I had a couple of people ask me recently what I thought made for a good tech event. Having hosted and attended a few hundred events in the past couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of great events (I’ve also see a number of not so great events). I really think that it boils down to 2 big things — Are you solving a problem that someone is facing & Are the right people coming? If you can nail these, you’re well on the right track.
Are you solving a problem? Most people venture out into the community for two reasons — to learn and to network. A great event does one OR the other really well. To often I find myself at an event doing its best Ronco Infomercial and trying to make the event do too much. My advice, think hard about what someone walking in the door is going to get out of the hour they’ll spend at your event, and make that hour the best of their day. I’ll also point out, that a great event does not create other problems — particularly around scheduling or duplication of an existing event. While I love feeling like Brody Jenner and hitting up 3 or 4 events in a night, I get concerned when there is so much overlap happening on a given day/week/month. Before deciding to fire up a new event check out www.greenhornboston.com to see what’s already been scheduled, and ask some folks if your event is contributing to solving a problem (if not, there’s LOTS of room to innovate!!).
Are the right people there? It’s hard to have a great event without the right people in the room. Solving a problem for someone is 90% of the way to get a great group of people in the room, but there are a few others that I’d like to call out. Location matters! If you event is a pain to get to or if you’re out of the hustle and bustle of where people generally are — you’ll struggle. Do events where there is good parking, reasonable public transport and some place that is in the general ebb and flow of the community (MOST important for students — remember, they can’t get to Burlington easily!) Timing is also really important. Depending on who you want to attend, timing should vary. Students won’t attend anything early in the AM and commuters won’t hit stuff that starts too late in the evening (which I think is after 6pm). Figure out who the main audience is, and optimize a time for them.
Here’s to some GREAT events in 2011!