by David Dias
What I learned about my side project and myself after presenting at meetups in Europe
In October 2017, I launched my first open-source project on Github: the Front-End Checklist. In few hours, the project gained international visibility. After that, for a number of weeks, I had an incredible journey with many people around the world. I recently started giving talks in local communities around Spain and Portugal about the project, and I plan to check out France later on.
Doing these presentations gave me a different perspective and vision about the worldwide communities who organize meetups regularly. I discovered that there were an huge number of people who were looking for more and more content and wanted to participate in local communities.
After initiating the Front-End Dev Mauritius community, I know how complicated it can be to find people willing to share their experiences about Front-End Development. And for some, such as those who recently have moved from another city or country, having a welcoming tech community is important to getting setting up.
I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned before, during, and after these meetups I participated in throughout Europe. And I want to encourage you to participate more in local events no matter where you are today.
Lesson #1: even if local communities don’t always send you a response, don’t give up!
Knowing that I would be on holiday for few weeks in France, Spain, and Portugal I decided to try contacting local groups in Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Aveiro, and Porto. I sent messages directly to the founders of local groups using Meetup.com, or contacted them via Twitter when they had specified their account on their profile. But, as I was expecting, I didn’t receive a lot of replies at first.
In Barcelona however, Bettina from Ignit, who managed the “Barcelona Front-End Development Meetup”, answered me really quickly. We decided, after some email exchanges and a phone call, to have a meetup on 14 March about my project.
In Madrid, the “Front-end Developers Madrid” organizers never answered me. But Juan Macias, a teacher’s assistant at “Ironhack Madrid,” did everything to help me setup a talk, which I gave on 16 March.
In Lisbon, Shannon Graybill from “Lisbon Le Wagon” showed a lot of interest in having me do a presentation. But we lost touch after we tried to call each other few times without setting a time. Besides, I decided not to present in Lisboa, but instead tried to do something in Porto (easier for me, as I was in Aveiro for two weeks).
Then in Porto I contacted Ricardo Mendes, who usually organizes “Porto Codes”. After few messages and emails, we decide to organize a talk on 5 April at Porto.io, at a coworking space in the middle of the city.
Lesson #2: try to know your audience, or prepare your talk to be accessible for anyone
One of the first rules I learned about giving a talk or a presentation was to “know your audience.” That is maybe the most challenging but nonetheless important rule you need to have in mind.
A few days before each talk, I went through all the profiles on Meetup, trying to know my future audience better. Unfortunately, most of the people don’t put their Twitter or Facebook account in their profiles. They don’t often answer some basic questions sent by the owner of the group when they subscribe, which makes it really hard for a speaker learn about the target audience of a meetup.
I sent a tweet to some people before the meetup in Barcelona, but I didn’t receive any responses. Next time 😉.
Since I didn’t know my audience in advance, I then decided to ask about each person’s career just before I started my talk. I adapted my content and discourse depending on their responses and it seemed that my slides were understandable by any level.
Lesson #3: always check for other local events when you decide on a date for a meetup
I’m not a fan of football (although my father is) — I never felt passionate about it. But that was something that would’ve been useful to think about before setting the Barcelona meetup’s date. Twenty-three peopole planned to come, but just…2 of them came. I discovered afterwards that “Barcelona — Chelsea” was probably one of the reasons why people didn’t come.
For me, it was an awesome time. I was able to focus more on specific questions asked by Jimmy from Los Angeles and Costa Rica and Marcela from Mexico (I also won’t forget the delicious pizza we ate after the meetup at Anauco).
Lesson #4: printing your username on a tee-shirt can be helpful
That might sound crazy, but printing my username on a tee-shirt was one of the things I’m happy I did. Some people may ask you how to contact you or may be too shy to do so. But with your username “on you,” it’s impossible not to find you on Internet (or forget who you are 😅)!
Lesson #5: remember to tell stories and share what motivates you
Telling stories is not that hard.
Lots of talks I’ve heard in the past, from different people, seemed “empty,” without any soul. Doing a talk is much more for me than a simple exposition of facts or numbers or code. It’s about a story, how someone found a way to develop their application, how some new technologies can improve the way we work in our daily lives, and so on.
In my case, it was how a “simple” checklist changed the way I see the Front-End worldwide community, and the way that some people will work in the future.
Lesson #6: you don’t need to be the best to share something with someone else
That is maybe one of the biggest lesson I wanted to share with you in this post: you don’t need to be the best or the expert to share what you know or what you’ve learned before.
Lot of beginners with less than a couple years of experience don’t feel confident sharing what they know with others, because they think they don’t know enough.
From my point of view, that’s the wrong belief. Whether you have experience or not, you always have something useful that can be shared with others. It’s as simple as that. And it’s something some people need to start believing once and for all.
Lesson #7: don’t forget to take photos before everyone leaves!
If your audience is used to sharing photos on Twitter or other social media, you’re lucky — you’ll have some photos of you to help you remember your talk or show the presentation you did. They might even come in handy if you want to write an article about it 😅.
But taking a group photo with all your attendees is a fun thing to plan before everyone runs out of the meetup. I failed on that point many times, and I was only able to take a picture in Porto with the two organisers, including Tim Lai.
Lesson #8: ask for feedback to improve your next talks
This is another thing I missed, but I now know how useful it could’ve been. Having feedback on any work or talk can be really helpful when we try to improve ourselves and the way we present things.
And in case you didn’t read my article about how everything began, take a look at it here.
Putting it all together
Giving these talks in different cities and countries helped me learn how much can be shared and taught to an incredible number of people. During these last few years, while learning and sharing my vision of Front-End development, I wasn’t able to see how large the community of people wanting to become better actually was.
We can start with something really small, and that small thing can give us the opportunity to meet people and give them something they needed or were searching for.
Now, let’s recap each point I went through:
- Even if local communities don’t always send you a response, don’t give up!
- Always check for other local events when you decide on a date for a meetup
- Try to know your audience before, or prepare your talk to be accessible for anyone
- Printing your username on a tee-shirt can be helpful
- Remember to tell stories and to show your motivation
- You don’t need to be the best to share something with someone else
- Don’t forget to take photos before everyone leaves
- Ask for feedback to improve your next talk
Thank you for reading!
That’s it. In case you like my article and find it useful, here are some things you can do to show your support:
- Hit the clap 👏 button on this article a few times (don’t be afraid, you’ll not break anything)!
- Give a star ⭐️ on GitHub: https://github.com/thedaviddias/Front-End-Checklist (It’s important for me to continue launching other open-source projects)
- Follow me on GitHub: https://github.com/thedaviddias
(Take a look on my last projet: the Front-End DESIGN Checklist)
- Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedaviddias