2020 has been officially announced as a year of Community Creators. Being a member of a social media group is just not enough anymore. Beautiful minds long for physical interaction. Exchanging the stream of thoughts relocates from internet to reality. I dedicate this article to all the planning necessary to organize a Technology Meetup.
It appears that event planning is a challenge not any different from organising a wedding. You need to make sure guests are welcome and they have an agenda filled with activities they enjoy. Food for thought ought to be accompanied by tasty treats to satisfy the stomachs and throats, too.
How to avoid pitfalls awaiting at almost every corner? Start from writing down a high-level agenda. List all the most important tasks to be ticked once they are sorted. I gathered subjective DIY notes below. They will guide you through the planning process.
Your Marketing Strategy
Start from creating an event page on Meetup.com. Announce it on social media allowing your contacts to share it, comment or tag. The more interactions it gets, the better. Be visible on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. Be visible everywhere. If it’s not online, it doesn’t exist.
Another good idea is to get a big poster or banner that people can pass by. Be wise where you place it. If you do it right and target the right audience - it will extend your outreach significantly. You may also allure the visitors by inviting them to the event during lighting talks at other community events like Haxorz or MeetJS.
The next task to do in advance is to arrange a photographer who will capture the scenes and provide a great catalogue of high-quality photos. Boost your inventory by recording videos and brief interviews during the event. All such artefacts will serve as your marketing collateral for the next occasions when they come. Make sure you record the presentations - they are the essence of the day after all and a proof that it was worth it.
Learned by experience - the place where you hold your event should be chosen wisely. Following the Selleo Way, the agile office serves as a perfect spot for enthusiastic gathering. Once you have the venue sorted, specify the date and time accompanied by a printed agenda. Get ahold of a set of name tags. Knowing at least a name of the person you are exchanging thoughts with, makes a huge difference. Make sure you make the wifi connection credentials accessible and clearly visible to everyone. We all like to stay connected.
Another task is arranging the event space itself with a sufficient number of seats and tables. Print the furniture map in a bunch of copies. Sketch and consider various configurations. Make sure you put the navigating marks around to make sure everyone finds their way to the tasty refreshments and the restroom. While we are on a topic of food and drink - every innovative mind needs some fuel. When it’s good, it fills up stomachs triggering positive emotions and only the best ideas.
One last thing - arrange a space for some team-building activities like contests or games. The prize could be a customized t-shirt or any funny yet pragmatic object like ping-pong balls or funny stickers.
Let’s take a step backwards now and focus on the content of the event itself. Developing strategies for marketing and seating plan seems to be a piece of cake. An attempt to choose the right leading topic of your meetup is a real challenge. Do not combine themes counting on a bigger audience. If your head is bursting from ideas, calm them down and prioritise into a tidy schedule. Once you are certain about the core idea, it’s time to make sure you have the right people with the right skills and expertise in the proposed subject. The speakers will create the content of the event and attract the rest of the guests. Their presentations and speeches will be essential, yet it is worth to organise a time and space for collaborative activities, too. They may be in the form of World Café, Workshops or Hackathon. Group discussions are where great ideas emerge. Sprint programming sessions work just like adrenaline buzz. It’s the joy and stimulation that your visitors want to remember and your goal is to create their memories.
We all like to be greeted well and feel like long-expected guest upon arrival. Follow this simple rule to avoid disappointments. If you are organising the meetup in a workplace, make sure the attendees can only access public space. The rest of the area should remain secure and confidential.
A skilled event host can make wonders. They are like true magicians. They should be able to entertain, amaze and guide the audience through the ceremony agenda.
Finally, it is worth to foresee the plan for the aftermath. Cool event takeaways are just the bright side of this story. The darker side is the state of the venue after everyone leaves. Yes, the place will definitely need a good clean up service and this is where a good planner has an opportunity to show off. You may hire a professional service, rely on a current provider or gather your pals to save funds in your pocket.
The wise men say that knowledge seeks community. This is where the online focus group comes into play. Gathering the members of virtual networks on a Meetup or great event like BBDays4IT goes far ahead and explore great new territories. In the end, we are human beings that long for physical interactions.