Running events as a Community Manager, Leader or Amplifier is a privilege.
Events are an important part of any healthy community. They are rewarding, surprising, and enlightening.
Events bring the community together to start conversations. Events build relationships. Events contribute to a sense of belonging. Yet how do you know how rewarding an event will be? What if you have a tonne of event ideas and a finite amount of time and energy to give — how do you know which ideas to run with?
The goal of the Event Idea Experiment Template (EIET) is to help you and your team explore what's possible, establish clear experiments, and see how they turn out. It typically works for small-scale events, the sort you could run every week or month. However, the exploration approach still works for less frequent, medium to large-scale, events.
Generate event ideas without bias or assessment
Timebox a session to generate ideas for community events. Anything goes, no need to assess viability at this stage, that's what the template is for. Turning ideas into actual experiments and picking one or two comes later.
I use a Miro board to easily add stickies - yet you could use anything to write down less than a one-liner to capture your idea at a high level. And ideally, you do this with others to help trigger ideas off each other. Timeboxed individual idea generation gives people space to explore in their own time. Then when everyone shares/reveals their ideas you'll have an opportunity to add more as a group. Great to satisfy those who prefer solo idea generation with those who need others to explore and generate ideas.
How to use the Event Idea Experiment Template
Grab one sticky from your idea generation session, something you're curious about. Now is time to think about it in more detail and write up those details. You don't need tonnes of detail, just enough to socialise it with your team and help you decide which experiment/s to run first. It just has to be good enough. You might like to refer to it as a "one-pager".
Repeat this process with however many event ideas you like and you'll soon build up enough of a catalogue of one-pager event ideas to choose from. You can come back to them later based on what you learn from your first experiment. Find a balance. Start by creating detail for six event ideas – that's probably enough for now.
The Event Idea Experiment Template
Title – Give your event idea a name. Something catchy could make it more appealing.
Problem statement to address – Write out a problem as if you’re the person saying it. Use empathy to step into the shoes of a certain part of the community.
What – Describe your event idea without any details of how it’ll work. Don’t mention tools yet.
Why – Why is this event idea helpful? How does it address the problem statement? How does it help the community have useful conversations? How well does it align with the goals of the community?
How – Number bullet point the steps of how you imagine the event will actually work. Mention tools.
Where – Describe where the event will typically take place.
When – Describe how often the event will take place. Include day, time and frequency.
Who – Who is this event for? How specific can you get with who would find this event valuable? Refer to the problem statement again.
Orbit Level to target – If you use Orbit, specify which Orbit Level the event is focused on. It could be for more than one level.
Tooling Options – Mention any tool you think would help run/facilitate the event and/or support it. Provide links to the tools.
Pro or Open to All – If your community has a Pro option make it explicit if it’s only for them or open to everyone.
Cost – Roughly calculate the cost to organise and host. Provide an estimate.
Assumption – Write out a statement that you believe to be true. What do you assume will happen with this event?
Experiment – Specify at least one experiment idea that aims to prove or disprove the assumption. How will you test the assumption?
Measure – Bullet capture how you will test the success of the experiment. How will you measure the impact of the event? What things do you want to see happen and change before, during and after the event?
Outcome – Leave blank and fill in after you’ve run your first experiment. What did you observe? Compare that against your measure. What happens next? How long should you continue to run the experiment with this new information?
Size – Use a simple small, medium or large to help gauge size based on the number of potential attendees and effort to put together and run.
Estimated effort to get live – Provide an indication of the number of days effort to get this event up and running.
Actual effort to get live (approx) – Post-event, capture an approximation of effort put in to get it live.
Alternative ideas inspired by this one-pager – What other ideas come to mind based on what you've just captured? What else might you do? Could you try a different “how” and “what” and experiment with something different?
Examples of Event Idea Experiment One-Pagers
Move to community-led events
If the community is to grow beyond all that you "manage", it's going to have to embrace autonomous events. Aim to go through these three stages.
Lead-by-example: You set up and facilitate the event, inviting community members to attend and participate.
Co-create: You and at least one other person from the community organise and facilitate an event. With emphasis placed on co-creation.
Community-led autonomous events: You establish the platform, steps and approach for any community member to run the event with minimal if any, support.
Share your thoughts
Did you try the template, what happened? Curious yet unsure? Have thoughts or ideas to share? Reply to the following tweet.