 20-minute sessions and live Q&A with speakers, interactive P2P sessions and keynotes. See what’s available at:

2. Read the track descriptions

Get an idea of what topics are covered in each track. There’s always quite a bit of cross-over between topics and tracks, but some of the more specific ones will guide you toward (or away from) that content.

3. Use the mobile app to stay on task

During the conference, everything moves fast. There are plenty of resources, guides and foldie-thingies that list tracks and details, but if you don’t want to lug around books and papers,  THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. Whether you have a Droid, BlackBerry, iPhone or tablet. Grab the RSA Conference app now, and use it onsite to find sessions, speakers, make notes, and even locate vendor booths on the expo floor.

4. See what Jeanne says on the blog

Follow along and get more advice from Senior Content Manager Jeanne Friedman at the RSA Blog. You’ll see a weekly Friday Five, plus a ton of additional information on specific tracks, speakers and other conference events.

5. Review the conference archives

See the type of content that specific vendors, tracks or speakers have shared in the past, and decide ahead of time if that’s what you’re looking for (or not).

6. Public sector? Check out the government industry specific sessions

RSA has identified a handful of sessions on various topics that may be of interest to you.

7. Use RSA’s personal scheduler

Try the personal scheduler. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in to any tracks or sessions, but use this tool to mark your don’t-miss sessions. Once the conference gets started, the time FLIES by!

8. Podcasts

Download podcasts by RSA Speakers and see if you like the speaker and their content. Here’s another note from Jeanne Friedman, Senior Content Manager, “We do about 60 podcasts with speakers about their sessions ahead of time and we post the slides. You can find out quite a bit about what the sessions will cover ahead of time.”

9. Peer 2 Peer

I’m going to echo Jeanne’s sentiment about P2P sessions. I’ll be hosting one this year on BYOD, and this is my 3rd or 4th year hosting P2Ps at RSA, and I’ve attended several more. I have to say, the dialogue is invaluable and P2Ps are some of my favorite sessions. If you miss the P2Ps at the conference, or you can’t attend this year, catch some of them at RSA Conference Online.

Happy hunting!

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