Suggested MeetupsSuggest edits
Looking for some inspiration? Here are the most common meetups among Hacks/Hackers groups all over the world:
Talk or Demo
The most common meetup is one of the simplest: a single speaker walks the audience through a project, a concept or trend. It usually includes a Q&A and a demo or presentation. You’re going to want to find a bar or startup office with a screen projector and access to libations.
Roundtable or Panel
A roundtable is like a talk, but less of a one-way conversation. Instead, it’s a conversation between a collection of three or four speakers, and often input from the audience as well. Instead of focusing on a single project, roundtables usually tackle a general topic, like cybersecurity or cloud-based tools.
Lightning talks are a series of short talks, usually only 3-5 minutes long. This meetup entails slightly more preparation on your part: instead of a few speakers, you’ll need to find more like five. But lightning talks tend to bring in high attendance rates, and you can accommodate a lot of talks at once.
A happy hour is probably the easiest event to organize, since all you need to do is pick a bar and tell people to come hang out and network. This is why it’s usually a good fill-in for when you don’t have time to organize something more elaborate. In the U.S., it’s somewhat of a tradition to hold a “holiday happy hour” in December, when everyone’s already on pseudo-vacation. If you want to make sure you’re staying on point, you could promote it with something like, “Happy hour to discuss new meetups” or “Happy hour to brainstorm a hackathon.”
A workshop, unlike a talk or demonstration, is more like an actual paid course. An instructor will teach attendees how to scrape data with Python, for example, or map data with QGIS. It’s one of the more labor-intensive options for organizers, but also one of the more valuable for attendees. Often, these workshops provide the only free training journalists can get. You’ll need a classroom-type setup with a screen, projector, desks and lots of outlets or power strips.
A hackathon is a day, or a few days, where people get together to hack on whatever projects they want to. Hackathons probably entail the most preparation on the part of organizers, but they get right to the heart of the Hacks/Hackers mission. Pick a topic that’s relevant to your community and try to involve other groups like local civic hacking societies. You can find a list of hackathon tips on the H/H website.
An open lab may be the easiest meetup of all. All you have to do is find a space (even if it’s just a coffee shop) to get together and work on projects. It’s less formally organized than a hackathon, and usually much shorter – an afternoon, let’s say. Open labs can be good follow-ups to workshops or hackathons, so people can keep working on their projects.