Running Techorama with Gill Cleeren

Episode #9 Published Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Welcome to another episode of Developer Weekly. This week, I'm talking with Gill Cleeren about creating community meetups and an incredible tech conference. Gill is a Microsoft Regional Director, MVP and Pluralsight author. He also founded Techorama, the biggest IT conference in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In this episode I talk with Gill Cleeren about creating and maintaining community events. We talked about the history of Techorama, running a usergroup and how that is different from running a big conference and how to grow and maintain a community. 

Gill Cleeren is a Microsoft Regional Director, MVP and Pluralsight author. Gill is a freelance solution architect living in Belgium. He focuses on web and mobile development and loves Xamarin. He's also a frequent speaker at many international conferences. Gill also founded Techorama, the biggest IT conference in Belgium and the Netherlands. You can find his website at www.snowball.be.

 

Show resources:

Full transcript:

Barry Luijbregts  0:20  

Welcome to another episode of developer weekly. This week. I'm talking with Gil clear and about creating community meetups and an incredible tech conference. Gil is a Microsoft Regional Director, MVP and Pluralsight author. He also founded Techorama, which is the biggest IT conference in Belgium and the Netherlands. Welcome, Gill, how are you doing today?

 

Gill Cleeren  0:43  

Hi, Barry. I'm good. How are you?

 

Barry Luijbregts  0:45  

Yeah, I'm very good. I'm very good. Thank you very much. You know, I think it's going slightly better here in the Netherlands. COVID wise than in Belgium. I think you guys are closing down a little bit more. 

 

Gill Cleeren  0:49  

We are indeed closing down again. So they're older. The initial plans that I was making already for the fall are, yeah, pretty much out of sight again. So I don't think lots of these will actually be able to get through. So yeah, we're not doing that well, at this point.

 

Barry Luijbregts  1:13  

Well, you know, we just have to live with this stuff. And it's gonna be while I guess, I think so. Yeah. I don't think it will definitely get worse before it gets better.

 

Gill Cleeren  1:22  

Yeah. But it will get better at some point. 

 

Gill Cleeren  1:37  

 Yeah, I like to working from home. But yeah, there's something that says You've been inside too much and and not traveling for too long. So that is really bothering me at this point. I think that's the that's the thing I miss mostly. So the a lot of traveling just like you and yeah, that's that's probably the thing I miss most because normally I'm away from home one or two weeks a month and now that's been reduced to zero. So that is starting to hurt really so.

 

Barry Luijbregts  2:25  

Yeah, yeah, you know, first world problems.

 

Gill Cleeren  2:28  

It is a first world problem but yeah, you're used to it. So yeah. In the meantime, you were used to sitting in but there's not a lot of of cake between the days. Monday Tuesday and Sunday it's all pretty much the same now so yeah, yeah, that's that's what I miss most there's nothing really to, to look forward to. And so that that's that's, I think what a lot of people in our situation really have at this point.

 

Barry Luijbregts  2:53  

Yeah, yeah, that's the thing isn't it? Well, we're still pretty lucky I guess because we can work from home a lot as well. Because we do all of our stuff digital, so you know, we will count our blessings.

 

Gill Cleeren  3:04  

Indeed, I think, indeed we complain. But I think a lot of people are in a much worse situation than we are, sir. Oh, yeah. For us, there's not that much of a change in terms of what we can do and work we can actually still do for the customers. That's indeed a big plus. All right.

 

Barry Luijbregts  3:19  

So before we get into tech around and community stuff, I want to talk about you for a bit. So how did you first get started in technology?

