How to prepare for a LUG meet

The BLUG prides itself for its successful meetings every month. It wasn't always like this, but over the years we learnt to do it right. Here are some tips:
  1. Don't have more than 1-2 demo items lined up. While the demonstrator may be completely comfortable with the subject, the audience is not (otherwise why should this be demoed? ;-), so the explanations are going to take time. Even an item that you think will take 10-15 minutes *can* (and probably will) take an hour or more.

  2. Don't attempt to do every little thing during the demo. It will not work. Instead, try and make resources available online (precompiled RPMs, kernels, packages, etc.) and concentrate on showing the usability of the procedure/technology. Watching a kernel compile can quickly grow old. Instead, show the kernel config part, show how the kernel compile starts, but then abort it and use a pre-compiled kernel you have brought with you to complete the demo.

  3. If there are more than a couple of steps involved, you *better* make sure that you have documented the entire procedure and put it up a web page somewhere before the meet. If you expect people to take notes and then follow directions from them, you might as well not do the demo.

  4. Try to group technologies for the meet. For example, if you are talking about (and demoing) journalling file systems, then have the other demos/talks related to this - for example talk about ext3, reiserfs, xfs, data recovery, undeletion, filesystem tuning, partitioning, etc.

  5. Don't do too much during one meet - you exhaust your resources, can provide only little time to each item, and will have a tough time following up on that act at the next meet! Remember - one great meet with lots of things happening gets wiped from memory the first time you have a content-less (or low-content) meet. Keep it going - nothing is so urgent that you have to do it all in one meet!

  6. A planned and well executed meet, with on-time demos and talks, and no overruns, ensures that people feel like coming back for the next meet, and bring a few friends with them! At the BLUG, we saw attendence rising from around 8 average to almost a hundred at times - with *at least* 60-80 people at every meet, thanks to word of mouth.

  7. Practice, practice, practice! I have yet to meet anyone who could give a presentation completely extempore and without practice and *still* be very effective. *Knowing* the subject does not make you a good presenter. Knowing the subject *and* practicing your presentation makes you a good presenter.

  8. Before you start your demonstration, put up a few(!!!!) slides explaining what you are about to demo, concepts involved, and steps involved. *Then* proceed with your demo.

  9. You *do* have a data projector at hand, right? If you have more than 5 people at the meet and plan to demo off a *monitor* (smaller than 45"), you are ensuring that no one learns anything and that you will never have more than 5 people attending meets! Data projectors are expensive, but many companies have one inhouse, so you could borrow one, or you can hire one (which probably means that you need a sponsor - these things are expensive). Whatever - make sure you have one at the meet.

Atul Chitnis


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