- Choose the right Meetup Topic
- Choose the right Speaker
- Create an Agenda of your Meetup
- Choose a Meetup Format
- Choose the right Location
- Promote your Meetup
- Event Frequency
- Online Community
- Think positive
- Code of Conduct
- Manage Data
- Retain Meetup Users
- Welcome gift
- After Meetup
Technology has the power to meet everyone’s needs like reaching many people all over the world without moving and with minimal effort, finding and sharing lots of educational materials online.
It would be great to have people from different backgrounds meeting monthly to share their knowledge and passions on a topic.
This is the perfect opportunity to meet new people, discover things, find job opportunities, get inspiration, grow from a professional and human point of view.
But you should not think that it’s easy to organize a tech meetup. You have to think about all sorts of things: you need to find speakers well in advance, to book an appropriate location, to cater for food and drinks, and to face unfortunate but inevitable mishaps.
It’s a full job. But most of us Community Managers do it as a side activity, actually as part of a side job that is being a community manager. And we are often on our own. Fear no more! In this small guide we’ll go through some of the most useful pieces of advice on how to best organize a tech meetup.
Choose the right Meetup Topic
The best way to choose topics that fit both your theme and your community’s needs is by creating a long list of big topics and subtle questions.
Think about what topics and technologies you could see yourself explaining or talking about, and be aware of what technologies your reference companies are using on a wide scale as these are usually good places to start when deciding on a niche.
Best of all though, is to ask your community. Create a survey or simply make straightforward questions as to what they’d like to learn more about!
Choose the right Speaker
The success of a good meetup is linked to the choice of the speaker. You can search for your speaker among work colleagues or experienced people, but also remember that quite often
Many potential great speakers could actually be in your very audience.
So, first of all you should encourage everyone in your community to go on stage to share their ideas and knowledge. To lower their resistance, offer to help them organize their presentation.
Create an Agenda of your Meetup
A detailed description of what people can expect is very important. A good agenda for your tech meetup should contain detailed information about:
- The title of the talks
- Which talk is going to be given at what time
- An abstract for the talks
- The Bio of the speaker
- The list of the sponsors
- An indication of the difficulty level of the meetup
- An indication of the basic knowledge required to attend
Choose a Meetup Format
Choose the format for the meetup that best suits the interests of the public and the topics covered. You can use:
- Talks – a speaker comes and talks about a particular topic, and the audience can ask questions at the end;
- Lightning Talks – multiple speakers come and speak 5-10 minutes on a common topic;
- Workshops – hands-on learning;
- Social – people can hang out and have food and drinks while talking about the common topic.
Our suggestion is to try to alternate your session formats in order to get more people’s attention. By encouraging new ways of engagement, learning, collaboration and networking will make your events more inviting.
Choose the right Location
Choosing the right location is a crucial point in the organization of the meetup as it can make the difference between a satisfied audience and a unhappy one. Look for a location that meets the following requirements:
- It has a projector so that all the attendees can see the information;
- It has a surface such as a screen or blank wall on which the conference planner can display the slides;
- There are tables or stands where technical equipment can be positioned so that attendees don’t stumble upon it;
- A microphone system is provided so that everyone can hear the talks;
- There is enough room to accommodate the registered participants and some extra attendees if possible (there is no way ever to know how many people will attend your events);
- Make sure there is a laptop preconfigured to work with the technical equipment, and that you have a pendrive to transfer all the presentations on it;
- The location is easy and quick to find, can be reached by public and private transport
- There is some basic catering at least, like water and coffee – but it’s better if you can provide pizza and drinks and share the expenses with the participants:
- The local staff should let you check that all the technical equipment is correctly set up before the meetup.
Promote your Meetup
Advertise on whatever communication channel your audience uses, such as:
- Social network (Facebook)
- News service and microblogging (Twitter)
- Instant messaging and broadcasting service (Telegram)
- Business collaboration tools (Slack)
- Services for organizing online groups (Codemotion.com)
If your promotion relies heavily on social media, consider a catchy hashtag you can use whenever you post about the upcoming conference. Don’t forget to encourage your speakers to promote the conference to their audience using their own channels.
Also, choose your event management software wisely, as well as for ticketing software. Look thoroughly for a solution that will actually work for you, granting a lot flexibility and customisation options.
Consider real-time streaming a part of your meetup – if not the entirety (results may vary depending on the type of data connection), that includes the images of any presentation going on the main screen and the audio in the room.
Today you can think of using a smartphone, a laptop or a tablet to stream through social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch, or you can choose live streaming platforms that broadcast and record the event. The benefits of this choice are:
- The opportunity to ensure the participation of any expert in the subject who otherwise could not attend;
- The possibility to reach a much wider audience;
- Making the event more dynamic by increasing the interaction between speakers and participants.
Finally, remember to make a local backup of your high-definition videos as the archive can be shared and used in the future for future training purposes – as well as evidence for the promotion of other events.
When you’re hosting a conference you wish to leave a good impression on your attendees. But how do you know if you achieved that? Well, you can take feedback using a simple survey. You can choose from a variety of question formats, from multiple choice to rating scales, or mix several formats within a survey to accomplish your goal.
What truly matters is to get people involved since the organization process of the meetup so that everyone will feel more motivated to leave their feedback and even make suggestions for the future.
Strategically, it is better if you ask for your attendee’s feedback immediately after the event is over, while the experience is still fresh in their minds. The feedback you get will help to provide better content each month and broaden your context.
Regular events will help attendees to schedule in advance their participation and save the dates in their calendars.
Organizing a meetup implies time, coordination with locations, local companies and brainstorming of various event formats. Therefore, making your meetup a regular and recurrent event can be very convenient for you as well as it will give you a much clearer framework to work in.
What comes fist, the chicken or the egg? Meetup are great occasions for reinforcing your community and to provide your members with value and networking opportunities. But they can also be a great opportunity to build a community from scratch.
Of course, it is much easier to gather tour community members at an event rather than gather people and then convince them to join a newly born community. So, if you intent to leverage meetups to create a community, first make sure that you can reach a wide audience and that your contents are going to be great.
It is not possible to foresee all the problems related to the organization of a meetup, but trust me when I say there are going to be many! So a positive attitude to problem solving is quintessential. And if you are that kind of person that has to have everything under constant control, then expect anything to go wrong and have immediate alternatives ready at your finger tips.
For instance, what can you do if your speaker quits at the very last minute or the location is locked because there’s a water leakage? So keep calm, be creative and be ready to act quickly.
Sponsors can provide for the location and/or the catering, which make your life a lot easier. And a good sponsor also gives a context to your meetup. But what makes a good sponsor?
Well, a good sponsor is non-intrusive, engaged in your topic, respectful of all your attendees and doesn’t pull marketing stunts.
To find sponsors, start by looking at who has sponsored events with the same topic of your community or meetup. Carefully choose sponsors in order to provide a good experience to your attendees. You should always keep in mind that your potential sponsor’s values should align with those of your community.
Decide in advance and agree with them on how much space for intervention they should have during the event. And consider if allowing their branding and logo to appear everywhere would be counterproductive. And in case you give up some of your space, are they able to bring in high-level speakers?
Last but not least, remember that it’s fine to get funded just as long as you don’t give up the integrity of your community or event. You must always know where to draw a line in order not to lose your credibility.
You shouldn’t overload attendees with emails and messages. Keep only a few timely reminders for everyone.
In the premises, use printed signs to help everyone find their way around. Share a Code of Conduct with everyone and make it completely clear that those who’ll break it will be immediately requested to leave.
Have all your participants check in as you‘ll want to track how many people attended. Use the meetup to make sure that you have all the attendees’ email addresses so you can share with them the materials and some extra information once the event is over – and of course to announce future events.
Most of all, to make them feel that you care, always, always, always reply to their feedback.
Code of Conduct
A Code of Conduct is a set of a few simple rules than can help you better manage your meetup and make your attendees fell safe. It generally applies to all attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers who take part to your meetup. You, the organizer, will enforce the code throughout the event. Expect cooperation from all participants to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
Your event produces a massive amount of content and data, not only from your side but also from your partners’ and attendees’. Don’t let it flow through your finger. Rather use it to create post-event videos/photos, quick wrap-ups of the sessions, value added pieces of data to your attendees, for example how many meetings did they have. Ask your partners whether they might be interested in sharing a report or making an official announcement through your channels.
Keep track of all the data resulting from your event such as the number of people registered, the number of people in the room, the number of questions asked, the number of people present during the networking time; you and your team will be able to generate statistics and understand how to improve upcoming events.
Retain Meetup Users
One way to engage attendees and members of your community is to use a gamification method. Rewarding the most active users is a great way to make people participate in the development of the “Community” project and to thank them for their work and dedication.
Benefits of gamification:
- Capture the attention of the attendees
- Make the event more dynamic
Depending on the size of the conference, a nice gift bag is always appreciated by attendees. This should include the event agenda, identification information (even if only a name tag or QRcode) and any small gift (brooches, stickers, T-shirts, etc.).
Getting off radar after the event is over is probably the worst mistake an event organizer can do. Don’t let your event live in a bubble. Continue the discussion over social media, emails to partners and attendees, or more informal meet-ups that may occur out of the event.
If you really want to make sure the conversation continues send out regular newsletters reiterating what has happened at the event and updates about your next edition.
These tips are intended to provide ideas on how to manage and improve the quality of your events. Being an event organizer is a difficult but also rewarding task.