Elastic user groups speaker guide

Speaking at an Elastic meetup is a great way to share your knowledge, get feedback on ideas, and build your speaking profile. This speaker guide will provide guidance on formulating your talk from abstract to presentation.

If you have any other questions, please contact us at meetups@elastic.co. We encourage you to send us a note, and we’d be happy to walk through this guide with you! And, we’re always looking to improve the guide — please let us know if you have any additions or changes you’d like to see.

Why speak?

Speaking at an Elastic meetup is a great way to share your Elastic use case, experience, and story. Meetup attendees are excited to hear first-hand accounts from other Elastic users, and they’ll gladly ask questions and share valuable feedback on your presentation.

Benefits of speaking at meetups include:

  1. Getting community feedback on your work
  2. Sharing your knowledge and helping others to solve their problems
  3. Contributing to open source discussions
  4. Building your speaking profile
  5. Deepening your understanding of your setup by explaining your use case to a user group
  6. Networking with other Elastic developers in your area
  7. Earning points for the Elastic Contributor Program (pro tip: turn your presentation into an article and submit it as “Written Content” in addition to “Presentation” contribution)

What to expect at a meetup

Before you start preparing your presentation, it’s helpful to understand the atmosphere and environment of the meetup where you’ll be presenting. Venues, audiences, and technical setup vary across Elastic user groups. Be sure to confirm the venue and setting, technical setup, time allotted to your presentation, and expected audience with the Elastic user group community organizer.

While Elastic meetups differ a bit from group to group,* they are usually informal events lasting for 1-2 hours on a weekday evening.

*Many of these differences are regional. For example, user groups in India tend to host meetups over the weekend or during lunchtime, whereas weekend meetups are rare for most of the groups in the United States. When in doubt, check with the group’s community organizer about the group's preference.

Meetup agenda

While agendas can vary from group to group, most live meetups follow this outline:

  1. Start time: Doors usually open about 30 minutes before the first talk. It’s a good idea to get there 15 minutes in advance to get set up and touch base with the community organizer.
  2. First 30 minutes: Attendees arrive, grab some food and drink, and mingle.
  3. 30 minutes after start time: Presentations begin; they last about 20-25 minutes with Q&A. You can choose to take questions at the end or during the presentation.
  4. 60-75 minutes after doors open: Speaker #2 usually starts about 30-45 minutes after the first speaker.
  5. [Insert more speakers here, if needed.]
  6. Talks should wrap up about 2-3 hours after doors open, and attendees tend to stick around to ask more questions or mingle.

Most virtual meetups follow this agenda:

  1. Start time: For the first 5 minutes, hosts chat with the audience and adjust settings as they wait for folks to arrive.
  2. 5 minutes after start time: Host introduces the speaker(s) and kicks off the meetup.
  3. 5-40 minutes after start time: Presentation(s) and questions.
  4. 40-50 minutes after start time: Any lingering questions and wrap up.

Presentation length

We welcome presentations ranging from 15 to 45 minutes in length. Focusing on technical topics for longer periods of time can be challenging for the audience, so we don’t recommend going over 30-45 minutes on your presentation — unless you plan to include a demo or a hands-on component.

Technical setup for live meetups

Make sure to ask the community organizer or host about the technical setup for the meetup. Here are some things you may want to ask about:

  • Projector for a presentation with slides or a demo. 
    • Optional: If you prefer to advance your slides with a clicker, find out if one will be provided or if you should bring your own.
    • If presentation slides aren’t your thing, check with the community organizer to see if the venue has a whiteboard or poster boards to take notes or diagram things out.
  • Common connector cables: It’s a good rule of thumb to bring your own just in case, and ask ahead of time to make sure the venue has the right ones for your laptop.
  • Access to Wi-Fi or wired Internet and whether it’s stable enough to run a demo.
  • Microphone, especially if the venue doesn’t have very good acoustics, or if you tend to be soft spoken and don’t want to worry about volume.
    • Optional: Get details — what kind of microphone do they have? Is it on a stand, hand-held, or a lavalier? If you like using your hands or walking around when you speak, having a lavalier mic will be important.
  • Recording capabilities: We post meetup recordings to our Official Elastic Community Youtube Channel. If being recorded is not something you're comfortable with, just let the community organizer know.

