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This is a very long text, but bear with us, because we really want to hear from you how you handle planning and recording of your events. Thank you.
We had more or less regular events since 2014 and relied mostly on the ad hoc announcements on Bevy and communicating through our channels once we had a date. We had a few failures with more complex events like an all-day hackathon and an event for students with a computer science department of a local university. We still want to do these at some point in the future, but the lesson learned is that this is not something that we as leads can organize without a broad level of active (not just moral) support from our community, so we decided to introduce some changes into our planning process in 2020.
We see predictability and continuous communication as the most important factors for the growth of our community overall (currently approaching 900 members) and to achieve a higher level of engagement in a local market where we are - on any given day - just one choice among dozens of events. We know from friends in other regions and from other local meetups that ad-hoc - say two weeks before an event - announcements work just fine and draw a crowd, but that has not been our experience so far.
We hope that this will also make it easier for presenters (and sponsors) from out of town to include a visit to one of our meetings into their itineraries and help local presenters to plan and prepare their presentations with a little bit more lead time. We had remote presentations in the past, but networking is the important function of our events and it is kind of difficult to have a beer (water, soda) with a remote speaker. So more lead time to be on site.
Last but not least: we want to offer other Atlassian Communities in our “neighborhood” (DACH and neighboring countries) to use our events to advertize their own activities and maybe establish a tighter network to allow for an exchange about topics and to make it easier for interested speakers to take their show on the road in our neck of the woods.
Our first step was to integrate local partners closer into our planning process and we are fortunate that - so far - four of our local platinum partners have chosen to support us on a regular basis and we are looking forward to working together with them to make this happen.
We see continuous communication as key to grow our community in scale and scope and so we decided to ambitiously go for platinum and announce twelve events for 2020, which creates a space for face to face dialogue every month. Two make this manageable we will - for starters - have two types of events:
Formal: The classic meeting, with presentations, catering, hosted by a company in our network.
Informal: In the great German tradition of the “Stammtisch” in a restaurant, breakfast in the cold season, after work drinks in a beergarden in the the warm months for open, "unstructured" exchanges.
Two specials: In April we will have our very own Mini-Summit - i.e. a panel discussion with local attendees of the Atlassian Summit in Las Vegas and our informal meeting during the summer holidays will be our “5th Event” and hopefully we manage to organize a BBQ.
To be clear: This is the minimum, we expect and are open to have unplanned events like: participating in an Atlassian Team Tour event in Berlin or if a group of our members wants to have a hackathon/unconference/whatever, we would be happy to do that too.
So these are the dates for 2020
February 27th, 18:00
AC Meeting (Mini-Summit)
April 23rd, 18:00
June 25th, 18:00
August, 27th, 18:00
October, 29th, 18:00
December 10th, 18:00
January 30th, 09:00
March 26th, 09:00
May 28th, 18:00
AC Feierabenbier (5th Event)
July, 23rd, 18:00
September, 24th, 18:00
November 26th, 09:00
Traditions not only add additional structure and highlights to our schedule but add to the sense of stability and predictability that we want to convey.
That sounds very grand, but our two special events (5th Event and Mini-Summit) are already traditions which we had for the last four years running and we just introduced a “Raffle Champion” that we want to use for a pre-Christmas raffle with choice swag items collected throughout the year.
Another “tradition” in this sense is a fixed format where we start off with a community update - and we would happily host other community leads to introduce themselves - followed by two presentations 30 minutes each. We add at least an hour of networking around food and drinks to give ample opportunity for Q&A with the presenters and getting to know each other. We had a round of lightning talks in the past and if we see an interest, we will integrate them again. Also not rocket science.
A long term goal (dream?) would be to have one all-day event per year either as a hackathon or as kind of an (un-) conference that would give us an opportunity for a deep dive in some topics and to showcase our community.
We live in a digital world but we feel that it makes sense to have some physical objects that make our schedule tangible beyond the electronic communication channels, especially during our events.
So for 2020 we produced a postcard which becomes part of our swag table for our own events, which we can use like a business card when talking to people outside of our events and which is actually useful, because it is a calendar with public holidays, including the Atlassian Summit (THAT should be a public holiday 🙂 )
The second object is a rollup that is intended to make our schedule visible in a larger venue and serve as the elephant in the room that everybody wants to discuss.
The goal in both cases is higher engagement, getting people to discuss our schedule and thinking about if they or somebody they know could or should be part of it.
It is less expensive than it (hopefully) looks. We used Flyeralarm (https://www.flyeralarm.com, there are many suppliers like this) and printing both a pack of 100 cards and the rollup was about 130 Euros. The layout is based on stock graphics that we modified to adapt to Atlassian colors and font. Neither one of us is a graphic design wizard, this is all very pedestrian stuff. Our supplier allows us to test print data online and even get proof when in doubt, which made this all very simple and straightforward.
References are important to create interest with people who meet you for the first time. So having an accessible record of our events that we manage is very important for us.
We are currently using a Confluence cloud instance which you can find at https://aug-bb.atlassian.net for that and use Twitter (@ACBEBB) and a Linkedin group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8290881/) in addition to our “official” Bevy account (https://ace.atlassian.com/berlin/). Our very own Atlassian Community Event Group here is work in progress: Requests have been sent and we are waiting for a reply.
The new kid on the block and finally here is our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2u9OXs76GE9HvN6JZIGuOw) which will create a visual record of our events extending our reach and - hopefully - make us more attractive to potential speakers (once our cinematography improves 🙂 )
This is some high-level nagging as Atlassian is already doing plenty and we are grateful for it, but three things come to mind:
We would like to have at least one presenter from Atlassian per year and maybe this advance schedule will help to plan this. We had a great experience last year with our Mini-Summit where we had Pieter van de Voorde who organized the developer event for the summit.
Knowing in December which events Atlassian plans for the next year - outside of the summit - would be great to integrate them in our calendar, especially if there is an event in Berlin like the Team Tour.
And last - but not least - have a heart and give us an unlimited account for our Confluence to open our record(ing) to our community. At the end of the day we are part of your marketing and sales infrastructure and such an account would be a very cheap way to make us even better at what we do.
Thank you for your patience. We hope this insight in our planning process is helpful and we would love to hear from you how you handle your planning process, what channels you use, if you want to take part in one of our events or would like to know more. , With that: Happy holidays and a great 2020 for all of us. Looking forward to meeting you in Las Vegas.