We recently completed a 2010 long-range planning meeting for our Atlanta Drupal User Group (ADUG) meetup. Our pseudo-committee consists of five to seven key organizers, and we have intentionally kept the structure fairly informal. We conduct presentations on the third Tuesday of every month in a training center that is provided by Matrix Resources (large staffing agency). In addition, we have more hands-on workshops that meet on the second Tuesdays of each month that will be moving to a co-working space (Ignition Alley) conference room next year.
Most importantly, we have found a direct correlation around attendance and advanced planning – for example, the longer window we had to promote the event the better the turnout. We consistently tried to solicit presentation ideas before every meetup, started a wiki (we use Wetpaint), and are beginning to leverage a helpful new recommendation feature on meetup.com. Essentially, members can suggest ideas and then vote their favorites up or down (like Drupalcon sessions). Incidentally, if you are not using Meetup, I would strongly endorse their service, especially if you are just starting a Drupal group. Anyway, compiling this list of ideas really helped us flush out what subject matter we wanted to cover this year. Here is a snapshot of our 2010 schedule:
2010 ADUG Schedule
|Integrating Flash w/Drupal||January|
|Open Publish Overview||February|
|Best Practices for Setting up a Drupal Development Environment||March|
|Drupalcon debriefing w/panel and moderator||April|
|Drupal 7 Preview - Whats New?||May|
|Theming - How to Make Your Drupal Site Look Amazing||June|
|Drupal SEO Tips and Best Practices||July|
|Content Administration w/Drupal||August|
|Drupalcamp Atlanta (no meetup)||September|
|Module Development 101||October|
|Running a Drupal Based Consultancy||November|
|Case Study Showcase and/or Holiday Party||December|
We will be working in conjunction with the workshop organizers, so when attendees listen to a session they can then practice and apply what they learned. Noteworthy as well is that we have been videoing each session and will upload on the ADUG website. We will also utilize a service like Slideshare.net to mass distribute the presentation. Our experience has been that it is important to block off time for introductions/networking (especially for first-time attending members) and a Q&A period at the end.
Finally, some of our other goals included more cross-pollination with other meetups that complement Drupal (i.e. PHP, MySQL, Linux, Content Strategy, SEO, etc.), making Drupalcamp Atlanta an annual event, applying for non-profit status, outreaching to new sponsors (who traditionally provide pizza/beverages), and launching a newly redesigned ADUG website. I am particularly excited about more joint sessions and combining forces with other user groups that have an overlapping interest in Drupal.
In the end, any association must provide value to its members. While the time commitment can be strenuous to any volunteer leader, the intangible benefits can be awesome – personally, I have learned a lot, networked with a variety of organizations, and met some great folks along the way.
What are you waiting for – get that long-range Drupal User Group planning meeting scheduled, and you will be well on your way to a successful 2010!
Are there any topics or best practices around planning a Drupal meetup you can share?