Some of you may know that I organise a little meetup called Talk.CSS, Singapore’s only CSS-centric meetup, with Chris Lienert. As we are coming up to 3 years this November, our third birthday will also, sadly, be Chris’s farewell as he moves home to Australia. Starting Talk.CSS with Chris has been incredibly fun and rewarding, largely because we never took ourselves too seriously. 😱
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t take effort. To date, we have yet to cancel a meetup or miss a month. A large reason for this is because there are 2 of us, so whenever 1 of us can’t make it, the other can pick up the slack. So am I slightly worried how we will continue the streak with Chris gone? Yes. But we’ll see how things work out.
If you're wondering about the word “anyhowly”, it is the adverb “anyhow” with an additional “ly” appended for emphasis. This is perfectly acceptable Singlish.
Before the doors open
There are 2 critical components to a meetup: speakers and venue.
Scouting for a venue
Usually, I will start scouting for venues a month before. Talk.CSS does a revolving venue format, so we try to contact different potential hosts every time.
Scouting for venues involves consulting the Engineers.SG events for locations of other meetups and getting in touch with the relevant hosts. Or asking on KopiJS. Getting in touch is almost always via email, with some standard information that hosts usually require:
Talk.CSS is a monthly tech meet-up about CSS (and web design).
We list the event as starting at 7pm, while talks begin proper at 730pm. Everything wraps up by 9pm or so.
The turnout is usually 30-40 people.
Our website is https://singaporecss.github.io.
We also have some social media on Twitter (@SingaporeCSS) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SingaporeCSS).
Most of our community announcements happen on Facebook, as well as in the KopiJS slack channel and meetup.com (https://www.meetup.com/SingaporeCSS/)
A month lead-time is usually enough, but sometimes we get hosts who cancel on us fairly last minute, so then it becomes a mad scramble to find a replacement venue. If you’ve organised a meetup before, you probably can relate. 😌
This is particularly challenging because, in my experience, developers in Singapore are not exactly clamouring to do public speaking. As a last resort, both Chris and I have topics that we can pull out of our back pocket to tide things over.
But generally, getting speakers for Talk.CSS involves me “persuading” friends or even random people I just met at other meetups to talk about anything remotely related to CSS. And I’m incredibly grateful I still have friends left. 🤷
Sometimes people get in touch with Chris or myself and volunteer to speak. If this happens, I do a happy dance and throw an emoji party in Slack with Chris. Because we have a website (that is regularly updated), I will ask the speaker for their talk title, short description, a headshot, a one-liner bio and any social media links.
If any information is missing, I will make stuff up or write some nonsensical placeholder like, John Doe is pondering the meaning of his life before he can write his bio.. Of course, I give the speaker a heads up that if they do not provide the information in time, it’ll be my creative writing for their profile on the website. 😈
Other things on the to-do list
Because the Singapore tech community is blessed to have an organisation like Engineers.SG who records almost every tech meetup in Singapore, I’ll input the event into the spreadsheet to give the team a heads up that our meetup is happening and we’d like someone to come record.
I’ll also make sure to create the event on Meetup.com and update the website accordingly with venue information, talks and speakers. The SingaporeCSS website is built on Jekyll and I’ve reworked it a bit over the years to be more template-ised to make my life easier.
The introductory slides for the meetup, built entirely with HTML and CSS, need to be updated with the host of the month, CSS colour of the month, and any ad-hoc announcement requests we may have. I also do a segment called HTML and CSS news of the month, so that needs to be prepared as well.
In a bid to encourage people to show up, I will start writing random social media posts 2 weeks before on Facebook, Twitter and Slack. Mileage has varied so I have no advice on this. 🐒
On the day
Over the past 33 meetups, for the times that our hosts did not provide food, Chris has stepped up and sponsored dinner for many a meetup. Chris’s amazing wife, Sarah, has also contributed an incredible array of confectioneries and baked goods over the years. Sarah, we don’t deserve you.
Either Chris or myself will show up at the venue around 630pm. Doors open at 7pm and we start talks around 730pm. Usually things wrap up around 830pm. The unique thing about Talk.CSS is that our audience don’t eat a lot. I think we are one of the rare tech meetups where there is food left over and we have to beg people to eat or take food home.
It’s critical that we thank the people who host us and whomever showed up from Engineers.SG to record us. And also everyone who shows up, especially the regulars, because there is no meetup without an audience, right?
After the day
I’ll usually do a recap once the Engineers.SG recordings are out. And this is almost always a less than 24-hour turnaround time, because they are a world-class team of volunteers. The recap involves a brief description how the evening went, adding the talk graphics, and updating the relevant data files (for links to videos etc).
Then, rinse and repeat and do it all over again for the next month.
When I was at JuniorDevSG last night, Michael Cheng mentioned that organising meetups is often a thankless job. I guess this is because most people who haven’t organised one themselves don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.
Most of the time we organise meetups because we feel like it, and want to build a community, however small, of people who are excited about whatever the meetup is about. So anybody who wants to pitch in and help out is always greatly appreciated. 🙏
If anybody is based in Singapore and feels like helping out with Talk.CSS (or any other of the local meetups), get in touch! ❤️