How to Discover Presentation Topics for Your Group

Posted: September 17, 2019
By: Mike Zornek

In my experience running meetup groups for over a decade, the social aspect or hallway conversations can sometimes be the most beneficial aspects of an event yet to hold an event without a speaker or topic can usually lead to an empty RSVP list.

Keeping on top of what your members are interested in hearing more about is an important group organizer task and in this post I’ll share some ways in which you can stay informed.

Keep Connected With Your Group Regulars

Every month send out a few personal emails to a few of your group regulars. Ask them how things are going, if they are enjoying the group, what they have worked on recently and what they are interested in learning. Record their comments in an ongoing notes file or spreadsheet.

Aside: While I recommend keeping a monthly checklist of things to do (including things like the above) I would also advise against automating these emails. Make each one personal and you’re far more likely to get a conversation going.

You can also send our a web survey every 6-9 months. This is a little more impersonal but can still generate some helpful information.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix In Beginner Topics

Many of the groups I’ve run in the past are almost 50% hobbyists or people just starting out. Don’t be afraid to revisit the basics from time to time to help these beginners out. I would also argue many of the experienced people can usually learn something new from these beginner presentations and discussions.

Spy on Other Groups

Spy is a little sharp of a term, but you get the idea. Stay in touch with your fellow organizers in other cities. Ask them what kind of presentations they’ve recently run and how they were received. If they are not too far you might even be able to woo a prospective speaker to visit your own town.

Track and Share Your Plans

Share your notes publicly with your group using a collaborative tool like Trello or even a simple Google Sheets. Letting them see what’s planned and what’s open can help spur involvement.

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Next time we’ll talk about finding speakers to match up to those topics.

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