Engaging your Hackers
The level of communication, fun, connectivity, learning and the overall life-changing experience one has in a hackathon is unmatched to any other event. To simulate this, we have seen the best way is to increase in any possible way, the communication between the attendees, be it the hackers, sponsors, judges, mentors or event the organizers!

Brainstorming Workshop

Brainstorming is the most important part of the hacker's experience at a hackathon, and for some hackers, it's also the most difficult.
Usually, hackers take one of two approaches:
  • Start with a problem they want to solve and then develop an idea to solve it.
    Hackers who want to focus on improving an aspect of their lives or hacking for
    social impact might prefer this route.
  • Start with a technology they want to use in their hack and then develop a
    hack around it. Hackers who want to learn about a popular or emerging
    technology might prefer this route.
Running a hands-on workshop covering brainstorming techniques at the start of your hackathon will enable them to hit the ground running. Design thinking is a widely used, user-centered technique for generating and prototyping ideas to solve problems that users face.

Pitch Session

A pitch session is a structured event where hackers who have ideas for hacks and are looking for teammates present their ideas to an audience. Typically, presenters describe the problem or technology they want to design their hack around and what skill set they're looking for. Hackers who are looking for teams and have the matching skill set can offer to join the presenter.

Organizer on Call

Have an organizer table setup or have an organizer in a voice chat at all times. Tell hackers and sponsors they can stop by/hop on the chat to ask questions or just hang out. This can be a great way to have some kind of a hangout session in the hackathon where people can talk random stuff, related/ not related to the hackathon and have a great time together!

Organizing Mini Events & Games

Organizing small breakout sessions of mini-event or games can be great ways to help your hackers have some fun, meet people around and find something useful from the whole experience! Taking a break can help hackers reset before going back to their projects.

Organizing Workshops

Workshops are a great way to get your hackers in the mood of working on something new, something they have not experienced or tried before and help your sponsors as well by increasing their product awareness. Having workshops, webinars etc. work extremely when it comes to facilitating a conversation within the hackathon!

Announcing Updates

Send updates into your chat channel throughout the event. Remind people when activities are happening and share highlights from your activities! Expect questions to pop us as soon as you announce an event, so give some buffer time for questions and folks to join events late.

Digital Engagement

In a physical event, you can quickly communicate with people in the same room as you. However, at a digital event, you’ll need to set up an environment so that people feel comfortable starting conversations as they would in-person.
As we discussed in the Digital Hackathons Software section, having a chat channel like Slack/Discord is essential. Creating separate channels for groups, teams, and interests would be the first step. We also suggest your organizing team to be active on these platforms to help facilitate conversations, moderate threads and get people chatting. This also makes your hackathon more accessible for people who have a hard time in large groups.
Don’t forget to set up Discord roles to show if someone is an organizer, hacker, sponsor, or mentor. If you're using Slack, you can utilize statuses for this information.