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MongoDB User Group Playbook


Dear MUG Organizer,



Welcome to the MongoDB User Group Playbook!

As a MUG organizer, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge, experience, and skills with the MongoDB community. Organizing a MUG is a great way to advance your career, network with other talented engineers, and learn new skills. It’s also a lot of fun!

In the following pages, we’ve gathered best practices from community leaders on organizing great MUGs. We’ve also included our observations from our experiences supporting over 100 organizers.

Whether it’s your first MUG or your thousandth, we hope that you discover new ideas in this guide. And if you have a tip or trick that isn’t included, please share it with us.

Best,

The MongoDB Community Team

Part 1

Organizing Your Event

Planning Your Event

It’s time to plan your MongoDB User Group! But how do you get started? Here’s what you need to know.

Finding a venue
Finding a home for your MUG is the first step. Here are some possible meeting spaces:
You can also:
  • Research technical training facilities that donate space
  • Check where other local user groups (e.g. Java User Groups, Linux User Groups, etc.) are meeting
  • Inquire if one of your members can host at their office

What does the ideal venue look like? Here are a few attributes:
  • Centrally located and easy to get to
  • Close to public transportation and/or near parking
  • Has A/V facilities available such as projector or TV
  • Wifi access
  • Seating for 50+ attendees

When you start, your group will likely fit in a conference room, board room or even a cafe. As you begin to meet regularly, your group will grow and you will likely need to find a larger venue.

When you book your venue, make sure to ask about any special security requirements for venue access (i.e. does the host need a list of attendees in advance?), parking instructions, and wifi access. Be sure to include those details on your event RSVP page.

Most companies will be delighted to host your group. You are bringing talented professionals into their office! Offer to make your hosts official sponsors of the group. Give them the opportunity to address the audience at the beginning of the event for a few moments to talk about their product/service. List them as a sponsor on your event page. Thank your host during the event. Make it valuable for your host so they keep inviting you back!

Choose a date and time
Before you schedule your event, make sure to double check the calendar for related meetups, as well as holidays. We recommend surveying your members for dates/times that work well and getting your group into a regular meeting cadence (meeting at the same time every month or quarter).

Finding a speaker
Great content is the most important part of a great user group. There are many ways that you can find speakers for your event:
  • Ask your membership. The best way to do this is in person during the previous month’s event, where you’ll often discover interesting MongoDB use cases.
  • Visitors. Is there an interesting conference in town? You might want to look at the roster to see if there is a great speaker that would be appropriate for your event.
  • Lightning talks. Short presentations are a great way to get the crowd engaged without asking someone to commit to building a lengthy presentation. It’s a great way to introduce your members to presenting.
  • Study groups. Does your group have a lot of beginners? Consider working together on the next MongoDB University online course and helping each other through the coursework. Perhaps you can all become Certified Professionals!
  • Join forces. Consider partnering up with another group in your area to host joint events. Search on meetup.com for groups that have similar interests.
  • MUG Download. Check out the monthly download of content from MongoDB. We make great content available for your users every month if you don’t have a planned presentation.
  • Ask MongoDB. We often know about customers and partners in your area that might be available to present. Feel free to contact us for suggestions.

Speaking about MongoDB
Are you trying to convince someone in your group to speak? Or trying to work up the courage yourself? Here are a few reasons to present on MongoDB:
  • Personal Name Recognition: Get your name out there with MongoDB enthusiasts
  • Association with a great product gives you credibility
  • Boost your speaking abilities and practice presenting
  • Polish your knowledge of MongoDB - speaking forces you to deepen your knowledge
  • Spread the word about a program that has changed and enhanced your career
  • Showcase your company - speaking on specific use cases can be an easy way to promote your own organization
  • Recruit candidates with MongoDB interest or skills

As you are getting your talk ready, it’s helpful to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. These are the things your audience members are probably looking to get out of their MUG experience:

  • Audience members want to learn from you and from your experience
  • Attendees hope to meet other MongoDB users to network and exchange ideas
  • Use cases and experience help people avoid similar errors

Why is it important to share your experience with others?

  • Every presentation given grows the collective knowledge base about MongoDB
  • Participation in events helps strengthen the community around MongoDB

What should you talk about?
Teach something! MUG members have different levels of experience with MongoDB, but everyone wants to learn more. The best presentations come from experience. Talk about topics you are comfortable with --- as technical or as conceptual as they may be.

