Recruiting Speakers for Meetings
So we GTUG Managers, and of course all other UserGroup and Conference Organizers always face the Problem of finding interesting Speakers for our Meetings.
Here are a few solutions we found helpful for this Problem:
1) the Trap
In the breaks between talks, when talking to other members, they would start talking about some Google API or technology, and I asked them if they could do a short talk on that subject the next meeting.
They would invariably say „Well, I..“, to which I'd reply „Great! thanks!“ and joke a little bit that I kind of trapped them, but still hold them to it afterwards.
So I think that you really need to be face to face with the right person when soliciting a talk. Mailing out a general request makes it too simple to dodge it.
2) local Groups
Contact local Python, Ruby or Java User groups and invite them to speak on App Engine, which has a very large surface area. Also, you could contact intersting local companies which develop mobile software to do talks on Android (and emphasize that they will be promoting their company in front of potential hires while doing so).
Note: be careful with companies that have an own product. Tell them to send Developers, not Marketing Drones. Otherwise you'll have an hour of talking about how awesome their product is and when it comes to questions you will have a lot of „i dont knows“ which really pisses of Developers.
Make sure you find people that are passionate about what they do. Im sure there are more than enough Devs of OpenSource Software in your area you can ask to come. Maybe, as the GTUG Leader Ukraine mentioned, take people that developed Alternatives to Google Techs.
One trick is to simply reward speakers with some goodies from Google like T-shirts or pens. Keep it reserved for speakers: you have to earn them! And thus gain some „street cred“ in the group.
Another little trick is to try to have a very relaxed, informal, fun and friendly atmosphere during the meetings, like saying „I don't know“ often, even pretending ignorance, and then to look around for help: people will volunteer to fill in the void. First with answers, then with more questions, then more answers and suddenly a mini-presentation happened with a bunch of people involved. The guys who know something have been smoked out and it's now psychologically a very short step for somebody to volunteer for a full presentation.
Note: Emphasize that it doesn't have to be a very well prepared presentation, at least not in the „polished“ sense, try to minimize the work future speakers think they will have to do (with the prospect of standing up in front of their peers and be judged, they will do it anyway). or me in Quebec City, what I did is reach out directly to someone saying they used an API. They often object they are not the right person, etc… I reassure them that having an authentic presentation of their personal use is often more interesting. Then the presentation turn into conversations, since some of the attendees do know more than the presenter, but everybody learns that way. The essence is make it as easy as possible to present in the beginning at least.
Dev enthusiasts who want to get a bit of personal promo Devs from local web startups students who wrote their theses or other good work on google tech our friends and us power contributors from our forums international v.i.p.'s and developer advocates - again, check your local office In general, getting speakers is one of the core parts of the managers work. The better your gtug is known locally, the greater chance people will do the job in exchange for the „promo“. It also takes a lot of networking. Make sure you or someone in your team is good at it and has contacts.