There are different types of events you may be creating. Here’re some event type patterns to think about.
A Taste Of…
This type of event is where the audience instantly gets down and dirty with the code. They may not understand what they are doing, but they are going through the motions of actually building and accomplishing something. This type of event usually has no slides. The attendees are expected to download and install required software prior to coming to the event. The goal for the attendees is to get an idea if this topic is even something they would want to pursue further.
This is a high-level overview of how a system works. The content usually consists of slides with diagrams. The audience expects to understand how lines connect the circles. There is no expectations of getting to hands-on experience. Overviews are usually up to a couple of hours.
At this point, the attendees are committed to picking up a new skills. Essentials training is supposed to enable them to accomplish the very basic tasks. As such, this type of training usually requires a few days to complete. Attendee would typically get the high-level overview of how things work (similar to Overview), get up to speed on setup and tools (A Taste Of) and start building essential skills on top of that.
This is the most comprehensive training for a specific technology. It takes you from knowing nothing about a specific technology to being proficient in building a typical solution in it. As such, it can take a whole week to complete. This is a very immersive experience. It is usually structured as an Essentials training with a few commonly used technologies bolted on top of it.
… At Your Organization
This type of training answers the question of how a specific technology is used at this particular organization. Participants are expected to already be familiar with the technology (at the Bootcamp level) but are typically new to the organization. This type of event goes into the details of tools and processes to use with this technology at this organization. It is both technical and hands-on.
Things have happened in the past that can provide for a valuable learning experience. As old times leave the organization, there’s a risk of them taking those insights with them forever. War Stories is a way to institutionalize this knowledge. Past events were sometimes successes and other times epic failures. It is important to create a safe place to share what really happened. The context should always be around learning and not finger pointing. A good format is to give the audience a sense of what the organization looked like at that point in time so they have the context. Next, tell them what happened. And finally, go over what the team learned from that experience. Paint the vivid picture. War Stories can be fun!
A Fireside Chat is an intimate conversation with someone who is ahead of you professionally. The goal is to learn via experience sharing. The audience typically prepares questions ahead of time. Best format for the question is in the form of “Tell me a time when you had to deal with X”. The presenter is usually someone who is one or ideally more levels ahead of the attendees on the same ladder. The presenter is sharing their experience. As such, the presenter has almost no prep work. This makes it easy to recruit VPs and the upper management for one-hour lunch sessions to pick their brain and learn from their experiences.
TechTalks could be on anything technical. They are usually lean-back experiences where attendees come to a talk, often during lunch, to hear someone present a technical topic for an hour or two.
These events are hands-on experiences. Attendees come up with their own ideas of what they want to build and deliver that by the end of the event. Hackathons can be anywhere from an evening to a full week in length. Attendees may form teams. It is important to balance the autonomy of what they work on with the possibility that it may relate to the business.
We all like to read in order to get better at what we do. Book clubs are a valuable experience of reflecting on key takeaways from a book that the presenter has read.