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?Edit

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 DiscussEdit

  • 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?Edit

  • 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?Edit

Steal Ideas from other EventsEdit

  • 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 FeedbackEdit

  • 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 eventsEdit

  • 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 CommunityEdit

  • 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 FoodEdit

  • 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 BreakersEdit

To know and interact with people in spaceEdit

  • 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 MovingEdit

  • 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 
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