Our rake in preparation for a hardcore conference
Three years ago, I had no experience in conducting conferences. From important memoirs - it was how I once fell asleep on someone's report, because there was frank captainhood. Around then, an understanding came to me that my conference for developers would be mega-hardcore and without jambs on reports.
I must say that I, like the team that formed in the process, were wildly lucky with a lack of experience. Now, when at least four times it turned out to be done as much as I wanted, I can say - on average, everything in the sphere is not doing the way the developer should. The reason is simple: conferences usually hold eychars to recruit new people. And order them to external agencies. Agencies recruit speakers without a system, not understanding what they will be talking about.
Actually, we must start over. So, conferences are needed for three things:
1. Sell the organizer's product to the audience, showing in practice that it is needed.
2. To attract as many new developers as possible (in the Java sphere, there is a real shortage of people with experience).
3. Or try to still teach someone, bringing smart people together. The last time I read about this was at Chertok in the book “Missiles and People,” when Soviet rocketers had to exchange knowledge, ideas and best practices.
Naturally, I wanted a third. But this idea has one fundamental flaw - money. On average, if after the conference there are no sales, or there is no plan for the captured trophy heads, there will be no payment. One way or another, they all go negative or slide into unformat. If you think that the conference is really worth paying for with tickets - you just never tried. Tickets are really expensive. More precisely, how. When you sold 1000 tickets to the participants of your past conferences - yes, everything will be fine. If not, you will have to look for other financing.
Hard problem solution
My team and I decided to narrow the conference area very much only to Java developers and only to those who really study, and do not go to conferences to relax from the office and get paper. And immediately they began to prepare hardcore hardcore - so that not a word about all sorts of business topics, without educational programs and snot.
The idea was that a clear and understandable product with the mechanics of "paid money - gained knowledge - raised the level - began to earn more" is the coolest. The fact is that the average Java developer has much more money than is necessary for a quiet life, but there is not enough for something serious. And it’s difficult to understand how to make a sharp leap to the next level, because we need very specific knowledge, which is given by smart uncles working in banks, highloads and so on. It turns out that those who think about development will easily change 5-10 percent of the monthly salary for a ticket, if it will be useful.
We were right, but more on that later.
The second important point was that there was headhunting, of course. Only its meaning is different. We realized that developers are pecking at tasks. If we talk about the complexity of the hyload in detail - tomorrow there will be a dozen resumes of optimizers, even if there is no vacancy. Although whom I am deceiving, there are always vacancies on highload projects now. So, provoking even just getting knowledge in the right field, we created a stream of employees to our sponsors. Because as I wrote the other day , the market is small. There are a dozen large companies in Russia, and each has its own specialization. And the salaries there are good, and the tasks are unique. Naturally, upgraded developers go there. And not immediately, but in fact - we create such an ecosystem part that contributes to this. Digging irrigation canals, if you like.
Fortunately, they understood us and gave us money. When we saw the result, it became clear that we were really dragging the Java theme. If you think about it, there’s nowhere to get such knowledge anymore - IT people in life are not the most sociable people, there are no special courses, other conferences are not hardcore. We hit the bull's eye. It was a surprise that a couple of large companies bought three dozen tickets for their own. The record was set by Deutsche Bank, which bought 82 (!) Tickets in April this year for its employees. They went straight to us really for further training! It was a definite success.
Naturally, since we are not an agency, understanding the organization and, most importantly, logistics was vague. At first it turned out very sideways - but it turned out that even the line to the dining room, of course, was unacceptable, but it was more than covered by the correct informational part.
From each conference, we collected a detailed feedback and analyzed each word of the participants. From the past of the Joker, we got 294 rational offers from the manual parsing of the feedback that stood in preparation. I will show you important points.
Reviews and their processing
“In general, the impressions are very positive. A little PR of their products, and more useful information (unlike some well-known conferences). Differentiation of reports is also good. I would like to somehow see a similar event in Moscow. ” This is a summary of last year's Joker conference. In fact, we immediately grasped what we wanted to convey - the conference is good, the difference is visible immediately, and this makes our conferences leaders in one of the parameters. And we are fighting for a utility parameter.
“Personal thanks to the organizers and owners of the miraculous rarities of the gaming industry. They revived good memories and made me wonder! ”- at the conference there was old iron: both Dendy-type consoles and old-time PCs. About half of the participants started with this. Warm tube nostalgia. Everything is at home - it’s immediately clear that ours and for ours.
“I basically liked the food itself, I didn’t like the crush at the (sic!) Left stand with a coffee and snacks. It was somehow better to direct the people. ” - Yes, this is our mistake. We didn’t think that we got zerg for food. If there was experience, everyone would have understood in advance. And here they were overloaded - but not enough, and noticeably. Someone didn’t even have time to drink coffee. We paid attention to the preparation, understood how best possible.
“Sandwiches are not for vegetarians!” - also by inexperience. There are no vegetarians among us.
“There was no final beer. This is very bad."- This is bad, but we will not do anything with it. Final beer - at the nearest Pauliner in the same hotel.
“Not enough cold drinks (juice or water).” - fact, they didn’t think about water during the reports. Corrected.
