Table of contents
Disclaimer : Rural Ireland Tech Advocates is a diverse group of individuals brought together by the love of their respective counties. This guide is a work in progress and will be updated throughout the year.
Who is this guide for?
This guide was originally suggested by Evan Smith as an internal guide which our advocates could use to organise or help organise in-person events such as Meetups, Conferences etc. We wanted to share this guide with the community and let folks know that RITA is here to support you whether this is your 1st time organising an event or the 21st time.
What’s the point ?
What is the point or purpose of the event? This sounds obvious but it’s important to be able to summarise the purpose before reaching out to potential speakers, sponsors, venues and attendees. The purpose of the event will shape how you promote the event with some forms of promotion working better than others depending on the target demographic. For example a promotional email may not land with a younger audience while Instagram or TikTok will.
Location, Location, Location
Since this guide is for in-person events we’ll recommend a few strategies that you can use to find the perfect venue.
- Look for local companies who are currently hiring and who may let you use their office space for an event.
- Look for local co-working spaces or tech hubs.
- Look at local public amenities such as libraries who may have event rooms which can be booked
- Leverage social media to find a location. Tag local businesses, use hashtags wisely such as the name of the event, location etc and ask for RTs, reshares.
- If you have a budget to rent a venue then hotels, public houses, co-working spaces etc may be a good option
Accessibility and inclusion should be at the core of every event. Checking that venues have wheelchair access, cater for allergies and have sufficient space is incredibly important . This venue checklist curated by the National Disability Authority is really useful.
Content and Speakers
Depending on the type of event you may be looking for people to provide content (For example, a workshop) or to give a talk. We’ll cover some of the best places to find speakers online and offline.
- Social media is our number one recommendation due to it’s potential reach. A well worded tweet or post can generate dozens of leads. Following accounts which are related to the communities, organisations, content types and individuals can help target a more specific demographic.
- Leverage the principle of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. If there is a particular speaker that you would like to reach out to then there is a fairly good chance that one of your friends, colleagues, former bosses knows someone who knows someone else who can put you in touch. In short, leverage your personal network and LinkedIN.
- Look at existing content, workshops and folks who are actively involved in content generation and follow them on social media, join community Slack channels etc. Getting involved in communities and taking on some responsibilities such reviewing documentation, helping moderate communications or contributing code are great ways to expand your personal network and connect you with a pool of potential speakers.
In some cases you may not need a sponsor. There are many genuinely kind folks in the tech community who may be able to help secure a free venue, some refreshments and help with speakers. If you find someone like this, show your appreciation and be sure to call out their support in helping make your event possible.
In cases where you need some cash to pay for a venue, food etc then reaching out to local businesses who may benefit from your event and ask for a contribution in return for exposure or involvement in some way. For example; If you are planning to organise a Python Meetup then looking at local businesses who are actively hiring python developers may be a good first step.
Each sponsor typically wants a different return on their “investment”. They may want attendees details, their logo added to talk slides, a speaker slot etc. We highly recommend putting together a list of what can be offered and a price range associated with each. This allows you to set expectations early and will help avoid sponsors over stepping.
You have a venue, a list of amazing speakers, a sponsor who is offering to cover costs, what’s next? Now we need to tell everyone and their mother about the event. This is where our good old friend social media really excels. If the demographic of attendees is 18-30 years old then Instagram or TikTok may be a good medium to promote your event while Twitter or email newsletters may suit an older demographic. Promotion can be tricky and it does require experimentation. We recommend experimenting in short, low cost ways which can be measured for impact. For example; Promoting a tweet for 24 hours and setting a maximum spend to an affordable amount. When the promotion finishes take a look at the analytics and decide whether this will generate the interactions you want for your event.
For larger events we recommend adding your event to websites such as 10times or eventbrite in order to boost SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). There are some useful tips here on improving SEO for events.
This may sound a bit too “big brother” but it is really useful to have some data gathered before, during and after your event just in order to improve the next event. There is no need to go full NSA but there are a few simple pieces of information that when gathered can be useful.
- If the event requires online registration then asking a few general questions such as, “How did you hear about this event?”, “What is your current job role?” or “Do you have any allergies that we need to be aware of?” is fine. It’s always best to get a second opinion on questions before publishing them just to be sure they land right.
- Post event survey. Ideally sent out within a few hours or days in order to capture the feeling or sentiment that your event created with the attendee. Ask for feedback on the venue, speakers, food (if applicable), ways to make the next event more awesome and ratings of 1 -10 can help when deciding on what areas need the most improvement.
- Depending on the sponsorship benefits agreed upon, the sponsor may have some data gathering requirements of their own. For example; the sponsor may want to have someone attend the event and approach attendees for a short survey. This should be agreed upon in advance of the event.
We’ve used some of the following services, tools and resources in the past when setting up an event :