Things can go wrong, so try to have a simple backup plan. For example, send your slides to the organizer, put them on a USB drive, or save them as a PDF. Lastly, arrange to arrive a bit early to test things out and make sure you or the venue have the right cables!


What should you do after speaking? After the meetup, there are few things we encourage you to do.

  1. Share your slides with meetup attendees by sharing them on the comments section of the event page for the meetup. Please also send a copy of your slides to meetups@elastic.co so we can upload them to the community.elastic.co event page.
  2. If there’s a recording of your presentation, share it with your network.
  3. Think about where to share your presentation next! Other tech user groups in your area are almost certainly looking for speakers, and your topic may fit right in (a lot of Elastic user group speakers also speak at their DevOps or Java user groups). If you’re traveling, you may want to check in with regional Elastic user groups. And, tech conferences like ElasticON are great places to showcase your talk on a larger stage — keep an eye out for the CFPs. Another way to share your talk is to turn it into a blog post.
  4. Join the Elastic Contributor Program if you haven’t already, and submit a “Presentation” contribution! If you turn your presentation into an article you can submit it as “Written Content” as well.

Presenting at Elastic vs. other tech user groups

If you’re presenting at an Elastic user group, most attendees will have some knowledge and hands-on experience with the Elastic Stack. Experience levels will range from beginner to expert users, so plan accordingly. It is OK (and suggested) to set expectations in your abstract or at the beginning of the presentation if your talk is geared towards a specific experience level.

If you are speaking at a non-Elastic user group about the Elastic Stack, be aware that you might be introducing members of the audience to Elastic’s products for the first time. For example, a DevOps user group or a JavaScript user group may need a few extra minutes in the intro to give everyone the context needed for your talk. A good rule of thumb is to check with the local organizer –– they should have a good idea of the experience level of their user group members. They should also have a good understanding of topics the group is interested in hearing about.

Elastic Community Code of Conduct

All Elastic user group communities adhere to the Elastic Community Code of Conduct. Make sure you give it a read and keep it in mind as you prepare your presentation materials. (As always, if you have any questions, the community organizer and the Elastic Community team at meetups@elastic.co can help.) Many other user groups have a code of conduct as well, so it’s a good idea to read it before preparing your talk.

Creating an abstract and bio

A strong presentation abstract and speaker bio generates higher audience turnout and better discussion. Let’s dig in on how to write stand-out abstracts and bios.

What is an abstract? An abstract is a concise paragraph summarizing your talk. To help you get started, take a look at these helpful instructions on how to write an abstract, put together by Philip Koopman at Carnegie Mellon University. You can also check out the Elastic meetup abstracts and bios on our events page.

What is a bio? A bio is a brief description of you, the speaker. This only needs to be a sentence or two, usually mentioning your current role and past experience.

You can also check out these resources to help you write a great bio:

Choosing a presentation topic

Meetups are a great way to network with others in your local tech community and learn from each others’ technical stories. We’ve got a few broad guidelines for Elastic user group presentations.

First, your talk should be technical, or focus on your use case and setup. A good guideline here is you want the audience to be able to take what they’ve learned and apply it right away –– so try to stay focused on the open source Elastic Stack.

We do not allow any type of sales or product pitch — a user group is not an appropriate forum for these activities. If you’re looking to build more awareness about your company or a product, or you want to recruit for your company, refer to our community organizer guide for more information on how to appropriately mention these things during your talk.

We’ve listed some of the common talk types below, and you can always talk to the local community organizer to find out if the group is interested in a specific topic or get feedback on your topic.