 

Gill Cleeren  3:29  

So I'm, actually I graduated nearly 20 years ago now. So it'll be 20 years of time. I'm working. So I started at a at a pretty difficult time, in 2000. What am I saying? I started in 2003. So it's only I'm only 17 years so I'm, I'm younger than I was thinking. So. Anyway, so it's 17 years that I've been working in. So that was still a pretty difficult time, but that was 2000 So we're not that far away from from 911. And the.com bubble was also still pretty recent. So there's a lot of a lot of people that graduated together with me and had a hard time getting into tech and had a hard time getting that first job. I got lucky. I started the as an intern at a small company, got the first job there for about, I think, one and a half years. And so yeah, by then it it started to get better again. And I immediately started in Microsoft technology. Because at the school, I was already doing dotnet and the official official curriculum was was Java but I think in the second or third year, I started doing dotnet on my own. And that's how I also got in contact with people from Microsoft at the time. I didn't think the MSP program already existed but I got some internal contacts at macro stuff. And that's also how I got my first internship after my internship in Microsoft technology and never looked back, basically. So that's that was pretty much coinciding with dotnet dotnet the first releases of dotnet 2014 that the error, that error, I started out with it, so yeah, that that and basically, I've never looked back started doing dotnet and have been doing dotnet for 1718 years now. So that's that specific basically the, my world and has been my world and I think it will always remain my world. Yeah. And yeah, so initially, I started doing ASP, net winforms here, we didn't have a lot of other things at the time. Yeah. So it was still pretty concise. I remember at the time I was telling that to some some someone there today, at that point, I had the MSDN library printed out in some books. So that's, that's it. How limited it was at that point. That's when winforms and web forms. That's, that's all we had. So, I made the dive illusion. And basically, I've been doing consultancy for her for my entire career. That's also how I got in contact with lots of interesting projects because I could hop from from one project to the other pretty much. And started, because we're here to talk about community as well, not just about me. I started getting involved in the community. already pretty early, I think often I was working like two, three years. I got him, I got to hear that there was a couple of people here in Belgium. I'm thinking of starting a user group. And so that's that's basically my, that has been my entry, let's say into, into community. And yeah, that's, that's no 15 years ago or something. So it's also already quite a long time. time ago. 

 

Barry Luijbregts  7:02  

Wow. Back then they started the community already. That is a long time ago. Yeah. might be one of the first communities. 

 

Gill Cleeren  7:07  

It was actually the first user group initiative that I that yet. Like I said, I was also still pretty young in the field. But it was, I think it was really one of the first user groups that definitely around the Microsoft stack, in any case, was was created. There was a couple of people from Microsoft involved here in Belgium. So from the local sub, and then, so my, my colleague and partner in crime Peter here since he actually started it, and I joined like a couple of months after, the first thing I did was building the website for for the user group. And then I basically got involved more and more and started organizing the events. And so yeah, we I think we've been running the user group now for I think it's 2005 2000 Six years to 14 or 15 years that we've been, well, the user group.

 

Barry Luijbregts  8:04  

Yep. And this is then the VISUG usergroup, the Visual Studio user group, as well, that's still around today?

 

Gill Cleeren  8:07  

That is still around today. Yeah, that is still active. Apart from this year, which has been special, the user group runs an event pretty much every month. Usually an in person event, and has been doing that for so many years has been, I think, I think on the mailing list is about a couple thousand people, three 4000 people. It's it's also user group that has been lucky enough to always have quite a few companies that that help out with sponsorship and, and and the venue for events and stuff like that. So yeah, it's been still going well, so it's an old us, man. Yeah.

 

Barry Luijbregts  8:54  

Yeah. That is very impressive. How have you seen the user group change over the years Did you see for instance, the audience changed a lot? 

 

Gill Cleeren  9:02  

That is something that the audience is an interesting one. So Peter and I, and my wife is now also involved. So my wife also helps out. And she actually does a lot of the management of the user group now, because I'm more involved with with my own company and an antique aroma. But it's something that that we discussed not too long ago is that Yeah, there's a couple of people that I think have been coming for 15 years have close to 15 years, that and some faces are really familiar. Some people have changed. And and there's definitely a younger generation, although I think it's, it's less of a group of young people than then I would hope so. There isn't. There's definitely less young people that seems to be I don't know, are they less interested in going to sessions after the working hours, I don't know. It's it's something that that strikes me that our audience also seems to be getting a little bit older. And there's not not a lot of influx, let's say, of younger people. Are they more going to meetups? I don't know, we don't do stuff via meetup, we typically do everything and still find our own website. So I'm not sure if that is really part of the issue, let's say But yeah, it's, I don't see a lot of fresh faces. I see fresh faces. But I would like to see more. And it's not always easy to figure out how you can reach those people. So but we're doing a couple of things. Together, also read Microsoft, but it's not easy to actually get people, you people.

