NDC: 5 reasons to not miss this conference

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Thanks to the Norwegian Developer Conference (NDC) in Norway, my entire perspective of conferences -- from their purpose to their impact -- has been taken one (giant) step further. For years I'd been hearing about the NDC, but this was my first experience actually attending it. Co-organizing my own conference in Melbourne, I was extremely keen to see how the grownups do it, and I had great expectations for the week-long event. Here are five highlights that warrant the headline.

1. Content

The number one reason NDC is so incredibly popular and successful is the content. Some of the top speakers globally are invited to Oslo, and this year there were 157 speakers from all corners of the world. These folks are all experts in their field; they're chosen because they add real value to the event (and I'm not just saying this because I was invited to present this year). The presentations are well rehearsed, incredibly informative and they are all rated by the people that see them.

Each session has a green, yellow and red button that attendees press on their way out. This quick exit poll means that any speakers who weren't well prepared or didn't give their all will score low. Lower ranked speakers are less likely to be invited back to the event (at least I would imagine this is the case).

2. Atmosphere

Whenever I attend a conference, one of the first things I notice is its vibe. This is possibly the hardest aspect to get right (or to change if you don't get it right). The atmosphere at NDC is friendly, inspiring, professional, surprising and entertaining. For example, every morning Kjersti Sandberg, the founder of NDC, welcomes all attendees at the door as they walk into the venue. The speakers are all wandering around amongst the crowd and are happy to talk with anyone. Atmosphere is hard to explain, but the team behind NDC has created loads of it. So much, in fact, it almost feels like you can take some home.

3. Networking

If you're not afraid to walk up and talk to people that you either don't know, haven't met or always wanted to meet, NDC is a great place for that. The speakers eat at the same places as everyone else, go on the same shrimp cruise on Wednesday night (again, with everyone else) and, in general, they mingle at the same places. Bottom line? It's easy to meet interesting people here. Even though I was speaking, I certainly didn't hold back. In fact, I approached many of the people who inspire me, and got to know them quite well. There is so much truth in the adage, it's not what you know, but who you know.

4. Food

Sure, nobody really goes to the conferences for the food (mainly because it's usually not all that great), but the NDC's method of keeping everyone sated certainly stood out. There is no set time, you can eat when you're actually hungry; you can get a beverage whenever you feel like it. Craving ice cream? Help yourself in the freezers located throughout the venue. The coffee comes in three different types from multiple vendors, and you can sip one from a comfy bean bag or beach chair. The food is of great quality and there is something for everyone; quiches, salads, burgers, sausages, seafood and much more. It may seem trivial, but it's the biggest relief when you're in full-swing conference mode.

5. Location

Despite living the first 24 years of my life in Denmark, I had never been to Oslo. Because the event is in June, the sun doesn't set until about 11 p.m., meaning you have a great deal of daylight to explore this interesting city and look at the 800 year fortress, modern opera house, or go for a wander to the eclectic Frogner Park. Yes, Norway is unbelievably expensive ($20 beers, 30min taxi ride for $120 and $20 Whoppers, to name a few), but you aren't there for long, and everything is pristine. Of course, Norway isn't the only place where you can check out NDC, as the event already exists in London, and is also making its way to Australia in 2016.

Wherever you happen to be, the bottom line is this: If you have the opportunity to attend NDC, make it happen. And while you're marking off the dates on your calendar, don't forget to plan accordingly.

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Lars Klint

Lars Klint is an author, trainer, Microsoft MVP, community leader, authority on all things Windows Platform and part-time crocodile wrangler. He is heavily involved in the space of HoloLens and mixed reality, as well as a published Pluralsight author, freelance solution architect and writer for numerous publications. He has been a part of the software development community for the past 20 years and co-organizes the DDD Melbourne community conference and developer events with Microsoft. Lars also runs a part-time car restoration business. He has spoken at numerous technical events around the world and is an expert in Australian Outback Internet.

Check Lars' own blog at larsklint.com and follow him on Twitter @larsklint.