Some great topics to include:
Top ten tips for being an awesome presenter:
  • Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse! Practice running through your slide deck and consider how well your talk flows from one slide to the next. You may find that some slides are unnecessary or hard to explain without further details. It's very helpful to get an idea of the timing for your talk so you aren't trying to fit 40 minutes of slides into a 25 minute session (or vice-versa).
  • Know your audience: If you're presenting at a meetup or event, you should ideally attend at least one prior event so you have an idea of typical attendees and the level of technical detail expected. The event organizer should also be able to give you some guidance on the level of MongoDB experience and what the audience might be particularly interested in.
  • Know your venue: Ask about the room/venue where you will be presenting so you can match your slide deck to the environment. Consider the room size and available A/V options (projector, TV, sound, ...) and for projectors/TVs ask about the native resolution (i.e. 1280x720) and available connectors (HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA).
  • Be concise: Avoid including full text such as sentences and paragraphs in your slides, and try to minimize the number of slides included. The audience is there to hear you share your experience, not to read your slides.
  • Be visual: A clever picture, easy to read chart, or even simple bullet points can convey clear information. Visuals are often more effective than code examples, and can also be useful if you want to adapt the level of detail in your talk delivery based on the audience.
  • Use big fonts: Some meeting rooms are large and text may be hard to see from the back of the room.
  • Check for contrast: Depending on the brightness of the room and the A/V equipment, some color combinations may look great on a laptop screen but be difficult for the audience to read on a projector.
  • Focus code samples: As a rule of thumb, keep code samples between 8-10 lines for simple readability. Highlight the important lines.
  • Check your spelling and grammar: Attention to detail is important, particularly for technical audiences. Obvious spelling and grammar errors can be distracting and some audience members may feel compelled to point these out.
  • Consider speaker notes: Many user group organizers make slides available online after the user group. Consider adding speaker notes with some extra context to explain slides for viewers who don't have the benefit of your accompanying talk.

Step 2 - Promoting Your Event

Now that you’ve scheduled your MUG and lined up a great speaker, how do you get people to attend your event?

Start promoting your event at least one month in advance.

Create an event page
The majority of MUG organizers create their group and RSVP pages on meetup.com. Meetup.com is widely adopted and provides cross-promotion across members of the platform. Meetup will help promote your group to members of similar groups so that your group grows organically. MongoDB invites MUG organizers to join our global meetup account. We will cover your fees and feature your group as part of our global program. Contact us to learn more.

You can discover all MUGs on meetup, or create a new meetup, at http://www.meetup.com/pro/mongodb/

Connect with similar groups
Once you’ve created your group on meetup.com, you may want to contact groups with similar interests directly to see if they would be interested in attending your meeting. You can find many such groups right on meetup.com. This is a great opportunity to see if other groups might be interested in organizing a joint event.

You can also post your event on local event digests or mailing lists. Some great lists for promoting your event include: Email your Co-Workers
Don’t forget your own team. Send out a short e-mail a few weeks in advance. Encourage them to forward to others.

Step 3 - Running your event


48 Hours Before Make it easy for speakers and guests to attend your event by sending out a reminder email 48-hours prior with any necessary details, such as:
  • Parking instructions and/or public transportation directions
  • Security / check-in instructions (such as “bring photo ID”)
  • WiFi instructions
  • Details about the A/V setup
  • Your contact information
  • Ways to connect on social media

We’ve included some reminder templates that you can use in this guide as a starting point. Just flip to the end of this guide.


Food and Drink Many MUGs offer food and drink for their guests. The easiest option is pizza, since it’s inexpensive and easy. In many cases, the host or a corporate sponsor is willing to provide $100-200 for pizza and soda for a group in exchange for being listed as a sponsor and the opportunity to address the group. And if your MUG meets regularly, MongoDB will fund refreshments for an annual event.

Here are some tips for ordering pizza. We recommend using the pizza calculator to determine how many pies to buy. Use the measurement “average eaters” which assumes people will eat 2 slices each.

Since MUGs are free events, you should always plan for drop-off when you order food. Many meetups have a 50-60% attendance rate from RSVPs, especially when they are getting started. Depending on how new or active your group is, you may even want to order pizza shortly before your talks start.

Make sure to ask for utensils, plates, cups (for drinks), and napkins with your order notes! Not all restaurants include them.

Set up early Arrive at the venue early to test the A/V and make sure that the space is set up to your liking. You want to make sure that everyone who arrives will have a good view of the presenter. It’s a good idea to set up clear signage from the entrance of the building to the room where the event is happening. In the absence of signs, consider “human arrows” - a volunteer or two stationed at key spots to help direct people through the venue and answer questions.

Facilitate networking Provide nametags for attendees and allow time at the beginning of the event for guests to mingle and get to know each other or catch up. This is a great opportunity to uncover potential speakers and volunteers for future events! Take photos as people begin to come in and network that you can post on social media.

Be the MC Once people are settled in, introduce yourself, the group, the host, and the first speaker. Take photos during the presentation and encourage people to converse on Twitter during the presentation. At the end of the presentation, thank everyone for coming and and ask for volunteers, speakers and suggestions for topics for the next meeting.

Follow up At the end of the meetup, follow up with the presenter to make sure that you get their slides so you can send them out to the MUG members and tweet to the group. If you’ve already scheduled your next event, make sure to announce it to the members of your group. If you haven’t, this is another great opportunity to solicit speakers, venues, and volunteers.

You should also share the content from your MUG with the MongoDB community team. We would be happy to post pictures on Facebook and tweet out your slides.

Part 2

Being a Great Organizer

Get into a cadence
We’ve found that the most successful organizers get their groups into a regular cadence. They meet on a consistent schedule, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or some other schedule, and they typically meet at the same place or alternate between venues. The members get into a rhythm with the group and come to expect the MUG at a specific time and place.

