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Going global: when & how to take your local event to the next level (notes)


Hi everyone, here are the notes from the Friday 2pm session on local/global events (i.e. events with a local core that made global via online participation). Thanks everyone who contributed notes to the pad:


Text copied below (minus links, see pad for links):


what this session is about:

  • events, as opposed to ambient community (an event is something that happens at a particular time and place, whether that place is local or virtual)
  • if you already have a local event, should you take it global? if so, how?

about me:

  • community manager at Meteor, which has over 60 monthly meetups around the world
  • Jade (plenary speaker) runs our meetup machine. My specialty: content and global online events
    • e.g. Devshop Live - quadruples the live audience. Instead of 50 people watching (all we can fit in the room), we have 200 watching live, and thousands of view after the event
    • Discover Meteor Day - originally this was going to be a 50 person in-person class. Instead it became a worldwide online event with over 12,000 unique participants. Pivoted only 1 week before the event

question for the group: why would you want to go global?

  • recognition
  • expand your thinking
  • collaboration
  • inclusiveness

question for the group: why would you not take it global?

  • a lot of work
  • expensive
  • hard to manage across cultures

Devshop Live example

  • Very first Devshop just me and my flipcam. Very minimal, but enough to show that people were interested in the content and that it stands up to a wider audience
  • first livestream was just an elgato box --> live screencasting on YouTube. An “aha” moment because the audience size instantly doubled or tripled, and we could see engagement on YouTube, twitter, etc. Pushed us to want to improve our livestreaming setup
  • Now it’s full-blown professional AV, livestreaming the event. $2000+ a month, hundreds of live viewers, thousands of post-event viewers


  • strong local event first
  • Start small & iterate (like Randall said, crawl, walk, run). If I had just come out at the start and said “I want us to spend $2000/month on a professional AV setup to livestream our event,” might have balked. But while iterating, we were able to validate the value we were getting from Devshop content
  • the decision to go global should be driven by:
  1. demand
  2. quality of the event

Discover Meteor Day example

  • originally just asking Sacha (Discover Meteor book author) if he would take a volunteer shift answering questions at Devshop
  • he asked if he could teach a class too, w/ free book access for participants
  • we were pretty sure demand would be more than could fit upstairs at Devshop, so gave him his own space and time
  • filled up instantly, before I had even promoted it. people immediately started asking for remote participation
  • Sacha set up an Eventbrite. Remote people can access the book for free too and Sacha will support them over chat.
  • 1st day: 200 signups. 2nd day: 1,000 signups after dug by russian equivalent of HN
  • “oh shit” moment --> cue to reframe. Instead of emphasizing workshop, emphasized free book aspect and rebranded the event as “Discover Meteor Day”
  • over 12,000 unique visitors to the free book in 48 hours, spike in book sales that continued for a while


  • like Jade said, create opportunity-rich environments. If you think the event has the potential to get big, give it the room to grow from the beginning. Example: Discover Meteor workshop was given its own space and time, not just part of Devshop
  • “oh shit” moments can be good – cue to reframe your event
  • move fast. don’t be afraid to go off plan and seize the opportunity when you see one (only had 2 weeks to promote the Discover Meteor workshop, only 1 week once we decided to refame it as Discover Meteor Day)

General takeaways

  • there needs to be a way for people to register their interest in the event
  • if you expect demand for an event to exceed available space, have capped RSVPs with a waitlist
  • if you’ve decided to offer a remote participation, have a way to measure interest in that too
  • because the global event takes place on the internet, there needs to be a virtual destination where people can talk to each other, to make it feel real.
    • at Devshop Live, it’s the #MeteorDevshop hashtag and youtube comments
    • at Discover Meteor Day, it was the dedicated chatroom set up specifically for this event


OpenStack’s “official” user group process (under discussion - feedback very welcome)

groups portal (under development), uses drupal commons

details of user groups we capture:

Blog post w/ stats about Discover Meteor Day

Other posts about the event

Implement a meetup organizers buddy system: don’t even let it go forward until there are two people who commit to running it in the long term. When one can’t organizer anymore, the group won’t fall apart.

Start with a recurring local event successfully(“opportunity rich environment”). Learn about how to do that part well – then can take it (online) local

be driven by demand.

Meteor SF Bay Area holds monthly “DevShop” in the company’s HQ. A professional takes the stage and tells audience what they’re working on.
live screencast of presentations
a lot more people were able to participate
comments poured in around the world
it’s both a global & local event
local: co-working during the day, lighting talks that night <-- needs clarification. notes may not be correct

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