Lauren Kelly was our epic Glug Berlin host, before moving back to her old stomping ground in Manchester so therefor no longer able to run the chapter on that side of the world. She shares with us what it was like running a busy Glug, and all the things she's learned along the way.
We're looking for a new Glug Berlin host, if this sounds like you, drop Lauren a line – firstname.lastname@example.org
Industry events are part and parcel of being in a creative profession. We take every opportunity to feed the inspiration machine and get out of the studio to meet others. But what is it actually like to run an event? Below are the top 9 things I learned while setting up and running Glug in Berlin.
For those of you who know Glug and those who don’t, it’s an evening centered around ‘notworking’, a few talks and a few more beers. We get speakers who range from the best in the industry, to those all important new voices. Glug is originally from London and has slowly been advancing towards world domination. As a part of its expansion, I introduced Glug to Berlin in 2016.
Hunt for diverse speakers
When planning events, there is no denying it. I have to talk about gender. It is a difficult subject, both while ensuring equal representation on speaker lineups and in writing this article. So please excuse any generalisations.
I am a huge advocate for more women being on stage.
I noticed some distinct differences in how female and male creatives promote themselves, respond and in their preparation before the event.
Women tend to promote themselves differently. They don’t use traditional channels to promote themselves or their work. Finding great female speakers is a much more vernacular process. I’m always asking other people for recommendations of ‘people I should meet’, asking people about their work instead of looking for it on their portfolio site, using Google and Twitter keyword searches to find interesting projects and searching Medium for articles.
Men, for the most part, seem to be much more active on sites like Dribbble, blog posts and conference lists. So on the surface they seem to be more visible in the field.
Which leads me to one big piece of advice to everyone, promote yourself more. Make it easy to see your great work and content, so event organisers can actively see you talking on that stage.
Another factor that affects both men and women is that Glug is an evening event, in what I would call ‘peak family time’. For our speakers that have families, it’s a big ask to take their precious time and lump on any costs for childcare. I didn’t want this to deter people from speaking, that otherwise would have. I offer to cover the childcare costs for the evening and move the speaking schedules around so parents can get off early - if they want to that is.
Love thy speakers
All our speakers give up their time to speak at Glug Berlin. They give their time for free, and create new content for the event’s theme. If anyone has written a talk, you know this takes days, if not weeks of mulling it over, writing up scripts and searching for the perfect gif.
So thank you Martina Flor, Pilar Serna (Pivotal Labs), Ed Macovaz (Ableton), Harry Keller (Diesdas.digital), Polina Joffe, Liv Marsden (Edenspiekermann), Josh Fruttiger (Unit 9), Melanie Davide (Onefootball), Jenny Zegenhagen (Etsy), Thorsten Dittmar (Orderbird), Max Ackermann (Siberia), Polina Kadkina (Hellofresh), Julio Rölle and Sebastian Bagge (44 flavours).
Running events is hard
People never realise how much work and time goes into creating events, let alone the anxiety your feel for around 2 weeks before event day.
I generally start planning an event around 6 weeks beforehand and don’t relax until the last speaker starts their talk on the evening.
I am a compulsive over worrier, so I worry about everything; whether the theme is interesting, if you can get the speakers you really want, how you’ll get enough money to pay for it all, suppliers, tech hookup, whether anyone will turn up, if people had a good time, and if they will come back.
Always thank the person putting on events for the industry. It’s not an easy job.
Have great friends
The Glug Berlin profile says ‘Organised by Lauren’, but in fact it should read ‘Organised by Lauren and her amazing, supportive friends’.
Everyone that helps at Glug Berlin’s events is one of my close friends. I have asked them countless questions, stressed at them and they handle all the tasks that need doing on the evening. From sound and lighting, to videography, photographer, drinks restocker, door people, floaters, the list goes on. Without everyone else, it would just be me stood on a dark stage with no sound looking rather miserable.
The venue and the space in which you hold the event has a huge impact. I always try to get a venue with two rooms, one for speaking and one breakout room for the ‘notworking’. I found that having one room with the chairs all in lines makes people do one thing. They grab a drink and sit down with the person they came with. It stops people meeting and removes that friendly feel of the event.
It’s much harder to walk up to someone sat down, than if they are floating around next to the beer fridge.
Not just beer
Beer is the traditional go to for evening events - especially in Berlin, but I for one hate beer! I always tried to mix up the drinks selection so everyone has a bit of choice. Cider goes down very well.
I also try and include a number of different non-alcoholic drinks, usually ranging across water, something with caffeine and something without caffeine.
Where possible I like to support locaI brewers and suppliers. I think this is important to a city like Berlin, where there are lots of local companies and small producers. I must also thank Austin Fraser who sponsor all the drinks drunk at Glug Berlin. Without those guys I’m not sure how I would have kept everyone watered.
Have a warm up
Whether you are introverted or extroverted, walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation is still hard. I make an effort to introduce attendees to groups of people that might interest them and get people to actively meet each other when sat down. My favourite is to make odd rows turn around and ask the person behind them ‘how was your day?’. Nothing like the roar of conversation to get a Glug rolling.
Unexpected things happen
I’ve met more amazing people whilst doing Glug Berlin, than over the entirety of my career. It gives you a ticket to email that person you’ve always wanted to meet, and ask them to a coffee. You also get emailed in turn by people visiting the city, or who are connected to Glug. It’s a big community.
And finally, the one that has had the largest impact on my life…
It’s a confidence builder
There’s nothing like learning the rules of the game, than by being a games master. I’ve learnt so much about self promotion, networking and speaking at events through doing Glug Berlin.
For me the most significant surprise, it has made me more confident in my voice and my career.
Since starting Glug Berlin I’ve gone on to speak at Invision Labs, General Assembly London, University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and Glug Leeds. Things that were unimaginable before.
I learned that the people I admire most in the industry are still just people, who get nervous and worry about how they come off. These are the same things that hold a lot of other people back. So if you are worrying about applying to speak at an event, you’re in the majority, so just do it anyway.
It’s been a crazy ride.
I’ve now left Berlin and, sadly, I am looking to hand over the reins to a new team. If you want to run the event, drop me an email: email@example.com