A MUG doesn’t have to meet monthly. One great meetup a quarter is often better than three ordinary meetups a quarter. And in many cases, MUGs that meet quarterly will build momentum and start meeting monthly.

Publish your yearly calendar of events if you can. Even noting the next 1 or 2 meeting dates helps.

Make it a team effort
Organizing a MUG takes some effort, so assembling some co-organizers can greatly increase your chance of success. Having co-organizers also means that you’ll have more ideas for speakers and content, and new channels for promotion. During MUGs, always ask your members if people are interested in volunteering or co-organizing. The more hands on deck, the better.

You can also ask if members are part of other meetup groups that might like to partner with your MUG.

Over-communicate
Coordinating with speakers, hosts, and sponsors requires follow up. A great organizer always sends detailed reminder emails.

Plan ahead
When you are running your event, have the next meetup date scheduled so you can announce in advance and solicit speakers.

Let MongoDB help!
MongoDB has lots of resources to help MUGs. We can help promote your group, connect you with speakers, suggest venues, and more. Feel free to ask us!

Part 3

How Can MongoDB Help

Monthly MUG Download
Looking for content? Every month, we provide our MUG organizers with a presentation that you can use with your group. All presentations are stored in our Community Github repo for reference and easy download. We send the MUG Download to all MUG organizers. To get on the email distribution, contact us here.

Connect you with venues or speakers
If you’re having trouble finding space or speakers, we may be able to connect you with a MongoDB partner or customer in your region. Just contact the community team and we’ll set up a call to talk about it.

Anniversary MUG
For MUGs that have been actively meeting throughout the year, MongoDB will sponsor an anniversary meeting on the month your user group was founded. We’ll provide you with funds for food and drink at your event so you can celebrate the success of your group.

Promotion of Your Group
Do you want to get the word out about your group? MongoDB can help. We would be happy to tweet about your upcoming event from @mongodb, share photos or slides from your events, and help spread the word about your MUG.

Meetup.com Sponsorship
For groups that are meeting regularly (at least once a quarter), we invite you to join our global Meetup.com account. MongoDB will cover your meetup fees and you will be featured as part of our global program.

You can see MUGs on our global meetup account at http://www.meetup.com/pro/mongodb/

Promote YOU
Tweet about your event and send us a link to your tweet at meetups@mongodb.com so we can RT it from @MongoDB!

Checklist for running your event
We've created an event checklist to help you keep track of your event before, during, and after. You can download it here.

Part 4

Email Templates

Request to speak


Subject: Invitation to present at [your city] MongoDB User Group.

Hi [first name],

My name is [first name] and I’m the organizer of the [city] MongoDB User Group. We have [XX] members and meet at [meeting place] to discuss MongoDB development and operations best practices.

Based on your experience with [insert details about experience], we would like to invite you to present at our MUG. Speaking at our MUG is a great opportunity to share your knowledge with talented engineers, to network, and have fun. We would also be happy to run through your presentation prior to the MUG to help you prepare.

Our next event is on [date and time]. We hope that you can join us!

Thanks,

[your name/company]


Request to host


Subject: Hosting the [your city] MongoDB User Group (MUG)

Hi [first name],

My name is [name] and I’m the organizer of the [city] MongoDB User Group. We are a professional organization for software engineers and operators with [XXX] members. We meet on a [monthly] basis to discuss MongoDB development and operations best practices.

We are looking for a venue to host our group. As a host, we would list your organization as an official sponsor of the MUG. We would also be happy to have you greet our attendees at the beginning of each event and share what your team is working on, including any open positions that you may have.

Please let us know if you are interested in hosting us. We would be very grateful!

Thanks,

[your name/company]


Reminder to speakers


Hi [first name],

This is a friendly reminder that you are speaking at our next MUG! Here are the details for reference:

Date:
Time:
Location:
Parking/Transit/Directions:
A/V details:
My contact info:


Please arrive at least 15 minutes early so that we can test the A/V setup.

We’re looking forward to having you at our event!

Best regards,

[your name/company]


Reminder to hosts


Hi [first name],

We’re looking forward to having our MUG in your space on [date/time]! We wanted to confirm the final details related to our event:

We will be arriving to set up and test A/V at [insert time]. Guests will be arriving at [insert time] and will be entering via [insert entrance and any special security details]

We are instructing guests to [park here, take subway to that stop] We will be using [insert details about the A/V discussed] Food + drink arriving at [insert details] Wifi network [insert details] You are welcome to address the audience at the beginning of the event to discuss your products/services, open positions, or anything else that you’d like My contact info is [insert mobile number & email]

Thanks again for hosting us!

Best regards,

[your name/company]


Reminder to attendees


Hi all,

We’re looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming MUG! This month our session will be at [location] on [date/time]. We’ve got a great session lined up on [insert details on session] with [name of presenter] presenting.

A few reminders about the MUG:

Please arrive via the [insert entrance and any special security details, such as “bring photo ID”] You can [park here, take subway to that stop] You can join the conversation by following [@mongodb] on Twitter or using the #MongoDB hashtag We will have [food + wifi] at the event!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at [insert contact information]. See you on [Date/Time] at [location]!

Best regards,

[your name/company]