Welcome to the mycamp.rocks newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! 😄
Here’s the deal. I’ll try to be: (1) brief (2) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees. Trying to keep this ad free but I’ve left a spot at the bottom for “misc things”.
You can find this issue on the mycamp.rocks website: https://mycamp.rocks/issue-11
There was some backlash with meetup.com for it’s recent announced pricing changes, which begs the question – how much does your event rely on it or some other website or third party network (Facebook)? Many WordPress and tech meetups do – including mine (many find us through meetup.com). Some meetups do not though and it’s interesting to see the wide range of experiences some organizers were sharing on Twitter after this news broke out.
I am writing more about this and likely will turn into a blog post and a series on this newsletter, but if you run a meetup and do NOT have an independent site for it – ask yourself why. Is it cost? Is it simply not enough time to maintain it? Are you using Slack instead as kind of a “this is where the meetup lives on the digital space”? All of these are valid concerns and legit ideas.
My suggestion would be to get a website of some kind – even if it is a ONE PAGE SITE allows you to get custom email (email@example.com) and a contact form. If you want to get fancy add “past speakers” and other information – this additional information likely will attract future speakers especially if you promote and point folks to your site.
In addition it would in theory offer basic SEO if you use enough content (sometimes someone just needs to find an address). With some SEO and some local connections (and guest speakers who would be happy to “connect” their meetups with yours in promotion or marketing) your reliance on Facebook and meetup.com would at least be reduced. In the long run, I think that’s best for a meetup.
As far as costs go, that’s a different discussion but maybe keep them low enough to ask for donations or include in the entry cost (pizza + website cost).
To speak at a conference or meetup it’s often expected you have a device (that could be a laptop, tablet, or even if possible a mobile device – although for any of these you want to confirm with organizers that these will work with venue projectors and connections… or what dongles you need).
Putting aside the presentation device itself, here’s a few thoughts on other tools:
- It’s cool – especially for developers – to use a browser based fancy animation tool. In my experience this isn’t hated by tech conference organizers but it’s slightly more problematic depending on how slides are reviewed and what transcribing services might be available at the event. I doubt this is a problem for causal meetups though. Either way it’s likely you might need to generate an alt source (PDF) if conference organizers request it (and a good idea in case WiFi or your own machine goes down).
- “Clickers” allow you to physically pace in front of a stage or at least move away from your laptop. Remote clickers can get fancy but my biggest rule is avoid the “line of sight” ones (usually the cheapest of the bunch). Bluetooth is better and I trust that over a “stick this receiver in the USB port”. Test your clicker in a private setting at the event to make sure things run smoothly and don’t forget to charge it (or bring extra batteries). If you upgrade your laptop to USBC note that your USB clickers might not work as well (I personally had this happen to me) even with dongles.
- In case you were wondering I recently got this remote clicker and it’s awesome. Pricey but has some great special effects.
- Always have a cheap USB drive with your talk on it, and make sure that’s accessible during the conference just in case.
- Some get fancy and auto-tweet very well prepared presentations and slides WHILE they are talking. If you aren’t that confident and someone can send tweets for you, that’s fun and guarantees a live tweeting for your own talk.
- It’s not really a tool, but some bottled water on you (the conference should provide this hopefully).
Be aware of other’s allergies and sensitiveness.
- You’ll be sitting close to others in the audience and standing fairly close at networking events. Be aware of perfume or hairspray or cologne and keep it on modest levels. Many are sensitive and I’ve been to a few conferences where I’ve gotten headaches from the smells. On the other hand, making sure you don’t smell at the end of a long conference (especially in a warm climate) is appreciated.
- If you aren’t allegoric to shellfish or nuts, that’s great but others might be. Conferences have gotten more aware of this in the past years – either by trying to avoid serving such food at the venue or simply warning attendees to limit their contact or bringing in certain food. This won’t stop me from eating certain foods in certain situations mostly outside the venue but washing your hands after handling food is just a general good rule anyway.
Misc. Stuff 🤷♂️
These tips were written and/or gathered by David Bisset, someone who’s been helping organizing conferences (such as WordCamp Miami, but others too) and meetups for over a decade. He’s still learning so share any of your tips and it might be included in a future newsletter.