Rules to Running Better User Groups

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  1. Do you book a venue a month ahead?

    At least a month before a user group talk the room for the presentation should be booked.​

    1. Book the room at the venue via a phone call
    2. Send a meeting request "​as per our conversation" to reserve the room to the admin staff at the venue, cc the presenter and the user group organizer
    3. If a speaker has not yet been appointed for the month, add them to the appointment when they are booked in
  2. Do you confirm with the venue on the day of the presentation? (or the day before if it’s a morning presentation)

    Make sure that the venue is prepared for the speaker to arrive.

    On the day of the presentation (or the day before for a morning presentation).

    1. Call the venue and confirm the room will be available and that the seating will be organised in a 'lecture' or 'classroom'​ style
    2. Send an as per our conversation email to the admin staff at the venue, cc the presenter and the user group organiser.​​
  3. Do you ensure the speaker is aware of their social media responsibilities?

    Many of our speakers have hundreds or thousands of followers on social media. To get the best attendance for the user group the speaker should announce on through as many media channels as possible that they are presenting at the user group.

  4. Do you inform the speaker of venue specific details before the presentation?

    Each venue is a little different and has different requirements. Don’t expect presenters to know how each user group runs, especially if the user group organisers will not be available on the day/night.


    ​​For example:

    Sydney .NET User Group Presenter Information

    1. Presenters will require a HDMI output, you will need an adaptor if you do not have this output.

    Canberra .NET User​​​​ Group Presen​​ter Information

    1. Presenters will require a VGA output on their laptops, or​ an adapter for VGA
    2. The Microsoft Canberra reception staff will not be available after 5pm so arrive at 4.45 and make sure that that you can get your laptop outputting connected to the projector correctly
    3. Set up early and then wait to greet people at the front door until 5.30 pm, otherwise it is not clear that the user group is on

    Brisbane .NET User Group Presenter Inform​​ation
    1. ​​​Presenters will require a HDMI output, you will need an adaptor if you do not have this output.​​

    Melbourne .NET User Group Presenter Information

    1. ​​​​​Presenters will require a HDMI output, you will need an adaptor if you do not have this output.​​​
  5. Promotion - Do People Know About Your Event

    How are you going to have a successful event if no one shows up? ​​

    You will have to promote your event in a way that makes sense to your topic and approach. The most cost effective way is to use the large variety of online services that are available.

    Meetup

    This is the best way to increase discoverability of your event. Meetup provides the following:

    • Allows people to search and discover​ events
    • Allows people to join your group to get updates
    • You can easily list your upcoming events and have people join them
    • Comes with an automatic mailing list so you can send out announcements

    Word of Mouth

    Don't underestimate the power of one friend or colleague telling another. DDD Melbourne sold out in 10 hours with almost no promotion except for Twitter and Word of Mouth. If you are creating a recurring event, Word of Mouth becomes extremely important as past experiences flow through the grapevine.

    Social Media

    In some circumstances it is worth setting up one or more accounts on social media for promoting and corresponding as the event identity. In technical circles it is especially popular to use Twitter as a way to create awareness about events. SSW use a combination of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to promote our events, that way we have a much larger and diverse audience to draw from.​​

    TIP: Get your staff to Tweet at events and to Re-Tweet your events to help reach a larger audience! ​


  6. Do you Promote your User Groups using Social Media?

    ​​​​​Do you need to increase the attendance at your User Groups?

    A great way to increase your over all audience, as well as your attendance at each User Group, is to use social media and online forums like MeetUp​ to advertise your events. At SSW we use MeetUp, as well as the social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to announce all of our upcoming User Groups and keep track of attendance.  

    Tweet UG.jpg     Figure: An example of SSW promoting the .NET User Group on Twitter.

    ​You can read more about promoting your events here in our Rules to Better Twitter (plus Facebook and other Social Networking) and in Promotion - Do People Know About Your Event. ​



  7. Do you organize the audience when numbers are low?

    Audience shots are great except when you don’t have a full house.​​ In this case you should move people to be next to each other.
    bad-audience.jpg
    Figure: Bad example – the audience shot shows the bad numbers. It would be better to not use this view
    bad-audience-2.jpg
    Figure: Bad example – the audience shot shows the bad numbers. You want to use this wide shot, but you need to make sure the attendees not in the shot are moved so their head is visible
    good-audience.jpg
    Figure: Good example – a shot from the SSW Chapel​ where the audience has been moved so they are in shot
    ​​
  8. How Are You Collecting Feedback?

    ​In order to make your next event even better, you need to be able to collect feedback on the day from the people that were there. ​

    There are a few options on how to collect the information.

    • Use a feedback form such as the one from SSW
    • Set up an online survey using services like TypeForm

    The best time​ to get attendees to fill out the feedback form is before the last session of the event. This is when people are still reasonably engaged and the people wanting to leave early haven't left yet.

    ​Sometimes it is also worth getting attendees to evaluate individual speakers. This can be done with something as simple as red, yellow and green tokens to indicate how well a speaker did after each talk, or you can set up an elaborate online rating system. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve and what information you need.

  9. Do you bring evaluation forms to every event you speak at?

    ​The best way to find out how your clients and customers think about you is to ask them. If you're not up to putting your pride on the line by asking them yourself then the next best way is to use surveys or evaluation forms. It's discrete, impartial and gives the evaluator a chance to add comments that may be difficult to say to you in person.

    ​​At SSW we bring our eval forms to every event we run or speak at. This allows us to reflect on our performance and run some quantitative analysis on the survey results. Take a look at our Speakers and Presentation Evaluation Form.​

  10. Do you evaluate your event feedback?

    ​​​​​After the event it is also critical that you analyse the feedback. Why else would you be gathering it? ​​

    ​Look for trends in the data and evaluate what you can do better next time and what you should possibly leave out. ​​​​

    ​You should then send a retrospective email to relevant team members, and let them know how you feel the event went, and ask for their​ feedback. 

    Remember to include important feedback like:

    • ​Any great comments from the evaluation forms
    • Any not so great feedback from the evaluation forms
    • Points for improvement 
    • Stats on the free demand generation (how 'Go​o​gleable' is your event)
    • Stats on the paid demand generation (if applicable) 
    • The demand generation of the speaker (for example did they Tweet your event & what engagement did it​ get)