“I liked a lot more JavaOne'ov. Keep it up." - There were a lot of comparisons of Joker with JavaOne, and all in our favor. As they say, no comment.
“The halls are closer, registration could also be done faster” - registration is always a painful problem for the organization. We tried, but still got a little traffic jam. We figured out how to do better.
“Of course I didn’t pay for the ticket myself, but still. Make 200 rubles cheaper tickets that won't include stupid merch. Well, I don’t need a 100500 mug, a T-shirt and a bag. Let's save nature, all things. ” - Some people praised the merch, some scolded. Seriously, all this is necessary, otherwise there will be more negative. There should be something left in our hands, we checked it.
“Moving inside the conference was uncomfortable - this is the main point.” - the navigation was redone. This is also an old conference problem - we did not think that many people would not be able to walk in groups.
“Often the interesting lectures for me coincided in time. I had to skip some. ” AND“Four streams is too much. There were situations when there were three interesting reports at once. Alas, you can only go one. ” Here you probably need to rejoice, but there is also reason to think. We post videos for all participants. We will talk about this more explicitly.
“You guys are great. Do not let the community die out. In my opinion, Peter is now the only city that is able to hold independent conferences and gather people. ” - Fixed, made JPoint 2014 in Moscow. We are thinking about Novosibirsk.
“The girls (registration, the supply of microphones, etc.) were absolutely useless and walked around with an expression like“ What do you want from me all ?! ”
and immediately others, in the spirit: “ Girls are a peach)). ”
“The organizers are well done. There were no downtimes or serious technical issues. Everything was clearly on schedule, which is very pleasing. ” - in fact, there were overlays, but they were fixed very quickly. In a smart way, they should not have been at all, but we found many rakes for the first time.
“To level the level of speakers - some performed well, some changed, apparently there were few runs” - they changed the work with the speakers a bit, switched to the Call for papers system, tightened the review. But they will wrinkle anyway - we pull some out of our favorite sweaters and put them in the same room with living people. This can be shocking because of a habit, and there is nowhere to get a habit - PR specialists usually stand in place of backend specialists at other conferences.
“Start and end with cycles of simpler reports. In the morning and late in the evening the information is already hard to perceive. ” - After lunch, now we try to put something more polite. In general, here we must think.
“It is better to make badges double-sided and BIG, with a name written in large print” - yes, otherwise acquaintance with a girl begins with looking at boobs.
“I liked that Luxoft gave out bears. My friend had a birthday that day and I gave it to her. She was very pleased)))) " - the bear came in handy. But, you see, in this case it would be better if Luxoft would issue lace lingerie. Dude, did you get the idea? A year has passed, her birthday is soon again.
“There was no information about Unconference on the official website. And where it was (for example, on Habré), too much attention was paid to drinking. Strive to show this to the authorities. ” - about this we did not think at all.
There were, of course, reviews that we did not close. For example, this: “It would be possible to give a small description for each report in the program. Maybe it would have become a little bigger, but one could understand what the report is like (a review of the technology, just a discussion on the topic, practical advice or something else). ” We just did not have time to fix it, we will do it for the next conference.
In short, that night we ended up closing those almost three hundred improvement tasks.
The most important part of the work was to keep track of the level of reports. Such things in Russia almost do not, or do by eye. We conduct a speaker rating by 15 parameters: from the ratings in the questionnaire to the number of references to this report in social networks, links to it, video views, and so on.
Naturally, they considered the audience in the hall. Naturally, all the feedback on the report and the speaker was taken into account. By the way, anonymity helped a lot - after all, IT people are not shy about hacking the truth-uterus, even if it is not the most pleasant. Was it boring or dumb in places? So it is written! But, of course, sometimes it happened that someone had a revelation, someone argued, and someone already had a kindergarten.
We were asked a lot by the video - not everyone could come to St. Petersburg, and for many it was much more convenient to connect online so as not to leave home. We repent, but there was no broadcast at the last Joker.
Now it is. The price of an online ticket is the usual: the knowledge is the same, but there are no merchandise and gifts in the package. But - there is a delivery of a certificate of participation in the conference. With him, in general, a different story - it turned out that he was very much needed and was quoted at interviews by many companies. In addition, we are still uploading the video: the video becomes available to the participants of the online broadcast the very next day.
Actually, here. The new Joker is already on Monday, and I tried to lay out our experience in advance so that you can immediately see what we want and what we went through to this. A feedback already with a knowledge of history and a rake will be very useful. And if you make conferences yourself - forgive me for having walked around the corns of the sphere.
A minute of marketing
Ordinary tickets we have just a few pieces left, and most likely they will be sorted out today. But there are online ones, and they by definition do not end there. They stand like a day or two of your work. Inside - all the reports of Joker 2014: broadcast and then - access to the archive and certificate by mail. If in doubt - take a look, I promise, it's worth it. Do not like it or it will be too hardcore - I will return the money according to the first letter.
Here is a list of reports.
Here you can buy access.
If you still know the typical rake of ordinary conferences, please tell us. Now it’s unlikely that we will change something big, but for the future it’s useful.