3-min read
May 9, 2022

Engagement Play #26: Weird Talks

Kirsti Lang

Erica Moss used 'weird talks' to add a fresh flair to an old community format.

In her time as Senior Manager, Community Engagement at Atlassian, Erica Moss hosted regular Coffee Chat sessions, a monthly Zoom hangout where their ambassadors gathered informally and without an agenda.

But as the novelty wore off, she started struggling to drum up attendance. “I was consistently seeing the same five or so people,” she says. Rather than ditching the sessions in favor of something else, Erica went back to the drawing board to make a few tweaks — and struck gold.

“I decided to formalize things a bit by encouraging attendees to sign up to present ‘weird talks’, with the definition of weird being super broad. The ask was simple: ‘If you’re passionate about a certain topic or know a lot about something, share it with the group!’ We had a couple of folks raise their hands immediately, and I began promoting their talks in advance of the next Coffee Chat. I was blown away by the results!”

Attendance increased by an impressive 171%. “It signaled to me that an informal networking session was less of a draw than the opportunity to learn something new. I think it served to further humanize the folks in the program and gave people an opportunity to speak in front of a group.”

For Community Managers who’d like to implement something similar, Erica is quick to point out that the weird talks weren’t tied to Atlassian products or practices. “I think you can fully apply this idea at your organization. What better way to celebrate the myriad experiences and passions among your members than by asking them to speak about those things!

“One tip I would offer is to call out a few individuals that you know well and suggest things they could talk about to jump-start the initiative — it gives them a nudge to sign up and will, ideally, spark ideas from the other members.”

On the hunt for more handy engagement plays?

You’re in luck — our Community Engagement Playbook features more than 50 of them! Head over here to download it for free.

Community Engagement Playbook cover with illustrations of a book, a guitar, a teddy bear, a house, a tea pot, headphones and a calendar, among other things.

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