Attending your first tech conference can be scary, even when you're not an absolute beginner! A well-placed booth will give the workshop participants a "home base", where they can return to if they feel lost. Having a booth also gives a chance for the participants (new graduates!) to act as subject matter experts, as conference attendees tend to walk up and ask questions.
Some tips and suggestions for a successful booth:
- The booth should be operated by at least 1 coach/organizer and 1-2 participants, so that attendees can learn about the different perspectives of the project. The easiest way to set this up is to create a Doodle with timeslots for each "shift", and ask participants to "vote" for the times that they can attend.
- Write down and pay special attention to all the peak times at the booth, such as lunch, coffee breaks, breakfast, and make sure that the core organizers are present during those times.
- Make sure that the conference provides you with at least 1-2 power adapters/extension cords, as conferences do not always provide these! Optional: Arrange for a computer monitor where you can run a slideshow of previous Django Girls workshop photos, demo the tutorial in action, etc.
Decorations for the booth are up to you and are super-important to drive traffic to your booth! Here are some options/suggestions based on past DG booths:
- Printed tablecloths
- LED lightstrips (that you can control with a Raspberry Pi!)
- Brown packing paper + white/black/gold markers and someone with nice handwriting
- Gold balloons
- Flowers in pots, or if you can't get pots, use old cans + gold spray paint!
- Workshop poster with the sponsor logos (you can just move the posters that you printed for the workshop and hang them on the walls or on boards).
- When you order swag for the workshop, choose a few key cheap items (like pens, buttons, or stickers) and order double/triple/etc so that you have enough to give away at the conference.
- More expensive items such as tote bags or shirts can be sold at the booth for donations. Make sure to get a tip jar for cash, and also some form of online payment such as bigcartel.com or tictail.com, for people who want to pay with their credit cards.
- Print little cards/flyers with links to the organizer manual, coaching manual, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, to give out to people who want to organize or coach future workshops.
- If you're planning to sell swag, you can use mini-blackboard signs to highlight the price.
- Make sure you have a plan for what to do with cash income from swag. If the conference organizers can help store it for you or deposit it in the conference account and then transfer it to the DG account, it'll reduce stress of wandering around with wads of money!
- Try to think of a useful way to utilize the funds from swag sales. For example, if you're planning a follow-up workshop, you can keep the funds for that, or you can help out another workshop that's running into sponsorship trouble. You can also send some of those funds to Django Girls Foundation to help us fund more Workshop Boxes.
- Try to have someone on social media duty at the booth, and post lots of pictures! If people are tweeting from their personal accounts, try to have them tag the workshop account.
- Memorize/prepare a 30 sec - 1 min elevator pitch about Django Girls, as you'll have lots of people asking about what we do and most of the booth time will be spent on these types of introductions.
- Try to suggest some beginner-friendly talks which might appeal to attendees. Some people will already have some technical knowledge and be just fine - complete beginners may feel out of their depth with the more technical talks so it is good to provide some guidance. Talks with "softer" topics are often good targets for this. Some conferences will clearly label the level at which a talk is aimed, for others you may need to contact organisers for advice.
- Do not leave the booth unattended! Depending on the conference, you might be able to leave basic swag overnight, but anything that is worth money like swag for sale, monitors, and tip jar (with money of course) must be either watched by someone at the booth or taken with you when you leave.
- Don't waste money on foody swag, and don't be tempted to give away shirts or bags. Unlike the big corporations, we are operating independently and on a donation basis, and conferences provide enough food to all attendees that we don't need to supplement it!
- Don't let people leave their bags, jackets, or laptops in the booth unless they are on shift and can fit their items under the table or somewhere hidden. You might end up with a closet more than a booth!
- Keep the table tidy! Cups, cans, bottles, unfinished food... They look a mess and clutter the table.