Community Leadership Summit Wiki

Event Format for Wicked Awesome User Groups and Meetups

Proposers & Note Takers: Eli (Netsquared) & Ed (Mifos)

Who's Here and What's Your Favorite Flavor of Events?[]

Name, location and favorite event format

  • Hiro: organize meetups - 30 or 40 people coming together for technical semniars. 
  • Ward: organize events
  • Nela (Kaltura)
  • Ruthie (Drupal Association)
  • Drupal Association Member from Denmark: User Meetups - Brewww - beer tasting and tech talks
  • Jason (Drupal Portland lead) - Brewpal - meetup where people come together and work on and get questions answered.
    • Meetups - traditional sales presentation format
    • Site-building competition
    • Meetings out west where people watch videos from past conferences and discuss. 
  • Neil 
  • B

ritta: jailbreaking ecosystem, yearly conference but no meetups

  • Jeffry Taylor: European side of video blogger community --> Vlog Europe - head of events for be my app - favorite is live coding hackathons.
  • Jeff Potts -  Alfresco - run annual conferences and do in-person meetups, do office hours/hangouts on the air. 
  • Shelley (OCLC): no favorite event format
  • Randall Ross (Ubuntu Vancouver) - favorite events are social events that exclude technology - no laptops allowed - will radiate :)
  • Ferdinand- run ted-like conferences for developers, only a few per year. Would like to have Paris version of NY Tech Meetup - already have 500 signups/250 attendees. 
    • Likes meetups because deal with all type of tech. 
  • Sheri Dover: organize events to encourage entrepreneurship - alumni affairs for Portland Startup weekend, TIE Portland, Women Founders Forum

Do panels or informal meetups.

  • Stefano: work at openstack, run two large events per year, biz conference and then gathering of developers to define roadmap for next six months like Ubuntu 
    • D

evelopers Summit - wide network of meeting groups.

    • Favorite format - loose program with short presentations - lots of time for people to chat
  • Asheesh: SF - unstructured nights i.e. python user groups
  • Andrea: wordpress project - wordcamp - favorite is 20 minute presentation, ten minute qa, 10 minute break all day long
  • Other Favorite Formats:
    • Community-run user groups
  • Daniel: go to a lot of user groupsBryan: go aot a lot of user groups
  • Emily: Drupal - like where people summit sessions and vote on (un conference)
  • Dave Nielsen (Hackathons)
  • Molly: Speedgeeking - 10 minute presentations where rotate amongst groups - do it 4 times
  • Barbara: Oakland - still figuring out favorite format
  • Stephanie: likes hallway chat
  • Jacob (Drupal): like crowdsourced, semi-structured online sessions
  • Eric SF/Sacramento - unconference format
  • Pernilla: graph cafe - do talks and people draw graphs on tables 
  • Erica (Moz): Mozcations - audience votes on where they're going from Milwauke to South Africa. 

What We Want To Discuss[]

  • How to get new users to interact
  • At first conference, how do you get people to go to stuff - breaking the ice
  • How do you engage with group members in between meetups?
  • Are there resources for more creative ideas? 

How do we maxmize engagement for attendees at first time events?[]

  • Takeaways


    • Engage with people in a personal way
    • Make sure there's high commitment before the event and people feel welcomed.
  • Randall and his process for Ubuntu meetups:

    • Before event: High commitment: Use Meetup:Know who's coming and know what they want to explore before they arrive in-person (require real names on
      • Have a minimal cost for event - OADI - occasional anonymous drop-in - have a hard time accommodating them because can be overwhelmed
    • At event: door-welcoming committee that acknowledges them and thanks them for coming. 
      • Have a hospitality team (silent invisible bouncers) - unidentified members of group that make sure each new person has a comfortable experience. 
        • Also identify people that are making others feel comfortable
        • Bond people together who are very talkative with not too talkative
        • Helps make people feel more at ease. 
        • Can circulate some documentation on they create these times. 
  • Dave: email before the event - outline what they offer to first-time attendees so people feel that they're very welcome, have a door greeters
  • Forced engagement: at each table, have you present your problem and discuss what you want:
    • Randall - some time introverts don't want the spotlight
  • Daniel: Don't scare off people who want to just try stuff out: Low commitment at the start - Choosing between multiple formats when trying out a user group - hate, doesn't like RSVP, getting email updates. 
  • Sheri: want a couple people who engage - who go out and interact with people and make sure nobody is left out. 
  • High Barriers to Entry (Force Commitment)
    • LinuxFest NorthWest: Want to still keep it free but don't want it bogged down by freeloaders who are anonymous and don't want to participate 