  1. Use case: Are you using Elastic for logging analytics, monitoring, search, or another use case? Attendees are looking to learn how others have set up their stack or learn a new way to use the Elastic Stack. (See below for a presentation guide.) You might want to include:
    1. What things looked like “before Elastic”
    2. The architecture of your setup
    3. Your implementation and decisions made along the way
    4. Results and successes
    5. Difficulties you experienced and how you resolved them
    6. A demo
    7. Ideas for the future
  2. Best practices and lessons learned: Attendees want to learn from your successes and your mistakes. Share the lessons you learned while getting started with the stack, while implementing a new feature, or scaling your setup.
  3. Feature focus: Give a focused talk on a particular feature that changed your life — or at least made an impact on your implementation.
  4. Getting started: Walk through how you got started with a project, and any tips and tricks you have. This is a great presentation for all experience levels — whether you’re talking about your first Elastic Stack project or you’re doing something new and advanced.
  5. Open source: Have you contributed to a part of the Elastic Stack? Are you building an open source plugin for the Elastic Stack that you want to share? Inform others about how to get more involved with Elastic projects as contributors (and be sure to check out our Elastic Contributor Program if you haven’t already!).

Something else on your mind? We’re happy to set up a quick call to help refine your idea, go over options (or share what we’ve seen work well), and do some brainstorming. Email us at meetups@elastic.co if you want help!

Deciding on a presentation style

Many speakers opt for a presentation with slides, but you’re more than welcome to get creative and try out other formats! Other common styles include:

  1. Lightning talk: Perfect if you’ve got a bite-size topic. Lightning talks are 5-10 minutes long and can be a great way to ease into presenting.
  2. Demo: “Show, don’t tell.” Demos can be combined with slides or you can go without slides and just show a demo. We often see folks starting with 2-5 slides for background context and then diving into the demo.
  3. Hands-on lab: Want to get attendees more involved? Opt for a hands-on approach. Have attendees bring their laptops and follow along. Be sure to share with the community organizer that you’ll want attendees to bring their laptops, and advise them on any software they’ll need to have installed before the event.
  4. Whiteboard: Sometimes you just want to get away from the screens and diagram it out. Check with the community organizer to see if the venue can accommodate this type of session.
  5. Roundtable or “birds of a feather” discussion: Do you have a really good topic that you’re itching to talk with other folks about? Lead a discussion!
  6. Q&A session: If there’s a certain part of the Elastic Stack you’re experienced in, offer yourself up for attendee questions.

Check out some other options in our community organizer guide.

Slide template

We’ve created a slide presentation template to guide you in the right direction. Feel free to change it up to best fit your topic and style.

Creating your presentation

Once you’ve decided on your topic and presentation style, we recommend outlining it. Outlines aren’t for everyone, but can be a helpful tool. Here’s a sample outline to help get you started:

  1. Introduction: Tell us about yourself and your organization (if you’re representing one). If you’re representing your company, they may have a standard slide they’d like you to include.
  2. Agenda: An overview slide can be helpful to set the stage.
  3. Challenges and/or goals: Introduce the central question or challenge you’re trying to solve with Elastic.
  4. Why Elastic: Why you chose to try Elastic or bring it into the project.
  5. Implementation details
    1. Describe your architecture (e.g., data sources, message queues, application infrastructure) and data flow, and explain how the Elastic Stack fits into your architecture.
      1. Is the deployment in an internal data center or in the cloud?
      2. Include diagram(s) of your setup architecture.
    2. How were you measuring and demonstrating success against those milestones to stakeholders?
      1. Share your timeline/milestones/benchmarks.
      2. Talk about key stakeholders that were involved and how you got buy-in.
    3. What are some of your favorite features of the Elastic Stack and how do you use them?
  6. Post-implementation results
    1. What have been your results? How has it changed things for your customers/internal users?
    2. This is a great place for comparison metrics or qualitative feedback you might have — increased speed, mean time to recovery, business value improvements, or why your customers/internal users were happy.
  7. Best practices and lessons learned
  8. Future plans for the project, or new uses for the the Elastic Stack projects on the roadmap
  9. Q&A


You can check out recordings of past meetups on our YouTube channel, or browse “past events” in the Elastic user group where you’ll be presenting.

