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There are CodePen Meetups all around the world. You can host one! We’ll support you the best we can. But ultimately you’re the host. You can choose any format you like for your meetup. The most common format is Show & Tell and this post is for our hosts (and potential hosts) who are interested in hosting a Show & Tell.

Anxiety! It’s everywhere!

The people that come to the meetup might be nervous to actually get up and show something. Public speaking! Scream! “I just want to sit here and take it all in.” they say to themselves, fully believing it. “Maybe next time.”

You might be nervous as well. You’re the one throwing this shindig and you want it to be fun and interesting. What if nobody wants to show anything? Scream!

The Snowball Effect

As someone who has been to a good number of Show & Tell themed CodePen Meetups (it’s the format we most often recommend), I can tell you I’ve seen The Snowball Effect many times.

The metaphor, for those of you who haven’t lived in snowy areas: if you start a snowball rolling down a snowy hillside, it will get bigger and bigger all on its own. In the context of a meetup, it works like this: two or three people do their show & tell. The room loosens up. Laughs are had. Everyone sees its no big deal. Lots more people are suddenly willing to go up and show something.

Many times, there isn’t enough time to get through everyone that wants to show.

Seed the room!

The trick is getting those first two or three people to go (your “seeds”). That’s easy if you plan ahead. You can be the first one! Or even better, have someone else go that you already know is willing to show something, and you go after that. That’s probably enough to snowball right there.

Chances are you have a friend, acquaintance, or colleague going. Hit them up ahead of time to ask them to show something. Remind them it can be anything. You can also reach out to the people who have already RSVP’d to look for seeds (our “Nvite” system allows you to email the people coming). You could even put a call-out on the RSVP page itself, like: “Got something you can show? Email us quick and we’ll put you on the list.”

Communicate the zero-barrier to entry

Absolutely anyone is welcome to show something off at a CodePen Meetup. Well, unless you’re some annoying startup doing a pitch for your startup. That’s tasteless and cheezy so don’t do that.

CodePen Meetups are about fun! and ideas! and helping!

Total beginners are welcome to show something. Maybe they drew a circle on a <canvas> for the first time ever. Awesome. Show it. It could be your/their first time ever talking to a group in your whole life. Awesome. Do it.

There is no pre-req here. You don’t have to be a pro at anything.

As the host, tell people that. Make it part of the message that the RSVP page, emails, tweets, and whatever other communication formats use and say.

Examples of things to show

The most common thing to show off at a Show & Tell themed CodePen Meetup is a Pen that you’ve made yourself. You bring it up in the editor (Presentation Mode is excellent for that, use big fonts and light-on-dark themes for projectors) and talk people through what’s going on. Play with the code a little.

But Pens you’ve created are not the only thing allowed. It could be just about anything you think a room full of web designers and developers would be interested in.

How about…

  • Someone else’s Pen you thought was cool
  • Some new JavaScript library you think is useful
  • A website you ran across with a design you think is interesting but need some help figuring out
  • A GitHub repo you ran across you think is interesting
  • An effect you used on your personal website you can show off how you achieved
  • Some software you use to do your job you think is underused

Creativity encouraged.

Follow up after each presenter

As host, we’d encourage you to follow up after each show & tell. Did some questions pop into your head as they were presenting? Ask them at the end. Pop onto the computer yourself and play around with their thing. Take some questions from the audience if they have any.

Some of the best stuff in a Show & Tell comes from the chitchat around what is shown.

The worst case scenario

This has never happened, as far as I know. But let’s imagine the worst case scenario: absolutely nobody has anything to show and no poking, prodding, or asking for brave souls is making it happen. And you haven’t been able to find anyone to commit ahead of time.

If you’re very anxious about this situation, you could make a loose list of like 10 things you could show. Show one of them off (make it a really lighthearted thing), then ask for volunteers. Keep showing your own stuff until you get somebody. Just having your own list will make sure that there is something to keep things move and should alleviate some pressure. You could take pressure off the audience by asking them to show something like the last website they worked on at work, or the very last Pen they made no matter what it is. If you absolutely get nothing, finish your list, cut it short and move onto socializing! No big deal.