This past week we hosted includeJS's first-ever mini-conf. It included four speakers, an amazing audience of the nicest and friendliest peoples, and it was magnificent.
Here are the highlights.
The prep permalink
Okay, confession time, this wasn't the most professionally organized conference on the planet. It was my first ever zoom conference, so much so that I was googling "how to make zoom co-host" 30 minutes before the kickoff.
After not having done meetups, streaming, or larger events for a while, I was feeling a little bit rusty.
Most of the conference organization happened one week before, but luckily it all worked out fine and dandy because everyone said yes (my requests come with lots of exclamation marks).
What was good permalink
The speaker rehearsal
I asked all the speakers to show up 15 minutes in advance, which gave us enough time to test everyone's setup (microphone levels, sharing screen) and make sure that things went smoothly.
It was great having two lovely moderators to help with the chat and getting people into zoom—one less thing to worry about.
The duration and the number of speakers felt right (it took us around 2 hours). Having a 5-minute break was a great idea, too (not to mention elevator music right there at the press of a button). And, obviously, the banner!
The banner permalink
The banner deserves its own subsection because it was amazing. So here's what happened (this is around 20 minutes before the conference, right):
Valerie: so, Eva, what's your website again?
Eva (agitated): includejs dot dev.
(makes note to get Valerie an includeJS tshirt)
V: Right. Got it.
(makes note to ask Valerie to design the includeJS tshirt)
V: Can you send me your conference banner?
(panic. does the absence of a banner mean that we are not a real conference?)
V: The conference banner. For the conference?
E: I don't have that.
(remembers that Valerie knows how to design stuff)
E: Can you make me one? 😬
V: Sure. I will. Because you are amazing.
The banner was heavily featured during the conference break and was, I believe, what made this mini-conf a success in the end.
Having the event as an invite-only was, I thought, a great idea. This meant that we wouldn't have to worry about intruders and also gave me the opportunity to collect a bunch of new emails that I can now spam with my Awesome Ideas.
More on that below.
Every (15-minute) talk was followed by a Q&A session which always resulted in a lively discussion that sometimes carried over in the chat. Having the chat sidebar was great, too, because it allowed everyone to be able to contribute. I think by the end of it, everyone had chimed in one way or another.
What could be even better permalink
Mixing talk types
I think it would be great to mix longer talks with lightning talks. If we get to do this again, I'll also try to encourage first-time speakers to contribute. CFP style.
For me, the best part of a tech conference (besides no queues during toilet breaks) is hanging out with people and meeting new peeps. However, I have no idea how this could be done well in Zoom (maybe a dedicated breakout session), but I think it would be a nice thing to have. Especially if we have more people next time.
Pomp and circumstance
I'm talking stickers. Tshirt. Mousepads. Keychains. Tattoos. The whole shebang. But that does mean sponsors and money and sigh...
Also, the conference ended rather abruptly 🤔 I'm an efficient goodbyer - I have to be, the Mrs is extremely bad at this and just keeps faffing about not knowing how to finish - so the conference ended in the Eva-style of: "Okay, goodbye now." It would be nice to have a more grandiose goodbye.
I'm talking fireworks. Timpani. Tattoos. The whole shebang.
(huh, does this shebang have anything to do with the bash shebang. Ugh, if only there was a way to find out...)
The Feedback permalink
I received a ton of positive feedback after the conference, with all of the comments raving about two things: the quality of the talks and the super welcoming community (and The Banner, of course!). I'll say more about the talks further down, so let me start with the community.
The includeJS community
is awesome. It's full of nice and kind and smart people that want to help each other get better. It's about learning and supporting each other and having fun. Or listening to others when they are having a bad day or just need to vent.
I asked our members to also invite their friends and coworkers, and they did. This resulted in having even more nice and friendly, and awesome people. "Wholesome" is what one feedback said. "You have something good going on there", said another. includeJS 4ever (#tattooIdeas)
Speaker lineup permalink
I was really impressed by our speakers and how their talks complemented each other. We talked about dev ops, 11ty, building a privacy-minded application, and upskilling yourself by teaching others.
Three of the talks were from our community members, and Stephanie showed up to show us The Way of 11ty", because she's awesome.
Special thanks to Elisabeth, who was the first one to agree to do a talk and basically kickstarted this whole thing.
If you are on Twitter, I definitely recommend you to follow these awesome ladies.
@elisabethirg - wtf is DevOps anyway?
@5t3ph - Introduction to 11ty (livecoding)
@raae - Building POW!; privacy first
@britnorcodes - Levelling up by teaching others
What's next? permalink
I would love to have a physical (as in, not violent or anything), a 3D, in your face (I mean, I don't mean like super loud), we-shall-all-be-in-the-same-room includeJS conference at some point, but probably not this year - it doesn't seem like we're there yet.
So, maybe baby includeJS mini-conf could happen again.