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Leading a Coffee Table Group

This document outlines what is expected of a Coffee Table Group, and how a member can start a new one.

Our Coffee Table Groups have been one of the most popular and valuable features for members of our community. Coffee Table Groups are small, special interest groups created and run by members. They can involve Zoom meetings, async slack hangouts, or anything else that the members would like to do.

A group with a common interest who would like to cultivate it through more intimate and scheduled conversation. Member-led, developed, and driven for other VC members. Coffee Table Groups adhere to the Virtual Coffee Code of Conduct and hold community feedback in the highest regard. The result is a meetup with a smaller group that will implement suggestions. Because these groups are part of the VC community, there may be industry veterans in attendance, willing to engage and connect, or the leader may encourage attendees to speak with specific VC members per topic of conversation.

A Coffee Table Group Leader creates a space and context for conversation. Current leaders describe the role as a Virtual Coffee Room Leader, but with a content focus. A Leader hosts events on a consistent schedule, comes up with topics to discuss for each event, and encourages attendess. They also set expectations for attendees via clear communication about scheduling and giving new members context when they join.

  • If using the VC-events CMS, have 1-2 group leaders willing to schedule and communicate with VC maintainers
  • Adherence to the Code of Conduct
  • Use the COC violation form rather than trying to take care of Code of Conduct violations yourself.
  • Clearly relate any guidelines or requirements to members of your group. For example let them know if they must commit to leading a session, have a specific experience level, etc.
  • Zoom rooms hosted by Virtual Coffee
  • Events appear in announcements and on the Virtual Coffee events page
  • Reminders during Coffees and other official events

If you'd like to start a new Coffee Table Group, go ahead and fill out our Coffee Table Group Application!

Each Coffee Table Group will have its own approach and personality, but it's important to create an environment where your group members feel supported and know what to expect. Here are some tips to help establish a healthy group:

  • Determine the schedule, type, and format for your group
  • Will you meet weekly, monthly, or some other way?
  • Will it always be a synchronous meeting?
  • Will you have async check-ins in between meetings?
  • What type of meeting is it (Q&A, presentation, small group convo, pair programming, interactive, etc.)?
  • Is there material that needs to be covered?
  • Will members be asked to lead a session?
  • Are other volunteers or co-leads needed?
  • Are there expectations for communication among the group members? Where will you be communicating? (slack channel, only in zoom, etc.).
  • Are there expectations for communicating in a video chat (for example, using the hand raise function, doing an intro, etc.)?
  • Please provide the following links in video meetings:
    • Code of Conduct:
    • COC Violation Form:

If your group is an ongoing group, you may find that you don't have the time or energy to continue hosting. That's ok. It's really important that all volunteers (and leading a coffee table group is definitely an act of volunteering) know that it is always okay to prioritize their mental and physical health. Rather than discontinuing the group by not scheduling a new one, see if anyone in the group or the larger VC community is willing to take on the responsibility. Communicate with your Coffee Table Group about the need for a new host. If you're unable to do so, let the maintainers know.

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