How do you get new event ideas?[]

Steal Ideas from other Events[]

  • Go to a lot of events and steal ideas
  • In portland look at Calagator. 
  • Asheesh: try to document this on openhatch domain -
    • Discussion List for newcomer-friendly events
    • Creating an outreach cookbook that summarizes these event guidelines
  • Eli: Organizers Handbook on 

Event Feedback[]

  • Go to the live backchannel to get the real honest feedback about the event. 
  • Live on-screen behind presenter 
  • Following and summarizing hashtags from events
  • Tools: rowfeeder ( - puts this into google spreadsheet for easier analysis. 
  • Make sure to set this up before hand. 

Polls at events[]

  • Randall: Best ideas come from group itself and polls
    • Do post-event evaluation about what they liked, what they want to see, how to improve. 
    • Listen and qualify feedback to make sure its valid and valuable
    • Eli: at-event surveys are better than post-event ones. 
  • Asheesh: Chips in a bowl at PyCon events - put chips in a poll if you like event.
    • Pernilla: red, yello, or green objects. 
  • Tweetpoll - live results during events
  • Portland Netsquared: back of nametag - have responses on what you did or didn't like - get a good overview sense of what people have to say aobut events.
  • Jeff: Hold t-shirt (or any SWAG)  hostage at the event to get surveys
    • People will do anything for a free t-shirt or an owl sticker (hootsuite)

Internally in your Community[]

  • Monthly Dinner with Meetup Organizers to brainstorm organizers
  • Come up with sexy names - DrupalHagen instead of Drupal Camp Copenhagen.
  • Eli: goes to his community and mailing list to get ideas
  • While at the bar during live events, discussing what people do. 
  • (Take notes before you walk home so you don't forget the idea)
  • Open-mic style events about failures
  • Experiment and Take Risks
  • Dave/Pernilla: don't try to be perfect, don't be afraid to experiment and try new events
  • When people put their energy into something you can see that and people respond and want to get involved. 


Best Practices on Food[]

  • Pizza is cost-effective
    • Erica: in Seattle - no pizza at meetups format. 
  • Things that stay warm
  • Hummus
    • Eli: no hummus rule - wants no hippies at events
  • Open Source Bridge - asheesh - falafel, shawarma, vietnamese sandwiches
  • Dave: Celeries, carrots, vegetables - only hungry people will eat them. 
  • Daniel: don't have beer if you don't have food

Ice Breakers[]

To know and interact with people in space[]

  • Tables at each topic - encourage people to sit ones they're interested in
    • Need to make sure there are topicless tables too. 
  • UnPanels - low investment
    • One session with everybody at beginning
    • Write down all the questions that people want to discuss
    • Seek out experts knowledgable enough to answer questions - could then also rotate other people in. 
    • Now have questions and panelists
  • 3 Words - introduce yourself with three words
    • Did this at very first FooCamp
  • Blank Badges that you fill up
    • Rubber stamps
    • Buttons with graphics and words - 
  • Newbie buttons on lanyards
  • OSCON with ribbons to denote folks
  • Social Bingo/Scavenger Hunt
    • i.e. find someone where software t-shirt, find someone with certain badge

To Warm People Up and Get Moving[]

  • Give people the wrong badge and have to find the person who's badge you've got.
    • Or you give people a name to find
  • Rock Paper Scissors
  • Giant question balls
    • Inflatable ball with a bunch of questions - throw it around the group - when you catch it wherever your right thumb lands you have to answer the question
  • Assassins - have to go seek out new people at the conference and target them.
    • Give people a list of little-known facts before the event - have to find the people who's facts they belong to. 
  • Value of a good MC and someone who can help the event flow and get people interacting - being kind and firm.
  • Sunlight Labs: Prize for finding people with certain criteria