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- Schedule time to write and publish the report within 48 hours of the event. Block time on your calendar so it happens.
- Along with your text about what you found most useful about the event, include photos and video or audio recordings, preferably embedded in the post. Linking to these resources is also OK.
- Include important stats in your post that are relevant to the community attending the event, e.g. number of attendees, number of student attendees, number of committers, etc.
- Make sure to thank the event organizers and sponsors in an appropriate fashion.
- Once your post is published, make sure to share it via whatever social media channels you like to use. If you do not use social media, let the event organizers know about your post in case they’d like to use it in the post-event report outs or to add it to their event news page.
Schedule Time to Write the Report
A post-event wrap up report is most useful within days of the event, and it’s best if you can publish your piece within 48 hours of the event’s conclusion. A wrap up report should be published no more than two weeks after the event. At two weeks out, the news is a bit stale so do your best to aim for 48 hours after the event, with a week or less time being OK but not optimal. Schedule time on your calendar for writing, as it’s easy for this task to be deprioritized in the face of other needed work. Set aside time for writing or you’ll likely find you don’t get the writing done.
Take Good Notes
Writing up a great event wrap up report means gathering data while at the event. Take the time to write down a few notes about things that particularly impressed you during the conference or meet up. Don’t rely on your memory to keep track of the things that stood out to you, and write down as many take aways from the event as possible. You will not use all of your notes, but the more detail you can later provide, the better.
Of course, you want to ensure that you have permission to take photos at the event. Confirm with the organizers if there’s a photography policy and abide by it. Some FLOSS folks request that all photos taken during their events be published under a Creative Commons license, others forbid photos at their events entirely, others request that attendees make use of photographs taken by the conference photographer. Whatever the organizers request of you, honor those requests. Abiding by the conference photo policy makes it much easier to ask for an exception later should you need to do so, e.g. “I notice this photo is copyright $EVENT, may I use it in my forthcoming blog post provided I give proper attribution?”
Being a good FLOSS citizen also means obtaining permission from the subjects of your photos to capture their image. Some conferences provide pins or other garb to attendees who do not wish to be photographed – keep an eye out for these indicators. If you don’t see one, politely ask to take a photo of your fellow attendees and let them know you may use it on your blog or publish it on Flickr, etc.. If they decline, respect their request. It is also best practice to let folks take a look of the photo you have taken to make sure they are happy with their appearance in it, but this step is not required. It definitely helps build good rapport with your fellow community members, so why not do it?
In general, group photos that do not show faces in the audience are well received even in those communities that are “camera shy.” Get a good sense for your audience and photograph accordingly.
Session Audio and Video
If session(s) from the event are recorded, it is always good practice to at least link to those talk recordings. For a meet up or other event where only one talk was recorded, embed the recording in your post. For events where multiple sessions took place, choose your top N (3 maximum) and embed those recordings. Make sure that you introduce the recordings with sufficient text – which can be quite terse, but must be present – so that your readers understand why they ought to take the time to watch the content.
Know How to Tag Your Post and Photos
Most event organizers these days are pretty good about letting folks know what tag(s) to use when sharing photos, dents/Tweets, Facebook messages and blog posts. Make sure to note the tag(s) used and add to your photos and post.
Gather Other Materials Needed
Perhaps you saw an outstanding network diagram in a particular presenter’s talk or you noticed that a speaker did not plan to publish her slides. It’s best to ask the speaker at the event for these resources, then follow up on your request by email. If you were not able to make the request in person, make sure to send your request by email quickly so you can include the materials in your post and get the post published in a timely fashion.
You will also likely find that other folks have written about the event and may have done write ups on sessions you missed. They also may have an alternate perspective on an aspect of the event you particularly enjoyed. Include links to other write ups and reports in the blog post – even a simple list of links is fine – and consider updating your post if you run across a particularly excellent write up of the event after you’ve published your report. Updating the blog post comments with additional details is a fine way to proceed, but folks are often less likely to read the comments section.
Publishing Your Post-Event Report
This document largely assumes that you’ll be publishing your event wrap up post on your personal blog, but there are many outlets for such reports. The conference organizers may need help with wrap up reports due to post-event fatigue, so offering to help them with your post-event write up can be a welcome way for your post to get even wider exposure and to do a good deed for the community. The fine folks at opensource.com also publish post-event reports, so check out their guidelines to submit content. You may also find that your wrap up report will be useful to other trade press outlets or blogs, so licensing your content so that folks can (re)use it increases the value of your creation. You may even find that said trade press outlet or blog would like to simply republish your post, which is a great thing to do if you’re open to it.Pro-Tip: Schedule time no more than 24 hours after the event to both write and publish your wrap up report. The fresher the news, the more readers you’ll have.
Most post-event wrap up reports include the following items, so take notes accordingly. You may not use all of these details, but it is good to have them.
Thanking event sponsors, particularly one’s own employer, can be difficult to do without looking disingenuous. The most important thing to remember is to disclose your relationship with your employer in the blog post to avoid accusations that you’re shilling. Consider the difference between these two thanks, both of which say basically the same thing, but will likely be received by your audience very differently:
Capture or use the highest possible quality imagery. Suboptimal photos from your cell phone camera are better than no photos at all, but not by much. If you don’t have a high quality camera, check the conference’s photo pool for imagery that may be better or ask a colleague to snap a pic or two on your behalf. Ensure whatever content you use is licensed so that you may use it or that you obtain permission from the copyright holder to make use of it.
Some videos feature automatic closed captioning for the hearing impaired and still others provide text transcripts of the audio/video recording. When versions of the content exist that provide these extra vectors of entry for your audience, ensure that you embed them or link to them.
If the hashtag for the event isn’t prominently mentioned in the event guide or at the start of the meet up, don’t hesitate to ask the question at the start of the festivities. You’re not the only one wondering what tag(s) to use. If it’s too difficult to ask this question up front, see if the event already has a photo pool or Tweet stream. Replicate the tags in use for the conference tweet stream or photo pool.
Consider using some sort of social bookmarking service to gather news and feedback from the event. It’s possible that the event organizers have already set something up, so ask them if they have done so. If not, offering to set up the resource for them is a kind and wonderful thing to do when you’re at an event run by community volunteers.
Before publishing your report, take a moment to search identi.ca and Twitter using the event hashtag. This quick search will likely produce other write ups that you may wish to link to in your own post. The conference news aggregator or press page is also an excellent source of such material.
If you are having trouble writing and outlines are not the best way to organize your thoughts, try these approaches:
- Just write. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or even coherent at first. Structure, proper grammar, correct spelling, etc. can be taken care of later.
- Consider writing down the ten second pitch for the event and then writing to address the high points that support that summary.
- Talk about your experience at the event with a friend or colleague and ask them to jot down notes during your conversation. Let their notes become your outline. Alternatively, you may wish to use transcription software for this purpose.
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