 

Barry Luijbregts  10:45  

Yeah, to come to user groups. We saw the same thing with dotnet south, which was a user group in the Netherlands, we have and also a lot of all the people that attend there, and it was very hard to reach the younger crowd and we were at actually thinking that maybe that was because of the way we ran our social media, our marketing around the thing, because we ran it, we run the social media, like we want to see it as in via Twitter and email and LinkedIn. So basically the channels but those might be the channels that all the people might be on. Maybe we should be like on Snapchat or Facebook or whatever.

 

Gill Cleeren  11:24  

Tick tock tick tock. Yeah, yeah, like I said, it's it's it's difficult to do figure out how to reach young people and if you if you think about it, the other day, it was in a new city in Belgium that the government probably the the the Netherlands as well, where you live that the government is now also making advertisements on those channels, tik tok, and I don't know what else it was actually reach people to wear a mask on the street to reach that younger generation. So maybe that's India. Maybe we should hire some, some short social marketing expert or something that can help us be better because I'm not following tik tok and that sort of thing. I'm totally unaware of what is happening on this channel. So yeah, maybe we're getting old buddy. We're getting old man.

 

Barry Luijbregts  12:18  

Well, that's definitely true. But that that just means, you know, we just have to diversify and be more inclusive in because we kind of want to have people that are not like us in the organizations of these types of things, because they can think of stuff like Tick Tock or, or other social media channels or other ways to reach people that are not like us.

 

Gill Cleeren  12:38  

 Last year for the kurama in the Netherlands. We hired a social marketing expert and yeah, she indeed. Sure Of course, it's it's her profession then. She definitely has a lot of good ideas on reaching a different type of audience. It wasn't perfect. But it gave me also some insights in indeed what what are people looking at these days? Because like you say, We are always looking at the same thing. And we always reach the same bubble of people on your social media channels. And that is definitely also part of the problem, because you have to bring the information about something that you're organizing to the people that you want to reach. And that is definitely the part of the problem.

 

Barry Luijbregts  13:24  

I agree. Interesting. So take around what you were just talking about already, what is Techorama and who is it for?

 

Gill Cleeren  13:33  

So Techorama is a an international conference that so we have been running now here in Belgium for about a year for seven years now. So we started it in 2014. So it's, it was a bit of a crazy idea. So Microsoft has had been running Dec days here for many, many years, I think close to 20 years. So thinking started in 97 or so. And so, yeah, it was a long time event that they had been running. And so they said, Well, we are a lot of people at that point or real changing jobs within Microsoft. And so they said in 2013, so this is going to be the last big days that we are hurting here in Belgium. And so, at that point we, we set because we didn't and i and i also Kevin, we, we said yeah, we have been doing events for a long time had been running a local event community day, which also reached about five 600 people. Total one day free event, so we had experience already organizing things. And we said okay, let's let's try this. Let's see, because we we want to give something bigger than just a user group. So, tech days was the only event that people went to it was kind of big. There's also, I think, at its peak around 2000 people. So we started there's definitely an audience because there's nothing here in that magnitude in, in that area, even for developers, Microsoft oriented developers. And so we said, Yeah, we're going, we're going to jump in Techorama to start something new. And so that's how the kurama was born with a with a name generator that created first Dev, Rama. And then we said, Wow, that's a bit more inclusive, lets us bring everything in. So we because initially, it was only developers. So that's, that's how Techorama was born in. Summer of 2013. I think it was, that's when the initial ID was was planted. And so we had some discussions with a lot of people to see who wanted to put some money in because yeah, it was a bit of a risk. And was this going to work? So we started a new company for it. And we started may 2014. And above all expectations, we sold out the event in well before the event was taking place. So that was a smaller venue when we were doing it. I think we had six 600 people attending the first year, so we put a cap on it. And so yeah, we sold out and we were like, wow, this is going well. And we had an amazing support from from, from people here in the community.

