Roundtable Workshop

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how to organize an event in X easy steps.[edit]

Step 1: Find something you're interested in.[edit]

The biggest misconception is that events get organised by experts in the topic. It doesn't work that way. Someone who is an expert has no interest in setting up a workshop because he/she, well, already knows everything there is about it.

Organizing a workshop while you are the expert is also a bit frightening, basically you invite a bunch of people to listen to your wise words of wisdom about a specific topic. It's easy to loose face, it's a lot of hassle so people don't tend to do that. (Of course if you want to plan a workshop in your line of expertise, and organize it, more kudos and respect to you).

So having Alice (a Foo-expert) in our space doesn't lead to workshops about Foo. The foo-master basically is interested in doing other things than Foo, and is in the space to play with Bar. Furthermore our Alice is already full-time paid to work with Foo and maybe has even lost some of the enthusiasm to evangelize it. Meanwhile, other people in the space are interested in Foo, they ask the Foo-expert for help and information, which Alice happily provides. She thinks: "why bother setting up a workshop, they know where I am and can come and ask me".

Now, Bob is also a member and he knows nothing about Foo but wants to learn. Bob has red some intros, wikipages and blogs and thinks: "It would be nice to have a meeting about this topic, so we can all put our heads together and become smarter in the process".

so the incentive of organizing a workshop should come from the interested 'public'.

The burden of actually organizing is split in two:

  • the expert preparing his topic/doing intro
  • the host, taking care of doing PR, preparing the space

Step 2: setup a wiki page[edit]

Ideas are good but only go so far. They evaporate easily and just get 'forgotten'. So we need to make this more concrete.

Put it on the wiki, this way your idea is saved to a database that has nightly backups and it won't get lost or evaporated.

  • Hit the "add an event" button on the wiki
  • (optional) find a clever name for the thing.
  • Don't add a date just yet.
  • Create content: just google a bit and paste some links

Step 3: ask around , get some wetware involved[edit]

So now you have a wikipage, great. A part from some freaks who keep F5'ing the recentchanges page no-one will read it.

No worries, it's just the beginning. Time to get your social groove on.

  • come over to the whitespace have a drink and mention you're setting up a workshop about Foo.
  • Mention it on the thursday meeting (in the end there's allways room for 'various')
  • talk to the interested participants you know, ask them what they expect. Tell then to get involved by adding that to the wiki.
  • Don't worry if no-one edits the wiki. :-)

You will have no problem finding people who want to attend the session, most of the members are information junkies and will listen to anything it-related.

Step 4: find expert(s)[edit]

In the previous step you must have found someone who knows more about Foo than the rest of the space. This makes him an expert (notice the loose definition of the term). This is the person you need. If there are two or more of them: even better.

Try not to freak them out with work they didn't ask for. Tell them everything is set up and the only thing they have to do is show up and share their knowledge.

If they agree, ask for dates they are available and add their name to the wikipage. Also at this point: set up a doodle with the dates the expert is a available as options.

Say it would be nice of them to do a presentation but this is not an obligation.

Step 5: create an announcement[edit]

An announcement is easy: you write what you want to do in an email and send that over to the whitespace mailing list.

Check formally for interest, doodle works good for this:

  • you see who is interested
  • You see when they'll be able to attend
  • For people it's easier to register on the doodle

If you set a time, choose wisely, if it's going to take >3.5 hours, go for the afternoon, if it's a short session, an evening is maybe better suited.

Step 6: fix a date[edit]

After a while (max one week), the doodle will have some participants. Choose the date witch the most people.

If there are two dates equally preferred, ask the experts which one they prefer.

Step 7: spam around[edit]

Now you can send a mail to local and external mailing-lists and add the date to the eventpage on the wiki. Maybe you can do a blogpost or ask someone to do a blogpost.

  • keep an eye on the agenda (if you can't find a date to have the space for yourself, try to be creative and combine activities?)
  • preferably not on Thursday (unless it's a short session of half n hour/one hour)

Step 8: in the space, before the event[edit]

  • open the door
  • be there an hour in advance, find a good spot, setup the projector, check the network(power & internet-connectivity), put the heating on. If needed: arrange some tables/chairs and clean a bit.

Step 9: the event[edit]

  • Don't panic
  • Welcome participants,
  • Enjoy!

Step 10: After the event[edit]

  • collect some donations for whitespace
  • Engage people to clean the space a bit
  • Give a big thanks to the experts
  • Update the wikipage or make a new blog post telling everyone what they missed