Thinking Meetup?

So the next #BhamTesterMeetup – 29th March – is starting to shape up. We have an offer of a new, more user friendly (if slightly corporate looking) venue, and a speaker. I am also very grateful that the kind folk at TekSystems have offered to buy some drinks again. Thanks TekSystems!

One of my overarching goals for the Meetup is for it to become much more interactive. I’m not really a big fan of the listen to someone else speak for n-minutes with a Q&A section at the end approach; though on the face of  things it has worked quite well so far (thanks to NFocus, Adam Knight, James Bach & yours truly). I’d much rather the sessions were more of a dialogue or debate even.  I spoke to Bill Matthews about the problems I experience[d] organising meetups some time ago and, having been involved in some similar events himself, had a few ideas on how to make things more interactive:

The Goldfish Bowl Panel – an initial panel of e.g. 4 people to kick a discussion off and, if someone from the audience wants to join in the discussion, they have to swap places with one of the panel members before they can do so. And so on.

Or –

Tester Speed Dating – one-on-one discussions for set, short amounts of time then everybody changes places by rotating, or similar.

Both of these ideas seem pretty good. Then by chance, I happened upon this discussion on the Software Testing Club forum, and was mightily intrigued by Michael Bolton and James Lyndsay’s comments. The idea of a LAWST or LEWT model seems to embody the spirit of what I’m looking for, though – I don’t think we need to be quite as formal [at this stage, anyway]. My approach in a nutshell (and paraphrasing Michael’s comments) would be:

– A small-ish group of people [8-24] – this is about normal (bordering on low) turnout for a Meetup at present, though numbers fluctuate a bit.

– Present “experience reports” – we all have those, right?

– Take questions and comments from the group – shouldn’t be too much of an issue either…

– Publish the results – we’ll see what can be done about this. Video recording the reports and subsequent dialogue is certainly an option.

So I’m proposing that this is the format that will be followed for future events. You the participant/attendee bring with you your experiences of a test project, to share with the group. You will then get questions and feedback about your approach. Having engaged with this process you will go away with the following:

Insight – into your own strengths and weaknesses as a tester.

Suggestions – how to improve your approach, skillset, tools, thinking etc.

Improved – communication/presentation and testing skills.

And hopefully many more benefits besides.

So what do you think? Are you prepared to step-up and get involved? As mentioned earlier, we already have a speaker lined up for the next event anyway, so really I’m only looking for one or two experience reports to get the ball rolling and give people an idea of how things can be done. If nobody else volunteers, I’ve got some experiences from a recent performance test project I can share about – but would rather get other people up and involved if possible.

Over to you, Brummie testers (and beyond). What are your thoughts?

- Simon

P.S If you're interested in learning more about performance testing, checkout my Performance Testing 101 course here.


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