Thursday, 9 December 2010

Confessions of the User Group (dis)Organiser

Yesterday was the first Southampton SQL Server User Group and I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to arrange a successful one...

1) DON'T RUSH - Whatever you do, don't sit at work one day and think; I know, I'll start a UG, then pick the phone up and book a venue. Take your time, have a couple of months lead-up. This gives you time to organise and think of EVERYTHING.

2) DON'T LOOK AT A PICTURE OF THE VENUE AND THINK; THAT ROOM LOOKS OKAY - Visit the room. The size and shape of a small room can dictate the kind of UG that you can have. Is there going to be enough room to get a decent projection onto a wall or white-board? Can you move the chairs around and not affect the function of the room (blocking-off an area of the room)?

3) DON'T PUT DIRECTIONS TO VENUE UP THE DAY BEFORE THE EVENT - Put up directions or special instructions on the internet well in advance.

4) BRING A 4-WAY - Who knows where the power points are? There is a good chance there will not be power where you need power.

5) BELIEVE IN MURPHYS' LAW - If you can bring spare kit, just in case something goes wrong, then do it. What's the worst that can happen? You don't use it.

6) ORGANISE THE FOOD IN ADVANCE - As Murphy's Law states; what can go wrong will go wrong... Including my phone stopping working and managing to block my debit card when ordering food in a rush.

7) DON'T EXPECT PEOPLE THAT SAID THEY WOULD DEFINITELY TURN UP TO TURN UP - Random stuff happens; people say they can come, but life gets in the way. Always expect less people to turn up. Perhaps even 1/3 to 1/2 less.

And even if you don't manage to follow all these steps, it is still possible to have a really successful UG!

For the next UG, I have promised myself that I won't make the same mistakes again. I'll make a whole load of new ones!