How to organize a tech meetup: our experience

How to organize a tech meetup: our experience

Are you a Ruby on Rails developer striving for knowledge and looking for like-minded people? Or maybe you want to create your own meetup but don’t know how?

We used to be like you… And then we thought “What if we create a Ruby Meetup?”

And we did!

Now we are happy to share our experience in the organization of Ruby Meetup.

 

What is a tech meetup

When we talk about meetups, we mean any event where a group of like-minded people can listen to experts, share experiences, and simply communicate.

The key difference in TECH meetup is their technological approach. You can talk about blockchain, artificial intelligence, software development, and programming languages…anything that you would call “tech”.

 

As a Ruby on Rails development company, we organize Ruby meetups and create an active Ruby community to share knowledge and experiences with this technology. At this point, we’ve held a number of tech meetups, and we would like to share some of our insights with you.

Ruby meetups are popular worldwide, especially in large cities:

  1. Melbourne Ruby
  2. London Ruby User Group
  3. Chicago Ruby
  4. Ruby Paris
  5. San Francisco Ruby Meetup

These meetups have a vivid community, hold events at least once a month, and are popular both in cities and suburbs.

 

How to create your own meetup

You may not predict every single detail and foresee every danger, but at least you can draw up a plan.

Here we are sharing our step by step process.

The very beginning

Before you start, consider the niche you are going to work with. Different tech communities require different approaches. They may be:

  • Active. Let’s say you are going to set up a Python community. Check out popular social networks and forums, search for Python positions in your region, or even visit IT schools’ websites – the bigger the demand, the more chances that you will get active meetup participants.
  • Inactive. Such audiences require additional preparations from your side. In this case, you’ll need to create your community from scratch. We are not saying it’s impossible to gather a successful meetup if the community is still raw, but we are warning that you’ll have to invest a bit more of your efforts here.

Our experience: Once we started, we understood how lucky we were to work with growing technology: the Ruby community in Kharkiv was alive and communicative. When we created a chat for our meetup, it gained over 100 active participants in just a couple weeks.

 

Choosing the formats

There is nothing wrong with speeches–people like them. But if you are looking for some fresh ideas, especially after organizing several similar meetups, you can change the format. Add some panel talks or workshops to make your event more interactive.

We tried out a few alternative tech meeting formats like workshops and lightning talks. A bit more on this below:

  • Workshops

We experimented with workshop format at our 4th Ruby meetup. The interactivity is a key feature of workshops, and it allows your guests to participate, too.

Our advice: Make sure your audience is prepared and aware of the format of the event. If they’re not, it can be hard to organize the process: people may forget notebooks, devices, even lose the mood to work… All of this will slow down the whole process. So be careful when getting your audience ready. We’d recommend informing your visitors about the new format at the moment of registration and set up email or message notifications closer to the event.

  • Lightning talks

The other format we are practicing is the lightning talk. These are short, spontaneous presentations by our audience at which everyone has an opportunity to give a short speech of about 5-10 minutes.

Our advice: Some people may be experienced professionals but not very good speakers. Therefore, it is better to set up a time limit for any speech so that you can get the most from your opportunity and keep your audience engaged.

Truth be told, this format appeared to be the most interactive and popular, provoking a lot of dialogue among the participants.

 

Find good speakers

Imagine your perfect speaker: one who is a professional at what he or she does, has vast experience and is willing to share it. That person is a good teacher who can engage an audience.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it? But in real life, such a person may be busy or simply hard to reach. There is a long way to go before you find your perfect tech speaker.

Tips:

  1. Topic agreement and rehearsals. Talk with your speaker beforehand and discuss the topic of the speech. If you can, arrange a rehearsal so you can evaluate the performance.
  2. Social network polls. Suggest that participants take part in Facebook or Telegram polls whereby they choose the topics for the upcoming event. Ask those who do not like the proposals to specify what they want to hear in the comments section.
  3. Feedback forms. It is a good idea to use feedback forms during registration to find out what people want to talk about during the next meetup.
  4. Study your market and attract experts. Do your homework. Search through the forums to learn what is popular and relevant in the global community, talk with possible speakers and choose the ones with the most relevant topics. It also would be a good idea to speak to your lead IT specialist or even CTO to create a meetup agenda and choose the topics.

 

Choose a strategic location

Find a location, that:

  1. Has everything you need: a projector, a screen, enough room for everyone
  2. Is easy and quick to find
  3. Has stable transportation
  4. Can offer food and drinks

A good choice is any co-working or free space, or even a hotel.

 

Promote your meetup

Advertise with whatever communication channels your audience uses, such as social networks, emails, forums, etc. For promoting our ruby tech events, we chose:

  • Facebook
  • Meetup.com
  • DOU community
  • Telegram channel

Once your meetup becomes successful and regular, you can consider word-of-mouth as an additional promotional tool.

 

Create an online community

Our meetups have helped create an offline page for our Rails community, which makes it “real.” But at the same time, it is necessary to create an online community because it helps us bring people together and allows them to talk not only during meetups but between our meetings as well. Therefore, you’ll attract a stronger and more active community.

Our experience:

We bet on social networks and made the right call: In our online community, people started to communicate, share some articles and raise questions for discussion. In the end, our online community helped us keep people involved offline. And it is really satisfying to see as someone shares, for instance, news or articles during our Telegram chats — that means we are moving in the right direction.

 

Get ready for anything

Some of your speakers may cancel their participation at the last minute, or something may go wrong with your perfect location. Unfortunately, you can’t foresee these situations, but you can do something to hedge your bet: Try to line up alternate speakers for any emergency or hold rehearsals for the actual ones.

Remember: Anything can happen. A good host can anticipate problems, but it’s impossible to predict everything. So keep calm and be ready to act quickly.

 

Our results: Kharkiv.rb #4

To conclude our blog post, we are happy to share our experiences with you!

We hold our meetups at our headquarters, in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

So far, our Ruby meetups:

  1. Are held every other month
  2. Are carried out in the form of speeches, workshops and lightning talks
  3. Have an active online community involved in Telegram chats
  4. Have about 60 people attending each event
  5. Have a 59% attendance conversion

get free consultation
Alex Morgunov

Alex Morgunov

Project Lead

Subscribe to our blog