Last night I attended the "NY Web 2.0 Social Networking Tech Meetup". During the subway ride, and on the walk to the fairly obscure, but very cool, R Bar on Spring Street, I was all set and revved up for this gathering.
Once inside, I wandered past the long, open, and curiously empty front area of the bar. Then, I spotted a much smaller, but quite crowded (sardine-like packed) room of people. Yes! I quickly found my way to that space.
Then, I began listening to the presentations. As the representatives of said "Web 2.0" companies began their talks, I realized quickly that Dorothy (or Tracy in this story) was not in Kansas (a la Silicon Valley) anymore.
Here's the low-down:
* I'd be very safe in saying that very few (if any) actual Web 2.0 technologies were represented.
* The bar, no fault to them, had almost zero Wifi capabilities, which meant the presenters couldn't show us their sites online, nor could we see the technology in action.
* Many presentations were sales pitches. Blatant sales pitches.
* PowerPoint can be very bad. And it was an evening of not-so-great PowerPoint.
* Some, had not only no presentation but no web site.
* I was the only one taking digital pictures out of a crowd of 110+ I'd guestimate. Not only that, but I was followed out the door by Brett, the organizer (and a really nice guy, btw) who asked me if and why I was taking pictures. My response? "What the Web 2.0?! Let's have a chat about Flickr, blogs, and, um, Web 2.0."
Here is what I would recommend to this group:
--> Be better organized: give direction to the crowd, get us excited, and have a well-thought-out plan for the event. Also, during presentation time, wireless mics would be great, if possible.
--> Screen the presenters beforehand. Don't let just anyone present -- please. Just because they say they're Web 2.0 and viable, does not make them so. You'll lose your crowd (and credibility) before you know it.
--> If there has to be one rule, make it this: No PowerPoints! Or if there are PowerPoints, make them remarkable. I overheard several such comments from members of the audience: "PowerPoint?! What? I want to see how it works!"
--> Utlize the rest of the space which is allotted to you one Tuesday per month. (I was shocked to learn they have use of the entire place, every month, not just the back room!) Once the companies have presented (limit it to five), have them set up a station out in that big, open space where they can demo, people can easily find them, they can give away literature or swag, and most importantly, be able to breathe.
--> Get more sponsors, and have some of that funding go into: getting a better Wifi system for the R Bar; providing some finger food; maybe some cool prizes / giveaways that will get people talking about your sponsors, and you.
--> After they've presented, have a guest speaker (well known online journalist, blogger, CEO, investor) ask each company two to four very challenging questions about the companies' business, business model, customer experience, etc. This takes the place of a Q&A, and it makes the experience more interesting, and real.
--> No repeat performances. From what I can tell, many of the same presenters will be highlighted next month. Um, that doesn't work. Especially when most of them honestly don't fit into the Web. 2.0 category.
--> Come up with a better name :) I'm happy help you, but you should recruit help from the members, too.
Side note: this was only one event, and as a fairly new group I must say they are attracting quite a good crowd. And, Brett was sincerely interested in making them a better experience. Great.