Tips on Hosting a SharePoint Saturday Event

Christian Buckley

Christian is a 7-time Office Servers and Services MVP, internationally-recognized technology evangelist and collaboration expert, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Sherman Woo

    Having just recently run SPS Vancouver, I’ll add the following points:

    – Read the SPS Guide from the group. Read it again.
    – As the guide suggests, try and do a survey so that you get a feel for what people are interested in. We didn’t (have time), but wish we did.
    – On the survey or registration form, ask people what their primary role is: dev, IT pro, designer/UE, business user. This will give you a guide to know which sessions might be in higher demand. (You may not get many options for speakers/sessions, so you want to make sure you have room for the “popular” ones.)
    – Use Eventbrite. It rocks, and we used the iPad/iPhone app to check-in ppl as they arrived.
    – As Christian says, reach out to the local companies as best as you can. Knock on doors to let them know about the event. Use the local consulting companies/Microsoft partners and have them spread the word to their contacts. Use recruiters to have them spread the word to their candidates.
    – On the eval forms, or post conf follow-up via Eventbrite, ask attendees where they are from. It will give you an idea how far people travelled to get to the event. Also ask them how they heard about the event; it will help you understand how to get the message out either for your local SPUG or for next time. 🙂
    – Use the announcement opportunities to thank everyone like Christian says, over and over, as if you are a race car driver thanking your sponsors. Also promote your local SPUG!

    Vancouver went really really well. There was a lot of positive feedback from all groups: sponsors, speakers, attendees.

    Find me on Twitter, I’ll be glad to answer any questions: @SPSherm

  • Great points, Sherman.

    And by the way, SPSVAN is a great example of reaching out to the community for help. Sherman approached me with questions about starting his Vancouver event this summer, and while I was unable to attend (I was confirmed as a speaker for the SPS Boston event), I shared my insights on planning and sponsors, and did my best to help support and promote his event — as I’m sure other former SPS hosts also did.

    I don’t think there is a set way of doing any of this. Some things that worked for one location may not work in others. Read through these tips, learn from past event hosts, and don’t be shy — ask a lot of questions.