Sitecore User Groups have been a commonly used way of offline knowledge sharing and socializing for long years and we all love them. However, there are some drawbacks and things that in my opinion could be improved.
As we know, there are many participants willing to present, but typically in most cases, one presentation is taken by people from a sponsor, yet one more - by Sitecore employees and whatever remains - by some MVP, while there are only 3, maximum 4 speeches available. Those lucky who manage to get presented have to artificially adjust to ~40 minutes format extending their speech time frames, while in fact the core sense of most presentations can be fit into 15 minutes. In addition, user groups are rare events, occurring once per quarter.
Another thing is that attendants are socializing only a little time during breaks between the presentations, while there are plenty of people attending just because of networking. At the same time, some of the attendees are "switched off". The solution would be making user groups more interactive with participants interacting with each other apart from just socializing. Limiting presentations with shorter time frames will allow speakers to better structure their thoughts and allocate time for a bigger number of people to participate.
To address these calls, we have introduced the events of a new format, called Sitecore Discussion Clubs, running in London regularly in parallel to existing Sitecore User Groups, not as a replacement. The below explains what it is
What is Discussion Club
Sitecore Discussion Club will be held on a monthly basis and consists of two blocks
1. Lightning Talks
Each of the participants can present anything of his / her recent experience or some interesting aspects of work with Sitecore, that may be useful and interesting to the community. We currently tend to limit these talks to 10 minutes, having up to 10 talks during the event. It serves as a sort of warmup before the major part - Discussion Club. Speech registration opens 48 hours before the event via Discussion Club website, with 10 slots open (first come - first spoken principle), where new participants have priority as they are obliged to present. Every new member of the club must present on the first visit to the club, and if done in a nice and useful manner, that speech actually "opens" (or initiates) the membership upon the vote decision by organizers.
2. Discussion Club
This is the most important part of the event. Each of participants may suggest a problem they currently have for a collective-mindset to challenge, but it's not limited to day-to-day issues. One would probably like to discuss new Sitecore features or whatsoever if it is interesting to other members to discuss (ex. "can someone please tell in which cases SXA is perfect for greenfield projects and how do I 'sell' it to my client?" etc.). All suggestions are registered at the website, and upon the beginning when the organizer goes along this list - each one has 30 -60 seconds to briefly explain the problem and what is he looking from the discussion to get solved. once finished, every participant votes for topics that seem to be interesting (that is done using a mobile phone). Then actual discussions start, from most to least voted suggestions on from agenda list. Each discussion limits to 10 minutes, there is also a mechanism of 5 minutes extension
Discussion Club unites the most enthusiastic members of the Sitecore scene from London and the area, offering them all to share the experience. Unlike the User Groups, we discuss real-life scenarios, and actual day-to-day problems, as we vote for the most preferred topic from agenda. We are more engaged, communicate and discuss directly and collectively. All that enables us sharing our experience in an interactive, friendly manner at an unprecedented level, which becomes sort of Sitecore Community 2.0
Sitecore Discussion Club is found, run and sponsored by a group of enthusiasts. Would you have any enquires, please feel free to contact us: