Formats for Your Meetup - Tech Talks

Formats for Your Meetup - Tech Talks

Continuing the Tech Meetups Articles I look at formats to use or suggest at local meetups.

Meetup related is an article by Johann Romefort on 16 tips to organise the best tech meetups.

Meetup Formats for You

If you organise a meetup or want to give suggestions to a local meetup then we start with tech talks below.

Then following up with social formats (having a drink), last minute formats (when a speaker fails to show), unusual formats (everything else) and more unusual formats. Lastly we'll also cover ways to find speakers.

Tech Talks

Tech meetups are about learning and at most you will find one or more speakers talking about tech subjects. Length ranges from ten minutes to an hour or more and the speaker might be a local or someone famous in the tech world.

You may wish to vary your talks format to

  • Attract more attendees. The more talks the more chance one will appeal to them
  • Go into depth on a subject with the whole meetup around one talk
  • Accommodate a particular speaker who has a particular length talk in mind

Short Talks

One of my favourite formats is from our local Tech Exeter. They have three talks of around 15 minutes most times.

For their audience from across the tech world this is perfect. Speakers know they need a talk of 15 minutes and there is enough depth to use as a starting point to go and find out more.

If you don't find the subject of interest it is only 15 minutes long.

Lightning Talks

With 3-6 talks of 5-15 minutes each, Lightning talks cover lots of topics in relatively short time. You may also find a lightning talk before a standard tech talk.

They are perfect for introducing an idea or project and give a platform for trying out a talk they have an idea for.

Many speakers have started talking with a lightning talk in front of a local audience so if you have something in mind contact a local meetup to suggest it. .

Themed Talks

In 2017 at Data Science Exeter we decided to cover basic areas of Data Science by holding Hour of Data Visualisation, Hour of R and Hour of Machine Learning.

When we went to get speakers they knew what we were looking for and we gave a clear message to our members about what to expect. But we also had to turn away some speakers who had other things they wished to speak on.

You can use this to cover a topic from different perspectives with two or three talks of 15-30 minutes.

Enough Talk!

We've looked at regular talks, short talks, lightning talks and themed talks and why to vary them.

Share the favourite talk you've seen at a meetup with a comment here or tweet to @DuncanThom


Duncan Thomson

A Remote Software and Database Contractor specialised in Umbraco, Duncan works from wherever he finds himself. He is the co-organiser of the Python Exeter and Data Science Exeter meetup groups and speaks about Remote Working, Umbraco, Python and .NET Outside of work he is keen on travel, random generation, foreign languages and good food.

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