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Community Event Planning Checklist

eZ Community User Group: Organizer's Toolkit 

Who Can Organize a User Group Meeting ?
How Do I Plan a User Group Meeting ?
      Facilities
      Promoting the Event
      At the Event - Preparation Before Arrival
      At the Event - During Event
      After the Event
Sponsorship Ideas
Why Seek Sponsor Money
What Sponsors May Expect

 

Online community is essential to the success of the eZ Community, but it is not the only way to share ideas, innovation and interesting lessons learned. User groups are a powerful way to share experiences with peers and learn more about delivering leading edge web and mobile content applications.

 

Who Can Organize a User Group Meeting?

  • Any member of the eZ Community – partner or individual contributor – is welcome to start a group in a region or city where none exists.
  • To find out if there is an existing eZ Community User Group, check share.ez.no/events
 

How Do I Plan a User Group Meeting?

Facilities

  • Book a facility that is easy for people to find – public transit nearby, good parking, wheelchair accessible.
  • Reach out to partners, customers with a boardroom or classrooms
  • Investigate low cost library or other public meeting spaces. Tech start-up hubs and co-working centers may also offer inexpensive room rentals.
  • Ensure it can comfortably fit the expected turn-out with sufficient seating, a projector and screen, microphone, whiteboard as needed. Wifi is always a bonus.
     
    • Video/live-streaming equipment
    • Easel/whiteboard and markers
  • Ensure the facility matches the user group meeting style that is planned
     
    • Barcamp
    • Lecture style / panel discussion
    • Trade fair, booths
 

Promoting the Event

Some simple online communication and marketing can help promote your event at low or no cost:

  • Write an online invitation that describes:
     
    • Location
    • Date
    • Time (beginning and end)
    • Topics and speakers (including languages spoken at the event)
    • Cost (if any)
    • Style of event - Bar camp, panel discussion, lecture. Include with speaker bios or topics if known
    • Indicate if refreshments are provided or not
    • Organizer contact email for more information
    • Clear link to the procedure for RSVP or registration site:
       
      • Meetup.com, EventBrite, Amiando are good to track registration and can collect payments if needed
      • Create a link on Lanyard.com to spread interest
  • Notify the Community team at eZ for cross-promotion through range of community channels
     
    • Use logos from the eZ Community site for a more attractive invitation.
    • eZ Community can promote through its blog, twitter, LinkedIn, other online channels
    • Leverage eZ Community UStream channel for live online access for remote participants
    • Order gifts or promotional materials as giveaways - stickers, T-shirts, etc.
  • If recording the talks for later posting to blogs or eZ Community site, designate someone responsible for video capture
     
  • Encourage organizers and attendees to blog about the event, tweet, promote through social media, email lists, relevant discussion groups/forums
  • Ensure any organizations who provide facilities, money or refreshments are highlighted in communication as thank you for their support.
  • Cross-promote to other technical user groups – Developers, php, web designers, etc.
     
    • Use word-of-mouth – invite colleagues, prospects, other interested web professionals, developers, students, digital marketers. Local and personal network communication is very effective.
    • Encourage everyone to bring a friend or colleague.
 

At the Event - Preparation Before Arrival

  • Have simple name badges for registered guests. Have attendee sign-in sheets to confirm attendance, and track walk-in attendees for future contact lists.
  • Be able to take payment (if requested) at the door for last minute attendees. Have a receipt book for cash payment, laptop for electronic registration.
  • Provide simple refreshments such as coffee, tea, cold drinks. Make a sign thanking sponsors who provide food/drinks.
  • Test the projectors, microphones, wifi, Ustream, video, laptops in advance to ensure prompt start time.
  • Designate a host to introduce speakers, keep to schedule, announce next meeting
 

At the Event - During Event

  • Encourage attendees to tweet interesting thoughts and use a consistent hashtag such as #eZCommunity or specific to your user group name
  • Encourage attendees to take notes and blog about event highlights, sharing ideas, photos, etc.
  • Ensure everyone knows where to sign up for barcamp topics, find refreshments, find presentation rooms, wifi ID/password, when to ask questions - typical housekeeping items as part of welcome by the host
  • Tell attendees where slides or videos will be posted later (eZ Community site, Slideshare, Youtube, blogs, etc)
  • Announce next event dates, location, topics if known
  • For new groups, it is helpful to survey the group to know preferred locations, time of day, topics of interest for future events.
     
     
    • Simple paper evaluation form/survey in person
    • or, online survey as followup. Example: Surveymonkey.com or a Google Doc Survey template
 

After the Event

  • Send thank you emails to all registrants and remind them of next event location/date.
     
     
    • Include interested parties who were not able to attend in order to promote next event.
    • Include links to any interesting blog posts, slides, Youtube videos about the event.
    • Ask for volunteers to help plan future events, present a talk or suggest an idea
 

Sponsorship Ideas

A user group that has had a couple of successful meetings may choose to seek sponsors from vendors, integrators, consulting companies in order to increase their planning budget and help companies supportive of the eZ local Community.

 

Why Seek Sponsor Money

  • Better quality facilities (premium rooms, larger spaces, better food/drinks, wifi, AV equipment, professional on-site IT help)
  • Out of town Experts as Guest Speakers
     
     
    • Able to pay part or all of travel expense to get top notch speakers
  • Lower costs for user group attendees
     
     
    • Offer lower registration costs, or remove entirely
  • Be able to sponsor charitable programs - donations to tech education, fund-raise for good causes, send a student to a conference
 

What Sponsors May Expect

  • Logos on slides, email blasts, other collateral related to the user group
  • Mention or thank you at the event
  • Ability to pass out business cards, collateral, gifts
  • Speak or do a demo at event
  • Access to mailing lists or names - make it clear if your group is willing to allow this or not, often for marketing purposes.
  • Create a clear and simple sponsorship program so the expectations are easy to understand and acceptable to all parties.
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