Do you want to start a meetup group but you don't know exactly where to start or what to do?
This guide will help you get started and provide information on how to run successful meetups based on prior experience of the community.
List inspired by the awesome list thing.
Table of Contents
- Establish a Brand
- Build a roadmap
- Running a meetup
- Post meetup
- DO's and DONT's
Establish a brand
What is your meetup group about?
First you need to decide what is the scope of your meetup.
- What industry are you aiming at?
- What topics are you interested in covering?
For example, there are meetup groups that are very focused and dedicated to a specific technology, such as a React & React Native. While there are other meetup groups that are more generic like focusing on the Startup Scene.
Good to know:
- Meetup Group titles are important, but not as important as the meetup titles themselves.
- Short Meetup Group titles are encouraged
- Avoid using overly generic Meetup titles
Meetup dot com
Meetup.com is the defacto platform for managing & scheduling your meetups.
Meetup dot com is doing a great job with helping you attract members to your meetup group by sharing it on your behalf to members in your general location as newly suggested meetups. You might even be surprised in the amount of people that will join your meetup group very shortly after you establish a meetup group.
First step is to create a meetup and register as an organizer account which costs around $30/month (updated to September 2018).
What you'll need to register a good meetup group page:
- Meetup group title
- Meetup cover image
- Meetup topics as tags
- Location for where meetups will be usually held (city-level, not an accurate address)
Recording your meetups and making them available to watch afterwards is a privilege that will benefit you, the speakers and the audience:
- Audience those that aren't able to participate get to have a second chance to watch the talks in an offline manner.
- Speakers get to have their talks recorded which is good for their own personal branding and a reference for their talks if they wish to speak in other meetups or conferences. Furthermore, the recorded session is an asset for speakers to review their talks and learn from it how to improve, what to change, and so on.
- You get to spread awareness and branding for your meetup through a dedicated YouTube channel.
Once you have a meetup group established, title and all, go ahead and register your meetups YouTube channel where you will be uploading meetup recordings.
Leverage the social media channels that work best in your area. Some regions are known to have a strong community on Facebook, while in others the Twitter scene is strong.
It will probably be ideal to register accounts in both platforms and share announcements of meetup talks in both but focus efforts on the one with the highest ROI for your community attendance rate.
- Twitter - register a dedicated twitter account if this is your main platform. Otherwise it is enough to get by with just a twitter hashtag from another twitter account where you will be publishing the meetups.
- Facebook - having a dedicated meetup group is a two edged sword - from one perspective if there's a strong facebook community in your region chances are that many people will join it, but on the other side this will cause fragmentation between your meetup group page and the facebook page as they would be competing on similar resources such as sharing images, videos, discussions etc. A good social play on Facebook is to share news about your upcoming meetup talks and tagging key people, with intentions for them to share your post. If rules of engagement allow, it is ideal to share news of your meetups in existing facebook groups that already have an established community around them - this will result in a huge visibility gain for your meetups.
Build a Roadmap
Running meetups takes time, and effort and you'll find that in many occasions it's not always dependent on how well you are organized because things happen - speakers have last minute problems to attend their talks, events happen that may push your meetup date, etc.
Speakers is quite possibly the hardest part as they are hard to come up by and they are the heart and soul of your meetup. When you start out fresh with organizing a meetup scene it is crucial to build a roadmap with a schedule for the next 4-6 meetups and secure your speakers ahead of time.
Leverage the people in your organization to produce a speakers line-up, as well as empowering them with public speaking, networking and their developer brand. However, consider meetups that are not made up solely of your own internal speakers and instead strive for meetups that include an internal speaker from your organization with speakers from outside communities or other meetup groups.
It is key to keeping an up to date roadmap where you always have at least 3 meetups scheduled and organized up-front (with approved speakers, venue and date).
Running a meetup
The moderator (aka emcee) is essential to running the meetup. Successful meetup moderation:
- Ensure there is a dedicated meetup moderator that will be responsible for running the meetup: opening introductions, manage breaks, summarizing.
- It is preferred to have another person that helps organizing the meetup.
- Avoid situations where the moderator is also one of the speakers.
Choosing a date for the meetup isn't always a straight-forward decision. Things to consider:
- Usually it's good to avoid the first and last day of the week, and instead choose a day during one of the 3 mid-week days.
- If your area is very saturated with the meetups scene already, it is best to check that the date you want to choose doesn't have another competing meetup group scheduled for it already.
- Take into account holidays, events, or company activities to make sure none of those conflict with the meetup date.
Meetups in their classic formats feature a speaker (or more) who delivers a presentation. However, meetups are a great ground to also feature different formats of learning. We propose:
- presentation - Clasical presentations (one or more subjects)
- workshop - Writing code during a meetup helps attendees experience and learn through practical hands-on experience.
- open talks - A topic is selected for the meetup, and during the meetup event the attendees share a collection of subjects related to the topic proposed. A whiteboard helps facilitate this activity. Once enough subjects are gathered an open discussion with attendees can take place to share knowledge. An important aspect of this meetup is having a moderator for the conversation so it doesn't get side-tracked.
A good open space with a sitting area will work best for networking and free movement for attendees.
