How to Organize a CLSx Event

CLSx events are designed to be local versions of the main Community Leadership Summit that happens each year in Portland, Oregon. These events are designed to provide a place where community leaders and managers can get together to share and learn from each other.

Anyone can organize a CLSx event, and the only pre-requisite is that you apply for a CLSx license. This license is a document that outlines a set of requirements that ensure the event mirrors the general feel and structure of a CLSx event.

This page provides a set of guidelines for how to organize an awesome CLSx event. If you have any further querie, questions, or just want to bounce ideas of folks, please ask on the forum at

Getting a CLSx License

If you would like to organize a CLSx event (thank-you!) you should first go and take a look at the current CLSx License. You should ensure that you are comfortable meeting the needs of the license.

To apply for a license email Jono Bacon with the following details about the event you are planning:

  • The venue, location, and date of the event.
  • How many days the event will be.
  • A summary of the event, how it will work, and what content you will have.
  • Confirmation that you have read this license in full and agree to abide the terms herein.

Jono Bacon will review this and likely follow up with further questions. If it is felt you meet the criteria outlined here, Jono will formally offer you a CLSx license.

Before You Begin

Before you start planning your awesome CLSx event, we recommend you first put together a small team of volunteers. This is often as simple as reaching out to some friends and asking if they will participate. It is recommended that you assign a few roles here:

  • Overall Project Lead (likely you) - someone to keep the team motivated and act as a point of contact.
  • Venue/Equipment coordination - someone to coordinate with the venue and help ensure equipment is sourced.
  • Social Event coordination - someone to plan social events that happen in the evenings.
  • Promotional coordination - someone to help spread the word about the event.

You may have multiple people with the same roles, but we recommend you have at least 3 people working together to spread the workload of organizing a CLSx event.


Most CLSx events are fairly straight-forward to organize. You simply need to coordinate the following logistics:

  • Venue and Date/Time - a place to host the event and a date or dates that you want the event to run.
  • Event Structure - a CLSx requires an unconference component, but are there other types of content (e.g. presentations, round-tables) that you would like to incorporate?
  • Equipment/Infrastructure - core equipment that you will need for the event such as projection, audio, etc.
  • Materials - some soft materials you will need for the event (e.g. namebadges, session cards) etc. Fortunately we provide much of this.
  • Social Events - additional social events to get the community togther.

We will cover these in-depth now.

Venue and Date/Time

You can hold a CLSx event almost anywhere. Examples include:

  • Restaurants/bars/coffee shops.
  • College/University campuses and rooms.
  • Parks
  • Homes

Most CLSx events will be fairly small (less than 60 attendees), so you should first brainstorm venues that will have the space for your expected attendance. Many different events like CLSx are often able to find a venue that costs little or nothing. As an example, universities, coffee shops and other places are great places that often provide the space for free.

When you have a brainstormed list of venues you should start deciding a date or dates for the event. A CLSx event has no core requirements about how long it should be, but we recommend it is at least half a day long, and preferably at least a day long. This will provide enough content for someone to justify attending.

When assessing dates, consider the following:

  • Can you and your team be there on those dates?
  • Are there any public or religious holidays on or near those dates?
  • Will transport facilities be up and running on those dates?
  • Are there any other conflicting events on those dates?

With a venue and date all set, let's move on!

Event Structure

Next you should decide how you want to structure your event. A CLSx event is required to have an unconference component but it doesn't have to be limited to this. Some CLSx events like to include additional types of content such as:

  • Lightning - short (3 - 5min) talks with no slides. Typically lots of talks within a single hour.
  • Plenaries - fairly short (15 - 30min) presentations with slides that provide an overview of topics.
  • Presentations - longer (30 - 45min) presentations with slides to cover topics in depth.
  • Panels - a Q&A session with a set number of people on a panel (typically around 4 people).

We recommend you have a mixture of content for your CLSx event. Many events provide the unconference format as the main foundation and then include additional types of content such as those above as well. This happens at the main Community Leadership Summit event (see


When running any event there will be certain equipment you need. In many cases this equipment can be borrowed from friends and colleagues for use at the event.

Below is an equipment checklist of things you will probably need to coordinate:

  • Chairs - chairs for people to sit together in sessions. If you have multiple discussion sessions (which is recommended), you will want to group chairs together.
  • Registration table - a long table where people can grab name-badges and register.
  • Printed materials (name badges, session cards, session numbers)

You may also need the following, depending on the content of your CLSx event:

  • PA sound system - if you need to speak to large crowd, you may need a mic and amplified sound system (check the venue though, many include them built into the room).
  • Projectors/Screens - if you have slide content, you will need projection and screens.


Social Events