 

A lot of people that that started helping out back then. Martin barrio Mike, there's a lot of people that that have been in the crew helping out all these years. also loved the event like like it was a baby. We had a lot of big name speakers in year one, including rich Campbell they joined I think Tim Huckabee joined the first years really a fantastic lineup for year one event. And also, a lot of the companies that were also already involved in the user group as partner also loved the idea of being able to reach a much bigger audience. And so yeah, starting year one, it was a huge success. And we ran it for three years in that same venue until we couldn't fit it anymore. I think we were last year was 1000 people. But that was way too much for for that small venue. So then we said, yeah, we need to move to a bigger venue. And so in the first three years, it was only developers. Audience because yeah, so Peter, Kevin, and myself. We're all in the developer space. So we we had contacts with speakers and that sort of thing. So we we knew what to do. I put on the agenda as well. And we also had help from from other crew members a lot for composing the agenda. But then again, you start with something. So I didn't know a lot of IT pro stuff. So I didn't want to include it in the agenda. So we said, Yeah, let's not do that. Let's stick to what we know. And so we did develop only. So the first three years it was deaf audience. And then in so when we moved to a bigger venue is that Yeah, so this is the this is also the time to bring back everything that the tech days was doing. So tech days had it pro audience had a data oriented audience had SharePoint. So we said, Yeah, let's widen our our horizons, and let's bring them all back in. So we talked to a lot of people from that community as well. And so they do, we're really happy that we could work on something together. And so then We jumped from 1000 to 1500 people in one day. It was at 7070. I think it was. Yeah. And so, last year, we had over 1800 people attending 150 sessions, about 100 speakers in Belgium, so it's a it's quite an organization. And then in 2017, that was, what is it? Is it 20? How can I forget? So 27, late 2017 I think it was already at that point we set out. We're going to take this to the Netherlands as well. And so then we announced that we were running it in October 2018. While there was still another conference running from Microsoft, so it might take days, but that then stopped and then tech Rama also came to the Netherlands and last year's 2019 rolls at 1200 60 people attending So with the same formula, yeah. So you've been there. So you also know, it's a lot of fun. And, yeah, we hope to run it again. Of course, again. But yeah, it's not reading this year, of course. Now I,

 

Barry Luijbregts  20:17  

I worked as a volunteer for the first Techorama Netherlands edition behind the scenes. And so I know kind of what is involved there in picking speakers and doing all this stuff. But it was a very successful first edition in a new country for you guys. So a new market, really, because you didn't know anybody there. What was your process to make sure that your conference would be a success in a new country?

 

Gill Cleeren  20:41  

Well, it's, uh, we always set and you were there as well, we set the first thing that we want to do is see if the community will support it. That also what we did in Belgium, we in Belgium, we actually only like I said, When When I got the idea of starting this thing, back in 2013, we sat together with a lot of people from the community that we knew. Sorry.

 

And so we said, who wants to be in on this? And when we decided we are going to the Netherlands, we said, well, we're greeted in islands, but only if the community, the local user group, the local meetups are willing to back this up and are willing to help out with this because it's not something you do on your own. I see a lot of conference that that actually have difficulties reaching people that have that don't have a good link with the local community. And I was like, Yeah, those people they know the audience. They can, they can reach that audience to let them know about the conference that is happening. And so that's what what has been our blend, blend, basically Not a real, not a good way to say even because we said we're only doing this if the community is willing to be involved. And like I said, you were there as well. So we, we did a big meeting with with all the local user groups. And we said, Yeah, are you guys in? Because? Or is this something that, that you also want to start supporting in a new country? Because it's doing it the way that you wanted? It's a financial risk for us as well. So we said, well, we're only doing this if the community is involved. And I think that is what that has helped a tremendous amount, because those are the people that basically say, well, this, this new thing is coming. And as a community, we are backing this up. And we also, from day one here in Belgium, too. We have always organized a kurama as a large community event, and i think i think that that's still that's still is feasible today. It is it is not a commercially run conference, there's no, we, we we have never been. We've never let let's say any agency be getting involved into how to organize an event. We've done this only with own experience. Of course, you learn how to run a conference. But it's been, it's been something that it still has that community spirit around it. And I think that also helps making it, giving it that that cozy feeling of a large, it's large, but it's still a community conference. And that's, I think, also what successes that we had, starting from day one in the Netherlands.