Other helpful hints:

  1. Put code on the screen (and make sure the contrast/sizing is visible).
  2. Try to minimize text-heavy slides. Talk more — and include more pictures.
  3. Make sure your slides are readable. We recommend high contrast (black text on white background, white text on a black background). Try to have a font size of at least 36.
  4. Include a diagram of your architecture –– a quick snapshot of your numbers.
  5. Walk us through your journey –– timeline it out.
  6. Quotes can be fun! Memes and GIFs are also fun, but be aware that GIFs, especially high-contrast and fast-moving ones, can be difficult for some folks.*
  7. Make it clear what you were trying to achieve and how you did it.
  8. Include screenshots of your setup or visualizations you use.
  9. Give a quick view of your takeaways with a summary slide at the end.
  10. Include resources and contact info –– this is especially helpful for folks checking out the slides after the event.
  11. Check out speaking.io, a standalone site by Holman (former GitHubber, prolific tech speaker). It's a living site, but is currently split into five categories of posts (talk planning [CFPs, outlines, finding conferences to speak at], slide design [color schemes, typography], prep for the day [e.g.,what to look for in the room you're in, practicing your talk, prepping for live demos], delivery [how to handle mistakes, dealing with nerves, using a remote], and react/reflect [including improvements, sharing the recording, etc.]). This is great content, but keep in mind it reflects one person's experiences and perspective.

*For more information on how to make your presentation more accessible, check out this guide.

If you’re looking to add some Elastic logos to your presentation slides (especially your diagrams), check out our Brand page for image files and usage guidelines.

Practicing and reviewing your presentation

The best way to prepare for your talk is to practice –– whether in front of a mirror, pacing in your kitchen, or in front of someone else. The Elastic Community team is happy to hop on the phone or a video call and be that person you practice in front of –– we are also happy to review your slides and provide feedback. We have a team of developer advocates whose job is to create presentations and give conference and meetup talks, so having their feedback is valuable.

If you would like us to review your presentation slides, we recommend connecting with us at least a week prior to the meetup –– that way you have enough time to incorporate any feedback and make last-minute changes. We know many speakers put their slides together last minute, and if that’s your jam, don’t feel obligated to sync with us — we want to be available when you need us, not cramp your style.

This Medium article provides some great tips on practicing for your first talk.

Promoting your talk

The Elastic Community team, along with the community organizer, will help to promote the meetup through meetup.com and community.elastic.co. We also encourage you to promote your talk in your local circles and on social media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all great ways to get the word out.

Have fun and celebrate!

Don’t forget to have fun and celebrate this great achievement! Speaking at a meetup should be an exciting, adrenaline-producing experience, so don’t forget to enjoy it. Once you start speaking, you won’t want to stop!

Resources and acknowledgments

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the PolyglotVancouver Speaker’s Guide, which was a huge source of inspiration in developing this content.

Here are several other resources that you can reference in your speaker journey, whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned veteran.

  1. Official Elastic Community YouTube Channel: A collection of meetup talk recordings.
  2. community.elastic.co: Check out “past events” to find meetup slide decks.
  3. Elastic community organizer guide: Our guide to Elastic user groups for community organizers.
  4. How to prepare and write a conference talk: Part 1 of 2; has some great pieces like ideas for expanding talk topics, how to figure out talk length, and a really good section on storytelling with a ton of external links.
  5. On conference speaking: A super in-depth dive into one person's process (mind mapping, outlining, practicing, etc.).
  6. How I create talks: Different tools are used; the author focuses on iterations, and she's got some good time estimates (20-40 hours, head to tail, for the talk).
  7. Every Great Speaker Is a Fantastic Pauser — On Using Pauses and Silences in Public Speaking: Details different types of pauses and how to use them.
  8. https://github.com/vmbrasseur/Public_Speaking: A compilation of speaking resources for tech professionals.
  9. https://tinyletter.com/techspeak: Sign up for tips and tricks on speaking delivered to your inbox.

These helpful steps may reference conference proposals, but they are almost identical for meetup talks –– minus the call for papers submission.

Contact information

Reach out to your local community organizer through meetup.com or community.elastic.co or email us at meetups@elastic.co if you’re interested in speaking.