How BangPypers meetup is run
What is BangPypers?
BangPypers is a twelve year old group started by Anand B Pillai. For Half a decade meetup group is the anchor for organizing Python meetups in Bangalore. During the period, co-organizer has devised working for the team.
In last five years, the team organized Sixty-four meetups. Few early volunteers left the team. Moved to different city, nation, and continent. Kudos to everyone!
Talks are half a day event with minimum three speakers. Sometimes with six speakers. On an average, each session lasts for thirty to forty minutes. The team calls this as
full-length talks. Another version of the talks is
short talks or
Flash talks of duration ten minutes.
Next format is the workshop. Workshops are a complete hands-on event for a half day or full day. The one or two speakers come together and handle a session.
The last format is Dev Sprint. Dev Sprint is a half a day or full day event. The developers visit the premise and work on the FOSS projects. Sometimes maintainers of the projects attend the event and help participants contribute.
All three event formats take different effort to organize. For example, talks and dev sprint require a higher degree of co-ordination to find speakers and mentors.
What are the task involved?
Finding the place for the meetup was hard in the beginning. Running a meetup in the same location, again and again, projects a company runs the meetup. Initial days were hard to find the venue. Friends and group members helped a lot. Later, attendees and business outreach team got in touch with us. Ninety participants attended the last meetup. Now the challenge is to find a bigger venue. When a company contacts us in meetup page or email to host us, we ask a handful of questions. Following are few
- What is the capacity of the venue?
- Can you share photos of the place?
- Do you provide Wi-Fi to guests?
- Do you have proper table setup? The setup is mainly for workshops.
- Can you offer us Snacks and Lunch (optional)?
- Do you have two wheelers and four wheeler parking facility?
In the past, we have forgotten to ask these questions and had issues. Some companies require participants to carry a Government issued Identification Card. Other companies ask for participants names in advance. We don’t share members contact information. One day before the event, the host coordinator receive the attendees name list. In one or two days, after the event, a volunteer sends out venue specific feedback to the hosts with a ‘Thank you’ note.
The speakers and topic attract the audience for the meetup. The compelling content pulls the audience to step out of the house on the weekend. For a workshop, one speaker is sufficient and with few folks to help. Finding speakers for talks is the real challenge. Call for speakers happens three weeks before the event. A volunteer sends out an email to meetup group and mailing list. Then an announcement hits Twitter and FaceBook with Meetup link. The interested audience reply in email or comment on the meetup page. Sometimes talk slots are taken in a day, and sometimes there is one free slot. A follow-up is sent in next week when a talking slot is empty.
The team's biggest challenge is knowing how many will attend the meetup. Till date, all the events were free of cost. So interested participants RSVP. Not everyone who showed interest show up for the event. During initial days, only 20% of participants who showed interest attended the meetup. Now the ratio is above 50%. RSVP opens six days before the event with 2X venue capacity with the open waitlist. Three days before a volunteer sends out an email to all participants who showed interest to un-RSVP in the case of any change in plans.
Managing meetup page
The meetup page contains details of every meetup. RSVP is accepted only on the meetup page. The members can message organizer for queries about participation, hiring, a chance for a speaking slot, hosting the meetup. The Volunteers answer the questions in the event comment section. The comment section is used differently before and after the meetup.
On the day
A volunteer reaches the venue half an hour before the start time and oversees the setup. During the meetup, volunteers introduce speakers, keep track of talk timings, share feedback link and answer individual queries. The volunteer also takes few pictures.
From the beginning, BangPypers event reports are available on the blog. Every event has a separate blog post about attendees count, how was the event, photos, and other details. The blog post goes on to social networks, meetup group, and mailing list.
Feedback is the fruit of the event. Feedback gives us the sense of participants thoughts, a chance for speakers to improve, where did the organizing team slip and what do members expect from future meetups. Our feedback form is Google forms and shared at the end of the meetup. The feedback form has multiple choice questions and one optional text question.
The team uses Email and Whatsapp for internal communication to discuss labor sharing, whom to contact for the venue, what topics to discuss and who will be available during the meetup, how can we and post-mortem. During any month, the volunteers start planning for next two meetups. Whether the next meetups are workshop or talks, where to host etc. You can see the team members in the meetup group co-organization section.
In last three meetups, a volunteer record talks using an iPhone and uploads to YouTube channel. The video coverage is still at the experimental stage.
The organizing team spends a significant amount of time doing all the work. On an average, the team, not an individual spends somewhere between twelve to fifteen hours monthly to run the meetup.
It has taken years for us to reach this place. If you have read this far and manage a meetup group, take a couple of hours and write up how you organize the meetup. All of us can learn from each other.
Next blog post is about lessons from organizing the meetup. Stay tuned.