 

Barry Luijbregts  23:44  

Yeah, I think so too. And the clever thing with like you said is that you leverage the the audiences of the local user groups already. They have built in audiences and built in mailing lists, and followers and so you used to those To trust that the user groups put in your conference to get all the people to the conference, which worked very well.

 

Gill Cleeren  24:07  

Yeah, indeed. And, of course, having Scott Guthrie do the opening was definitely also helpful. But yeah, if no one knew that he was there, we don't have had. We had 2000 people on the first edition. And that is in a big part, thanks to the community.

 

Barry Luijbregts  24:27  

Yeah. So how do you get speakers? speakers like that as well, and other speakers?

 

Gill Cleeren  24:33  

I simply mailed him.

 

Yeah, the simple thing is, yeah, of course, I've been an MVP for 14 years, and a regional director. So I know a lot of people I do a lot of sessions at conferences myself. So in a normal year, I'm basically scouting at pretty much every conference that I go to. I'm scouting other speakers I attend sessions. I like to learn but I also am sitting in the audience thinking he would be he or she would be a fantastic speaker. So I sent them an email and or I go and have a chat with him. So I'm, I'm not the only one, a lot of people from the from the community also help out with the agenda. And I know they do the same. We have, we have an internal tool, where we just enter, let's say, a big dump of speakers that that we come across during the year. And we put them all together and then at some point, we we reach out to the speakers and we said, well, you want to come over and have a session. So yeah, it's a it's it's that blows of course, we have to open call for papers. So it's been a bit of a mess really. We We We are honest in that we don't do a full Blind Auditions of a blind call for papers, we invite speakers. And next to that we have an open call for speakers, which gives a tremendous amount of sessions and speakers that that we don't know. We we types to read all those golf papers. So the session submissions that are that are being sent in. The last one was was it more than 1000 sessions that were submitted? So that is a huge work. Of course, I don't do that all myself. It's a group of people that we have. And so we filtered through them, we we try to compose the best agenda based on we have a set of topics that we that we assign a number of sessions and that we try to fill up so we take the content based approach, not the speaker based approach so we tend to match speakers with content Rather than the opposite, but we got you by the number of speakers and then we have a huge pool that we can select from. And then that's how we, we we are lucky that we have an amazing pool of talent that we could can choose from. I know it's a bit of a luxury problem. And it's it's always bad day that I have to send out let's say 900 session refusals. Because some people are always disappointed and I can't I can't help it. But I would love to do 1000 sessions but yeah, that that's gonna be it's gonna be a TV conference, then I don't think people are going to be interested in that, sir. Yeah, it's a it's fantastic to see that you get so many so many people that are willing to fly from literally the other side of the world to to speak at your conference, that that's an amazing feeling. I'm always amazed that the weekend before The event that I know, okay, now people are flagging for pretty much every country in the world to take around. But that's an amazing feeling. That's, that's undescribable.

 

Barry Luijbregts  28:09  

Yeah, that is amazing. And people want to speak there, because it's just an amazing conference. And I think what also helps is that you usually organize it in a theater. So as a speaker, you get to speak in this big room where you have this enormous theater movie screen. And that's just an amazing speaker experience as well.

 

Gill Cleeren  28:28  

Yeah, you have the audio, you have the video, you are basically if you're writing code on that screen, you're literally smaller than just one character. So that's, that's, that's amazing. There's a lot of beat a speaker that actually use pictures from from Nicaragua as their profile picture where you have that huge screen behind you. Yeah, that is an amazing experience as a speaker but also as an attendee because you have good seats so you're not sitting on small chairs which are which are really, really close to each other. We have sitting comfortable seats sometimes too comfortable people fall asleep. That's that's a downside. But yeah, that happens. And you have good audio. You have a good video. Yeah, that that's, that's we're lucky that we have a venue that that supports that.

 

Barry Luijbregts  29:22  

Yeah, absolutely. Well, for this year, you probably also had booked a venue, of course, but then take around Belgium was cancelled in the Netherlands also cancelled, right? Because of it. Yeah. How do you deal with that? Like, for instance, with the venue, do you get your money back? Or did you pay? Did you did you not pay upfront? How does it work?

 

Gill Cleeren  29:44  

The good The good thing is it's a bit of an inside look. But the good thing is that the venue that we use, yeah, we've been going down for four years. So we know that we know those people really well. I think we can even call them friends, people. Have a venue also the people that are catering the AV crew. We work with them pretty much the entire year because it is not a one off.

 

The good thing is that we were able to

 

to cancel pretty early. Yeah, not bragging but we we already saw this thing coming in February. pretty early. We already because it's the agenda was finished. We were selling tickets. I think we sold 750 to 100 tickets by the time we canceled the conference. But we Yeah, it's it's Yeah, it's you start making expenses. That's true and you start making flight bookings. You don't want to have how much those flights cost to fly in all those beakers. But so January or February is typically the For the Belgian edition, at least the time that we booked speakers, sorry that we flies that we booked tickets for speakers. So, but because we were somehow expecting this, maybe we actually, yeah, we weren't afraid to do but then you booking, flight tickets reset. I think half of everything reset, we're gonna pause booking tickets and we had just booked like maybe five hours of them. So it's still a lot of money but it's not compared to what you typically spend on it. So we already post booking flights for speakers and we sit down with the venue, I said, well, we're not sure that this is going to happen. And we were pretty much the first ones to say, well, this might actually go the wrong way. So nothing actually was was already before the initial idea was actually moving conference over the summer in Belgium. So the original plan was doing it back to back with a grandma Netherlands so that we had flying in, flown in all the speakers anyway, that was the original plan. But that would then have been in a couple of weeks. So I think that's a good plan, either. So we in that view, we were extremely lucky that we were early. And that we had no costs, canceling anything apart from some flights. But yeah, that is as a company. We've been running this for a couple of years now that we can survive, otherwise, it would have been overnight. If this would happen a couple of weeks before the event. I've heard of other conferences, sadly, that that we're in a much worse position than we are. When we were were the way this whole thing Hit. And basically a couple of weeks before the conference, we were still three, four months away. So we were lucky that it hit at that point. And so yeah, in terms of cost, we've been able to get pretty much basically make no expenses. Oh, yeah. Lucky. We really? Yeah, that's really lucky. Because otherwise you can't survive this because you can't insure we have an insurance but they don't. By the time we actually wanted to put insurance in like, like we do every year for cancellation and stuff. It but it doesn't include pandemic sorry. So they already knew as well, so they already knew. Yeah.

 

Barry Luijbregts  33:46  

Yeah, you can't insure it against the end of the world, right. It just doesn't work

 

Gill Cleeren  33:50  

that you are insured against a lot of things. But yeah, our insurance our event insurance did not cover pandemics. So But anyway, so I don't think we would have gone on gone ahead and organize the things. Anyway. So yeah. So it. Like I said, we already sold several hundreds, I think it's between seven and 800 tickets. And so that was already a lot of work to get that all arranged. And we had, I think, already 35 companies partnering, so quite a few have, have actually a lot of people actually said, Well, I'm going to come next year, so just use this payment for next year. So it but it was a lot. Oh, that's nice. Yeah, that's nice. I looked at that a lot of people actually said, well, just just keep the money. For some companies. It's just simpler because it's already part of the budgeting anyway. So we offered people to say, well, you get a refund, if you want and so it was really, really deadly. So we did a refund by default, but if you said well, just just keep the money and give me my ticket for next year. At the Price. We we give them that option. And quite a few actually did that more than I expected. Really?

