Issue #24

Welcome to the newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! ๐Ÿ˜„ I try to be: (1) brief (2) ad free and (3) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees.

Feedback: (1) ping me on Twitter (2) email me (3) i’m going to leave comments open for now for approximately a week on the website posts if you want to leave your own feedback/$0.02.

Thank you! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

You can find this issue on the website:

Todayโ€™s Topics: Organizer meetings and communication, speakers giving consideration for other speakers, and cleaning up your own mess.

Organizers ๐Ÿ˜Š

Let’s get more technical and talk about establishing how to set standards and guidelines when communicating with your organization team. This should be spelled out from day one in a document shared by the team (allowing for input). You would probably think “I don’t have a problem with communication” but you would be surprised how many conference and WordCamp teams don’t have a set standard of how and when to communicate and hold meetings.

Ever had meetings not really FEEL productive? They are going on TOO LONG? Then perhaps this is the material for you.

We have talked about having open communication in the past – if you haven’t read that newsletter… please do so! But that is not the focus of what we are talking about today.

I thought it would be nice to share a “template” or a model from a document i’ve used for some (but not all) conference organization. Feel free to use as much (or little) of this in establishing communication for your meetup or conference team.

What To Document

Literally I’m pulling most of this text from the public document I share with conference teams. Imagine you are part of the team and reading this in a Google doc.

Technologies: Zoom will be used for calls, and will be recorded. Google Drive is used to house documents (such as this one), spreadsheets, and budget. A dedicated Slack channel is provided for standard communication and decision making (along with sharing and pinning of links to critical documents), using emails sparingly and with good common sense. 

Frequency: Calls will be conducted on every Friday at 2:30pm ET (organizer groups can agree in Slack to โ€œskip a callโ€ for the week if majority rules). Additional specific calls for teams (those involved with speaker selection for example can be scheduled separately but all calls are made known to organizers and all organizers are welcome).

Call Notes: One person every week volunteers to take notes for the call. The notes are posted in Slack within 24 hours of the call, and organizer team can submit edits/additions to the notes within 48 hours to ensure noteโ€™s accuracy.

Agenda: An agenda should be proposed approximately 3-5 days prior to the scheduled call (a good target would be to have an agenda by Monday if a call is planned on Friday). Organizer team has the ability in Slack to suggest changes while noting the agreed upon time length of the call. Agenda should be finalized 3 days prior to call to give team time to prepare. Any new proposed items to the agenda can happen in Slack, be slotted to be covered in the upcoming call if there is additional time, or scheduled for a future call. Note that items added to the agenda should be (1) covered initially in Slack, and if possible discussed in Slack (2) brought to the call to propose final feedback or direction.

Call Length: Standard one hour call length, which can vary depending on needs. Most critical items should be covered within the length however.

Call MC: Each call will have a MC whoโ€™s primary purpose is to keep the call โ€œmovingโ€ so that the agenda can be covered in the call. An organizer can volunteer to be MC of the call at the same time the agenda is finalized – a MC should not be a key person to provide updates during the call. In other words, if the call is primary a speaker update then the MC shouldnโ€™t be on the speaker/programming team.

Code of Conduct: Organizerโ€™s calls are subject to the same code of conduct as the conference itself. [LINK TO CODE OF CONDUCT HERE]

Typical Outline For Organizer Call:

  1. Introductions & Small Talk (2-3 min)
  2. Talking Point Number One (20 min)
  3. Talking Point Number Two (20 min)
  4. โ€œLast Minute Topics Not In Agendaโ€) (?? min)
  5. Confirming Next Agenda (5 min) Based on points that were documented and labeled โ€œnext callโ€ during current call.
  6. โ€œAny Final Commentsโ€ (5-10 min) – This should be an opportunity for those who havenโ€™t had much โ€œcall timeโ€ to speak up, although the focus of this section would not be to re-hash previous discussed points to topics on the agenda. We should make sure everyone on the call gets a chance to share general thoughts and feedback.
  7. Closing & Reminder Of Next Call Time/Date – This helps confirm in case people will be out of town, and also that calendar invites have been sent (and soon after accepted).

Final comments: Good “weekly” or regular calls with the team usually require preparation by having “mini” check-ins or meetings with various groups. Preparation is the key word here. Don’t expect team members to just walk into a call able to inform. Make sure conference organizers (like perhaps yourself) open the call to questions in chat before the call to further prepare those who need to answer such questions. Follow up with those people who need to get the answer to any unanswered questions after the call.

Speakers ๐ŸŽค

Here are three ways to be considerate to your fellow speakers.

  • Watch your time – especially if a speaker follows your talk. Although organizers should have measures in place to remind speakers that their time is running out, I’ve seen a few rare cases where speakers ignore this! Maybe they were “in the moment”. But there should be no excuse for running overtime (if you started late, check with room MC or organizers what your time if adjusted is – deal with discussions about the adjustment after your talk). Avoid being late. Avoiding taking time from a future speaker when possible is a nice way to show consideration.
  • Got extra dongles, clickers, or equipment? If there’s a private channel for the conference let your speakers know you have various things in case of emergencies. If you are in the room with a speaker setting up and seeing trouble, read the situation and if the venue or conference volunteers appear to need a hand with something you have in your bag – perhaps that’s a time to offer.
  • In a panel or open discussion with other speakers? Don’t hog the time and be mindful to allow others to share their voice. Sometimes this requires tactfully including other panelists into the conversation or response to an asked question.

Attendees ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ

  • Don’t leave your area a mess. Really simple – if you are leaving your seat or table make sure to grab any coffee cups, water bottles, papers, etc. Sadly when a conference closes I see a lot of trash (and items needing to be added to a lost and found) left behind in seats. Just be mindful of your space and bonus points if you can grab trash on your way out of your row or the room. Conference organizers will appreciate this.

Misc. Stuff ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

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.