Sometimes it seems you can learn a lot more the second time you are involved in arranging a meeting or a conference than you did from the first time round.
I am not sure exactly why this is this case – maybe it’s putting into practice those lessons you learnt the first time and having the satisfaction of seeing you’ve improved that makes the key lessons jump out even more.
This is what we have come to realise after we held our second Blockchain for the Real World meetup, last Monday 11th December, about which we have received some very positive feedback from those who attended.
Despite being more satisfied the second time around, the takeaways were still many, and it is starting to feel that we are starting the development of a template (or boilerplate as some people call it) that works for us
So rather than listing them in any order of importance or priority, here are 7 key learnings that are currently working well for us.
By good venue, we mean somewhere that’s easy to find and get to, with a comfortable environment that lets attendees enjoy being there.
In our case, we held our event at the offices of Taylor Wessing LLP, conveniently situated near the central line tube.
Know your expected audience and select an overall theme that’s going to appeal to them. We decided to select the subject of regulation surrounding blockchain, as we recognise it is currently a hot topic.
People’s diaries get booked up very quickly.
Also keep an eye on the numbers, although you should expect a number of cancellations on the day, you’ll need a plan if your event gets well over-subscribed.
Try to find presenters, who while presenting on the same theme, have different approaches, so there is as limited of content overlap as much as possible.
We wouldn’t expect our audience to thank us if the presenters covered exactly the same thing!
But of course, it is something that we as organisers have to make sure that such a situation does not occur, which is why we asked for our presenters to send their presentations to us as soon as they were ready.
That way, if we find that there were two presenters who tackled the theme from the same angle, expressing, more or less, the same ideas, to inform them about this and see if there is a way how one of them can revise their presentation and perhaps, have a different take on it too.
In our experience, we find that the more we can involve our audience, the more people get from the meetup.
Whilst many find it hard to integrate or schedule time for audience discussion, we truly believe that it is the key to any successful meetup, and should be given a lot of importance.
The best thing about it, is that there are so many different ways how you can involve the audience.
This includes Q&A sessions for the speakers, panel events discussing set topics, or in our case this time, a Q&A session with someone well known in the industry.
For our latest meetup in fact, we were very fortunate to have Jez San answering questions from the attendees.
Think of it as hosting a party at home – you need a plan, and a good one too. It’s not just about inviting people over and just let them wonder around the house when they are over.
You are the host, so you need to decide what will happen and when, throughout the night.
Will you be offering your guests champagne as they arrive and walk through your front door, guiding them to the living room?
Will you then open a bottle of champagne as they gather together on the sofa?
Will you call them to the dining room, when dinner’s ready to be served?
… This kind of planning ahead and all the preparations that come with the planning, is all part and parcel of being a good host.
So, in this case, a good host needs to lead the event, from beginning to end – amongst many things, you would expect a good host to tell the audience about the agenda, introduce the speakers, moderate the Q&As etc…
This list goes on and on, hence showing the sometimes unrecognised importance of this role.
And Finally, have somewhere to relax when the main event has finished with a few drinks and nibbles.
Not only a good way to unwind after the formal presentations, but a chance for more relaxed conversation to take place.
Do avoid ending the event abruptly, without proper closure. Not only will you probably leave your audience feeling hungry and desperate for a drink, but it will also rob you, and your audience, of a chance to make social connections.
So there you have it, our 7 key takeaways
Although there are many other takeaways from running a successful meetup, we strongly believe that if you at least follow these 7 points listed above, you are setting yourself on the right track.