 

Barry Luijbregts  35:07  

Yeah. Very nice. Yeah. It's good to have partners like that.

 

Gill Cleeren  35:11  

Yeah, tickets as well. So both partners, and at least so there's quite a few people are registered for next year.

 

Barry Luijbregts  35:20  

People want to be here. And they want to this is a very popular conference, and it usually sells out if people are happy that's already ever ticket, of course. Yeah, indeed. So lots of these conferences and user groups are now doing virtual stuff. And I saw that you guys with the visa user group, you're also doing a virtual event, right? And that's an is that a day long virtual event that I see that correctly.

 

Gill Cleeren  35:46  

It's going to be a one day but it's so last year, it was the first time we we did the user group conference. It's a local conference. It's just with local speakers. Just isn't the correct word because they're also very good session. But so that was a, that was, I think, only An Evening with, I think, three texts, three or four text. Remember, now we're going to do that. So the plan was to actually already do it starting from from the afternoon and going into the evening as a full blown in person conference. But now we're going to do that in a virtual format. So it's also going to be indeed virtual, starting at 1pm. And then heading into the evening. So that's that's the plan. That's the plan.

 

Barry Luijbregts  36:39  

Well, and how can people attend something like that? I said, via zoom or something else?

 

Gill Cleeren  36:44  

Yeah, it's a it's a we are we've been evaluating for the user group, quite a few of those platforms, a lot of platforms. Now that that are making the off lottery the online how to find the online experience for attending a conference much more elaborate than than just watching a zoom video. So we decided on using conference to go fine. It's like it looks pretty, pretty cool. And it offers a lot of interesting things that try to mimic at least what you have in real life. So it's, it's not the, you never have the networking of all the experience that you'll have in a real life conference. But it does try to mimic a couple of things. And so we're going to try that with with the user group server. It's a it's an experiment. And so yeah, of course, the main the meat of the of the thing is, of course, still the sessions. There's going to be ways for people to, to connect to connected partners. So there's there's going to be virtual boots and that sort of thing. So yeah, it's I think The best we can do at this point, that's pretty that way. Yeah. for everyone.

 

Barry Luijbregts  38:05  

Well, but that's very good already. So as we are nearing the end of this episode, can you maybe tell us a bit about your course as well, because you have a Pluralsight course about starting a user group, right?

 

Gill Cleeren  38:20  

Yeah, indeed. It's funny that you mentioned because it's quite an old cause already. Things like five years old, but yeah, those things of course, they don't change. It's indeed a course that talks a bit about also personal experience on how to run a community. Things that you have to think of before you run a session, because even a small session, one off session needs to be organized. Well, what you have to think of finding a venue finding, find your speakers. Thinking of when you're organizing, the thing is that A big enough screen is a good audio because it's not a pleasant experience for people that they've been stuck in traffic for an hour. And to come to the to the session, and then be not be able to see it because it's a tiny screen, or your your so bad. So those are that that's all in that course. And it's things that I've basically been capturing, I'd say, over all these years that I've been doing this. And also small things, of course have. We always give a small example we always give the user or the speakers where we have a small gift we have, we've been giving out custom bottles of champagne that we had made for the user group or that sort of thing. So we always have been doing that and it's pleasant because it you don't have to. Like I said, we were lucky that we've been able to do that, thanks to partners that that help out. But it does give a little extra and that those are the things that are described in that course. Excellent.

 

Barry Luijbregts  40:07  

All right, I will include that course and also a link to the VISUG day in the show notes. And obviously, also a link to where people can find you or where people can find more of your Pluralsight courses as well. And thank you very much for for taking the time. And we will see you all next week for another episode of developer weekly. 

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