Organizing Online Summits: Five Mistakes to Avoid

Hello Medium!

Ed from Geekle here.

Geekle team working on Global NodeJS Summit, May 2020

We are building a worldwide community of developers, and organize global tech Summits. We’ve already organized 6 online Summits in 8 months, with a total of 50,000+ people registered.

In the events industry, people are so used to knowing each other in person. Global online events gather thousands of people, and therefore feel very impersonal. Thus, communication is key, in every step.

Now, there were several mistakes that we made in the organization of our events. We admitted to them, apologized to those we wronged, and changed our internal procedures not to make them again.

Take a look at our mistakes, to save yourself from doing the same!

Backstage of events

Mistake 1: Lack of communication of our values

DO NOT forget to communicate who you are.

We were fast in organization and loud about the events themselves, but forgot to share the deeper motivation and meaning behind it all.

DO communicate your true mission and your values to the audience, through everything you do.

For us, our mission is to create a space where every developer in the world can grow professionally, by having easy access to the latest tech knowledge, and community support. We do this because we want to help the world technologically advance faster, and for people to have a higher quality of life.

And why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you organizing your online event?

Mistake 2: Losing touch with people

DO NOT lose touch with people you’re talking to.

Several people on our team reached out to the same person, thus unnecessarily distracting them, and getting accused of aggressive outreach. And then, we got lost in all the messaging and emailing and forgot to reply to a person, thus losing them.

DO monitor everyone you’re speaking to via a CRM system, whether it’s a Google Spreadsheet, or an advanced CRM software. Have transparent and easy communication within the organization team, so that no information gets lost.

Our Senior community manager Nikita is convinced that language is important

Mistake 3: Lost in translation

DO NOT get lost in English as a second language.

Our team is international and lives all over the world. Even though everyone on our team is fluent in English, some cultural differences still slip in occasionally. This led to several miscommunications between our team and our speakers.

DO pay attention to your language and the cultural differences. If you don’t have native speakers on the team, find someone to proofread the important communication before you send it out.

Mistake 4: Lack of diversity

DO NOT forget to pay attention to the list of speakers and attendees you have, in terms of their diversity.

DO make sure that you have representation; of genders, nationalities, religions, abilities, ages, anything.

Geekle team at the Java Global Summit backstage, August 2020

Mistake 5: Misuse of the brand guidelines

DO NOT put companies’ logos on your event website before making sure you can do so.

We were so excited about getting our first yes’s from top speakers, that we rushed into putting logos of their companies on the landing page of the event. For the purposes of our event branding, we changed the colors of some logos into white. It turned out, that was not allowed by the branding guidelines of some companies. We changed them back to the original logo colors, and apologized to the companies.

DO find out if you can through researching the brand guidelines or getting in touch with the company itself. This includes logos, colors, photos, names, job titles, everything.

Bonus point: when things go wrong

Taking care of each other, even when things don’t go as we planned

What if things go wrong? What if a speaker doesn’t show up? What if our connection breaks?

DO NOT panic. Stressing yourself and your team out is just not helpful.

DO stay calm and think of the solution first. Take most care of each other. And after the event, celebrate: both the success, and the mistakes you make.

We learned our lessons, and now implemented new procedures in our work. We hope they will be helpful to you too.

Geekle founder and CEO