I sometimes have the problem of not being able to find a speaker for my meetup, so I have to improvise. Let’s share some of what you’ve done in your meetups that have worked (and what haven’t) when you can’t find a speaker!
For my most recent meetup, I decided to play tester’s games. I got a copy of Set and couldn’t find my D&D dice, so I decided to get a giant bag of emoji erasers figuring it would work too. Thankfully one of the attendees brought her dice!
We had 10 or so folks show up, and split into 2 groups - one playing with Set and the other playing the dice game. It was awesome! Everyone stayed engaged and said they learnt a lot and had fun. It’s definitely something I’d do again!
For another session we used TestSphere cards - we had folks take a card at random and then they start a conversation using the card as inspiration. Drawing from their own experience, or how they would handle that situation if it came up in the future. It was great, engaging conversation and newer testers felt included in the conversations. Great fun!
Yeah, we tend to fall back onto open LeanCoffee sessions. MOT recently released these as activities too: https://dojo.ministryoftesting.com/series/testbash-circus-activities
We had 99 second talks at one of the NI Testers meetups but with a twist, each speaker had 99 seconds to speak and the audience had 99 seconds to answer. We added another bit of a twist, lean coffee style. If the audience were interested in the speaker having another 99 seconds for questions they raised their hands.
It sounds like a short time frame but with 10 speakers I think the meetup went on for almost 2 hours! It was a great way for people who regularly attend the meetup to get a feel for if they might have talk material or want to take to the stage for a longer session in the future at the meetup.
I know the problem! Thanks for bringing it up. I do a monthly evening Meetup in Cambridge (see a look back on 2017), and was struggling with this a lot, especially in the beginning, where I had to come up with about six topics each year myself due to lack of speakers, but still wanted to have variety and keep it diverse and interesting for attendees. Here’s some of the things I’ve done:
- Testing Heuristics: where I gave a quick intro into a few Heuristics, and then let people form small groups and apply the Heuristic in action to generate test ideas. We were testing beer glasses, kitchen schematics etc. on the spot. And debriefed after. Quite fun! You can find my intro slides and a blogpost on this evening.
- Improve and Discussion Exercises for Testers: similar, I gave a quick intro and then we split in groups and tried the exercises (e.g. Six Thinking Hats, Telling a Story, Yes, And …) in action. My intro slides
- Show and Tell: As the title suggests, we get together and discuss in the group (split into subgroups if too many attendees). I ask the attendees to come and share (show and tell) something related to testing. This works better if you have a specific topic, e.g. one topic last year was “What you can’t do without”, and that went really well, everybody had something different to share on this. Blogpost about the evening .
- Testing Games : As already mentioned, this is a fun one. I’ve written about the Games I’ve been using and why, which I share with attendees: Testing Games
- Testing Puzzles: A bit more structured and directed then the Testing Games one, this was more of a an interactive hands-on session where I’ve set up a couple puzzles and exercises to solve, some to tackle in small groups and some on your own, all with debriefs in the end to share things learned and strategies applied. More info on my blog: Testing Puzzles
- I also done an occasional “Drinks & Socialize” Meetup, usually the one in December before Christmas, where we really just meet in a Pub and chat; and as others mentioned, Lean Coffee or TestSphere are good fallbacks as well.
Great suggestions, thanks for sharing and blogging about it!