Weekend Scripter: Starting a PowerShell Saturday

Doctor Scripto

Summary: The Scripting Wife talks about starting a Windows PowerShell Saturday event where you live, what’s involved, and how to get help.

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. Today we have a special blog written by none other than the Scripting Wife. Take it away Teresa…

A member of the Windows PowerShell community recently asked me, “How do we get a Windows PowerShell Saturday in city XYZ?” This question was especially important because this particular city does not yet have a Windows PowerShell User Group, or even a Windows PowerShell MVP to help to start the user group. We love to help. There is one key to having a PowerShell Saturday, and that is a dedicated person who really wants to host the event in their town.

All the speakers are volunteers, and most will drive a couple hours or four to volunteer their time. So speakers are not an issue for you. What you need is someone, and that someone can be you, to head up the event. You need to decide how many people will realistically attend, find a venue to host the event, and then hit the pavement for sponsors.

For example, PowerShell Saturday 001 was in March in Columbus led by user group leader, Wes Stahler. There are two Microsoft PFEs in Columbus, and Ed and I rounded out the team. We used the Microsoft office in Columbus, which has a limit of 116 people. So we sold 100 tickets and used the other 16 spots for speakers and vendors. The PowerShell Saturday coming up in Charlotte is again in the Microsoft Office, but it is a lot larger building. Actually, there are two buildings with two sets of conference rooms, so we are able to handle 200 attendees.

When you know how many people you think will come and how many your venue will allow, you can approach speakers and sponsors. If you charge 10 dollars per person, you can pull the event off, but it will be a no frills event. (At least, this is true in the United States. We tend to follow what SQL Saturday charges to stay in line with the “community standard.”) The 10 bucks will feed your attendees, and provide drinks and snacks if you shop wisely.

Sponsors in today’s economic times usually offer giveaways more than cash. However, sometimes a sponsor will pay for lunch, which frees up your 10 dollars per person to buy some giveaways other than what the sponsors provide. Don’t forget to offer travel money to your speakers if they are coming from out of town. Even providing 25 dollars to speakers to assist with the cost of gasoline is especially appreciated. Some speakers are reimbursed by their employer for their travel to such events and some are not.

Some speakers are signed up through INETA, which sponsors user groups. You may be able to coordinate with one of the existing user groups in your area to help obtain speakers via INETA. If this is a possibility, check with the INETA website to find speakers in your vicinity who may volunteer, depending on the date and so on. In addition to Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVPs and Microsoft employees (such as premier field engineers), think about people who write blogs, assist with forums, speak at user groups, and others who are active in the community.

Ed and I will help all we can. But certainly, we cannot promise that he will come to speak—but we can discuss that (especially if you are going to host the event in Hawaii or somewhere in the Caribbean during the long winter months).

Do not be afraid to think outside of the box (or room in this case). If you expand your speaker pool to include remote speakers (via LYNC for example), you have access to the very best Windows PowerShell people in the world. One of the great things about the Windows PowerShell community is that we love to help, and we are passionate about our favorite technology.

I know I have rambled, but wanted to share all I could think of for now. Be sure to let me know if you need introductions to anyone. Just email scripter@microsoft.com and Ed will pass the email along to me.

NOTE: after this posting,I was contacted by Microsoft MVP, Doug Finke, the author of Windows PowerShell for Developers. In response to his email, I am adding the following information: The number of speakers will depend on the size of the venue and attendees,  in Columbus, we had 2 tracks Beginner and Advanced, for that you would need a minimum of 2 veteran speakers who could speak all day. In Columbus we went from 9-4 . ½ hr opening, 2 each 1 hour sessions, 1 hour lunch, 2 each 1 hour sessions, ½ hr closing and raffle.  We had 6 speakers for 8 slots,  Ed did 3 slots.  In Charlotte it is bigger so we will have 3 tracks, beginner, advanced and applied. With 5 sessions each. We are going from like 9-5. We have 15 speaker slots but 14 speakers, Ed is doing 2.  The day should match your crowd size. To round up 200 people in 2 bldgs we are going longer in Charlotte to accommodate people that want to go from one bldg. to the next plus the logistics of the opening remarks and lunch for that many people in 2 bldgs.  Clean up.  Again depends on the venue. Both times we have just been responsible for getting trash in containers and putting tables and chairs back where we found them. I kept things caught up during the day so we would not have to stay too late.  Usually there was at least one other person floating around and we just all pitched in when available.  Volunteers.  To organize and take care of sponsors , venue, registration etc. We have had 5 in Columbus and 4 here in Charlotte.  The day of the event 2 of us got everyone registered and in a room. I stayed out of the sessions and took care of stragglers and kept the food area cleaned up. I got lunch set up when it arrived. Then after lunch and sessions started back I got the snacks out and set up. Most of the time there was usual;ly one other person floating around that pitched in and helped. (I certainly did not do all the work) In Columbus,  Wes Stahler also stayed out of the sessions most of the time or was at the back of the room so  anyone could grab him without disturbing the session.  I do not know of a checklist, Jim Christopher or Wes Stahler may have one as they have been the leaders and both are very organized and detailed oriented — which are the two most important characteristics for people who want to organize a PowerShell Saturday event. Last but not least, PowerShell Saturday does not always have to occur on a Saturday, again it depends on your location and what the people in your city will support.

~Scripting Wife

Thank you, Teresa, for that very useful summary about organizing a Windows PowerShell Saturday event.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at scripter@microsoft.com, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy 


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