Tips for Event Hosting: Content, Feedback and Socials

This is the final post in a short series about hosting events, based purely on my own experience and no specific expertise, in the hope that they will be useful to others doing similar things. If you are interested, you can read the first two posts, about preparing for the event and what to do on the day. This post is about some of the additional things about an event; sharing the content afterwards, getting feedback from attendees, and the most important bit - the social event.

Slides and Recordings

Decide at an early stage whether you will want to record the sessions, either in video or audio, and make sure you get the speakers' permission to do so and to distribute the material. Then you should actually record the sessions and distribute the material! This sounds simple but clearly it isn't - I've lost track of the number of events which have recorded sessions but never managed to release them! Bear in mind that there is a lot of work in processing the media and also that the files will need hosting, promoting ... the list goes on.

Another common way for people who weren't able to make the event to follow the content is to look at the slides. Make clear to your speakers that they should make their slides available somewhere and let you have the URL, then do a round up post for people - I did this on techPortal for DPC10 and it is a great central resource for people to find slides (it is actually just a page I made pulling info from the Joind.in API; the speakers add the slides link to their talk page)

Attendee Feedback

Whether I'm speaking or organising, I really like to get a feel for how the talks are going over, either my own or the whole schedule. It isn't unusual for speakers to give a talk multiple times and it only gets better if they get input from people seeing it and sharing their reactions. In the PHP world, most events use Joind.in for this, but really it doesn't matter what the mechanism is. Make sure there are ways for people to feed back on the sessions and on the event as a whole, and promote them - this makes talks AND events better and better each time they repeat. If you do an offline feedback gathering, please do share that with the speakers, it is helpful to them.

Socials

I would never publicly admit that I only attend conferences for the social events, but they're an important ingredient of a successful conference. You would think that getting geeks to a pub would be easy but there are some definite pitfalls to avoid even in this. My main tips are:

  • Publicise the date/time of the social at the same time as the main event - this stops people booking return travel too soon and missing out
  • Pick a venue as nearby as possible - this loses the smallest number of people, because there is no barrier to attending
  • Have the social follow on immediately from the main event - this is really the same as the previous point about the geography, it makes less hurdle for people to tag along

The ideal situation is to stand on stage and say "right, see you in the Kings Arms in five minutes, turn left as you go out of the venue and you will see it three doors down on the other side of the road" or something like that. This way you include everyone, including people you don't know, who don't know the area, and/or who don't follow you on twitter. Make it idiot-proof and make sure everyone feels welcome - and you'll get a better crowd as a result :)

Leave a Reply

Please use [code] and [/code] around any source code you wish to share.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>