How to Speak in Any Meetup

Most people today understand the importance of networking to advance their personal and professional goals. And one of the most practical and effective ways to expand our network is to participate in Meetups. In general, people who go to Meetups have the explicit goal to make new contacts, with the intention that these new connections may generate them interesting opportunities in the future.

Even better than participating in a Meetup is to be a speaker. Of course, the person who is the speaker in a Meetup is the focus of attention, and will have the possibility of making many new connections. For this reason, it is not difficult for Meetup organizers to find qualified professionals who are willing to speak for free. A great way to establish our personal brand and improve our reputation is to be invited to speak at such events.

But of course there is only a limited number of Meetups, and it may be difficult to be frequently invited to speak. Naturally, the Meetup organizers want to diversify their speakers, and will avoid inviting the same person more than once. For this reason, it is common for professional speakers to travel to other cities in order to have more opportunities to join such events.

Now the question: How can you speak in any Meetup?

I will share with you an approach I have been using for many years, and which is very effective: When I want to speak in a Meetup, I simply listen to the presentation and ask interesting questions. It may be surprising, but a person in the audience asking a good question may drive as much attention as the speaker. As a result, many of the other people in the audience will remember the ones who asked the questions, and will be interested in talking to them.

Thus, as a consequence of my questions, it always happens that some people will approach me after the talk. These people have a very clear way to start a conversation with me, because they can refer to the question I asked during the talk. They also may have an initial understanding about who I am and what are my topics of interest, based on the questions I asked.

For example, it is very common that people approach me and say: “I really liked your question!” Others may say: “You asked an interesting question, and this is my opinion about it…” And sometimes people will say: “I did not completely understand your question nor the speaker’s answer, can you please explain it to me?”

Very often, when I ask a question, I start by introducing myself and explaining what I do. For example I could say: “I’m the CTO at a startup company and we are also using Machine Learning to solve a similar problem. Can you please explain…” Thus, I use my question as an opportunity to make a personal introduction and present myself to the other Meetup’s participants. It is very effective, and in my opinion also very polite.

But if you would like to adopt this approach, it is important to make sure that your questions are authentic. I only ask a question if there is something that I really want to understand, and only if I believe that most people in the audience would be interested in knowing the answer to this specific question. In other words, the answer to your questions should be a natural extension to the material being presented by the speaker.

Thus, in general I avoid making provocative questions, or questions that may sound as a kind of criticism to the material being presented by the speaker. I also avoid making questions that are not directly related to the main topic being discussed, or questions that would require an answer that is at a much deeper level and take a long time to explain. Finally, the questions should never be an interruption, so I wait for the appropriate moments to ask them.

I hope you can benefit from this approach in the next Meetups you participate in the future, and that it will help you to grow your network with interesting new connections. Please feel free to use the comments below if you have other ideas about how to enjoy your Meetups.

About Hayim Makabee

Veteran software developer, enthusiastic programmer, author of a book on Object-Oriented Programming, co-founder and CEO at KashKlik, an innovative Influencer Marketing platform.
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