Meetup Formats

By Eric Lathrop on

Whether you're going to build a real life social network by organizing a new meetup, or begin attending one, this is a list of common technology meetup formats.

Lecture

A lecture is when a knowledgable person stands in front of a room and speaks at length about a topic. Lectures are one of the most common formats for tech meetups. A lecture usually lasts from 20 minutes to an hour, and may involve slides or demos. Lectures work well for larger groups.

Requirements

Pros

Lectures ask little of attendees other than being interested in the topic. Lectures give attendees a common experience that can make conversation easier afterwards. Lectures can be a good way to raise the skill level of a group of people at the same time.

Cons

Lectures can be difficult to organize because organizers must seek out and encourage presenters willing to spend time preparing a lecture, and possibly travel from another city. Taken alone, lectures may not create much discussion, having attendees leaving immediately after without talking to anyone.

Meetups using this format:

Open Hack

An open hack is when a group of people gather in one location and work on their own individual projects. These usually last for several hours with people coming and going throughout. Open hacks provide attendees a dedicated time at a regular schedule to work on their projects where they can seek help and overhear interesting chatter. Open hacks work for groups of any size.

Requirements

Pros

Open hacks are fairly easy to organize. Open hacks encourage some discussion, and get attendees familiar with each others passion projects.

Cons

Open hacks may exclude people who don't have a project to work on, or do not have a laptop.

Meetups using this format:

Meetups using this format:

Happy Hour

The happy hour is a more social format where a group of people gather at a bar or restaurant with no set agenda. A happy hour often lasts for a few hours.

Requirements

Pros

The happy hour lets people get to know each other on a more personal level. It provides a place for nontechnical discussion and can create cross-disciplinary friendships that may not have formed with other meetup formats.

Cons

The happy hour can exclude people under 21 if held in a bar, and may repel more socially awkward people.

Meetups using this format:

Workshop

A workshop is when one or more teachers lead a group of people through a series of steps to use a technology.

Requirements

Pros

Workshops get all attendees to the same level of experience with a technology, so they can be very valuable in raising the bar for a community. Workshops might require less planning than a lecture because while you plan out each step, the talking can be mostly ad-lib.

Cons

Workshops can exclude people without a laptop. Workshops can require a little more planning than a lecture because you should find a few extra volunteers with experience in the technology to help people who are stuck or have questions.

Meetups using this format:

Group Learning

Group learning is a variant of a workshop where there is only one computer that everyone can see. The group discusses how to complete the next objective and tells the person driving the computer what to type. The group learning format works better for smaller groups.

Requirements

Pros

Because the group learning format is very interactive, people seem to learn more and be able to retain the knowledge better. This format can work well for topics where no one is an expert, but many people know different little pieces. Planning a group learning event can be pretty easy because you only need to have a general idea of what you want to learn, and how much you can accomplish in the time.

Cons

A group learning event would be difficult in a larger group because it's hard to hold a conversation.

Meetups using this format: