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By Eric Harlan
Published: June 16, 2012
Updated: July 2, 2012
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We have heard this question asked more times than we can count. As a matter of fact, many of us have been the ones to ask this question in the past as well.

Prior to Microsoft

Being involved in our respective communities heavily prior to joining Microsoft lead us to understand some very important facts.  The fact that there were many more events that required speakers than there were speakers to go around.  This was very apparent to us as user group organizers and conference organizers.  The question would always come up “Where is Microsoft”. This question still comes up to this day but its focus in the speaking community is centered around face time and attendance at events.

Enter Project Aware.  The goals of Project Aware are painfully simple and there are only two of them.

1)    Educate Microsoft Employees who WANT to speak and give them the tools both internally at Microsoft and externally in their respective communities in order TO speak.

Secondly and most importantly:

2)    Have a one stop location for all event hosts (user groups, conferences, etc) to go to actually FIND willing Microsoft Speakers (

That’s it.  But wow is that powerful.

Bridging the Gap
The main reason organizers have a hard time getting ahold of Microsoft speakers is for the most part, most organizers don’t understand our corporate model.  The assumption is that funding is provided at the technology vertical level when in fact it is provided at the very low team and regional level.  Product groups are inundated with requests to send speakers and their budget just doesn’t afford this luxury.  

The other side of the shortage comes from organizers not knowing WHERE to find potential speakers. If speakers are not networked previously or they are widely unknown, the requests never come and it is up to the speaker themselves to reach out.  With the amount of travel a given Microsoft employee already does the range in where a speaker will speak as well as their impact can be easily achievable.

The Result

Quite simply the result of Project Aware is to bring the joy of speaking about technology to employees that would otherwise be too shy, timid or reluctant.  Provide organizers of user groups to major conferences a virtual rolodex to reach out and get Microsoft SME’s to speak at their event. And ultimately give back to thousands of people worldwide what has been afforded to us


Short and simple if you’re an event coordinator and you’re looking for some potential Microsoft speakers try going to MSTC and do a quick search on the technology you are looking for and the area where your event is being held.  The only negative to this is HOPEFULLY, you’ll no longer be able to ask “Where is Microsoft”.

As a secondary, if you are a technology speaker (any technology) you can also register as a speaker!

Below is a quick video on how to register and search for speakers.


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