Tips to consider:
- Extra screens in the meetup space can be used to leverage brand awareness and identity
- Extra screens can also be utilized to share open positions
Meetup basic details
Details that go in every meetup you'll run
- Meetup cover image
- Meetup location
- Meetup schedule
The meetup description section is the heart of your meetup page - make sure it is organized well, and provides all the information for attendees as they contemplate whether to join.
General notes to include in the meetup page:
- Clear meetup schedule including the pre-meetup Pizza & Drinks networking session
- Clear talks schedules
- Talks titles include the speaker's name, title, company and short description
- If multi-language talks are relevant in your region, include the talk's language
- Clear parking information and instructions on how to get to the meetup space (building number, entry, floor, etc)
Example reference for a meetup description:
MEETUP SCHEDULE =================== 18:00 - 18:30 🍕🍺Pizza and Beer with cool peeps! 18:30 - 19:10 Idan Cohen | UVeye (Hebrew) - C'mon Baby Light my Firebase Google has bestowed upon us Firebase: The most robust backed solution, with database, authentication, storage and hosting. Put together, Angular & Firebase can unleash great powers for those who learn their (well documented) secrets. In this talk I intend to share real life use cases, code samples, pro tips and point out the pitfalls. 19:10 - 19:15 BREAK 🍕 Mingle, network, and eat more pizza! ❓🎁 Quiz and prizes! 19:15 - 20:00 Nik Savchenko | Nielsen (Hebrew) - React-Redux-Island - what about reusing Smart Components? How to add two different Redux Counters (or more complicated components with business logic and/or domain) to the same screen of React Redux application? * Lectures will be recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel PARKING ========= There is a free 3 hours parking in TLV Fashion mall (5 minutes walk from the office) and free parking at Givon parking for Discount bank card holders. ---- P.S. We're looking for speakers and this is your chance! Don't hesitate, and reach out to me at with any topics you might be interested to cover.
Measuring your areas of success and shortcomings is key to know how to make future meetups better.
Furthermore, your speakers are also hungry for this feedback and how they performed, what they need to improve and so on.
Create a short meetup survey with questions covering your speakers, the venue and the hosting.
Consider the following options to execute the survey:
- Create a google webform for the survey so audience can just quickly type-in their feedback in their mobile and easier for you to collect the feedback later.
- If you encounter a low survey participation rate consider:
- a hard-copy one-page paper survey that you hand out to attendees.
- coupling a prize or give-away at the end of the meetup with submitting a survey.
- Reserve a date
- Confirm with office manager or the relevant person the required space or room is available and book it for the meetup.
- Office buildings usually require guests to leave their personal IDs at the reception - add to the Meetup page a reminder for attendees to come with IDs for the reception guest entry.
- Notify the office manager two days ahead to order Snacks, Pizza, or anything else that works for you. Note: It's better if the pizza arrives earlier than if it comes late.
- Organize the space sitting area
- Pre-test the media equipment: connect laptop screens, projector works as expected, ensure proper cables exist (HDMI, VGA, etc), mics if available etc.
- Prepare video camera to record the talks. Preferably assign a second organizer to be responsible for recording the talks so you don't miss out on it.
- Prepare a Camera-man for quality still photos - these make a good asset to later use them in social media and uploading to the meetup group. If no dedicated camera, utilize a good phone-camera.
- Prints - attendees don't know the rules in your meetup space: are they allowed to take drinks from the fridge? is there a Wi-Fi access available for them? To make the space and hosting more accessible and friendly for them consider:
- Printing instructions for Guest Wi-Fi access
- Printing“Free Drinks” paper to put on the beer fridge
- If your speakers need parking spaces make sure to reserve the parking space in advance or request the proper parking vouchers.
- If Meetup roll-ups are available, place them in the building lobby for increased awareness and attendees orientation as they enter the building.
- Confirm the building's lobby reception is expecting a large group of guests on the day of the meetup.
- Thank your speakers!
- Thank your attendees!
- Upload photos to the meetup group. Even if you have a dedicated Facebook group make sure you upload the photos to the meetup page too because future attendees who will sign-up to your meetup group will see them as they survey several meetups and choose which to join.
- Upload meetup recorded videos to YouTube
Just like running a development sprint, it is important to perform a short retrospective right after the meetup while the atmosphere is still fresh and discuss together with your co-organizer or general meetup staff what went well and what can be improved.
Items to consider:
- How was the organization? Was anything missing? Did we start on time? Were there too many breaks? Were people engaged? How many people actually attended the meetup?
- Was there a good networking between speakers and attendees? Were speakers approached after their talks with questions from the audience?
- Were attendees easily finding the venue? Did they raise any questions or issues? Was there enough pizza for everyone? They did comment on the talks quality? was it too advanced or too beginner level?
DO's and DONT's
- Do your best to be consistent and follow your scheduling agenda. If you are committed to doing a meetup once a month - stick to it and do your best to avoid canceling or breaking this routine. Momentum is important!
- Avoid re-scheduling a meetup. There will always be excuses to re-schedule an already set meetup: it is close to a holiday; the speakers are not well known; the topics are too beginner level; maybe not a lot of people to attend; Some points may be valid and you should've considered them in advance before scheduling the meetup. Once scheduled, keep to it and don't be tempted to move the date unless a really critical issue prevents it from happening.