In these unprecedented times as we continue to stay and work at home as much as possible, we believe it’s still vitally important to continue working with the numerous community events we’ve been so honored to participate and support over the last few years.
And, whilst it’s no longer possible to meet in person, we’ve been truly impressed by the number of WordPress meetups that have moved to virtual events instead, helping to continue the sharing of information, knowledge and ideas. It’s never been more important to keep this going – especially when the world can feel so unconnected right now.
The next few months are uncertain for many businesses around the world but one thing is for certain, maintaining personal connections and interactions among the communities we work in will continue to be a valued resource for many.
Whether you’re a solo worker, freelancer or part of an agency, the work the various WordPress community leaders are doing to keep the meetups going is what makes this community so amazing! So let’s take a look at some tips from a number or WordPress meetup organizers on how they’re keeping their events running – albeit in a different way.
Keep the community interaction
Just because the event is virtual, doesn’t mean the questions, comments and information sharing needs to stop!
But, when you’re on a video call – how can you keep this going?
Mariano Pérez from the WordPress Sevilla community suggests one way to do this is to incorporate a chat or comments feature into the video. Then, why not have someone in charge of flagging the questions and answering them throughout the virtual meetup.
It goes further than just keeping the engagement alive, suggests Flavia Bernárdez from the WordPress Alicante community, who believes it also helps keep your speakers more relaxed so they can stay focused on their presentation.
If you’re not able to have someone answering the comments then having a clear agenda and rule for online attendees, such as using the ‘raise hand’ feature to ask a question (for those if using Zoom) is just one of Ivan So’s (WordPress Hong Kong community) helpful tips.
Or, why not go around the virtual “room” and enable everyone to have the chance to ask questions, suggest Anchen Le Roux from the WordPress Pretoria community. Anchen also encourages having virtual prizes to give away and make the online experience more fun.
What’s clear is that using meeting software such as Zoom was considered the best solution for keeping things interactive and interesting by our WordPress meetup organizers.
Webinar and streaming software can often lead to a lack of interaction – plus as Anchen mentions, there’s plenty of information out there in the form of videos and webinar recordings – the WordPress meetups bring a different value, by connecting people.
And, what about planning extra events such as site clinics which is exactly what Alex Sirota from the WordPress Toronto community is planning. This gives members from the community the chance to have some of their WordPress website problems fixed together with other developers or address a challenge someone is facing, together as a group.
One thing’s for sure, just because it’s a virtual event, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be running the event as consistently as you would an in person one. Ivan suggests getting online 5 to 10 minutes before to warm up the speakers and make sure all the technical stuff is running as smoothly as possible.
That’s also echoed by Flavia, who tests the online environment the day before with all the speakers. Don’t be alarmed if on the day something goes wrong – with different internet speeds it’s likely, so make sure to stay calm!
It’s not just the running of the event where consistency is needed – as Jose Freitas from the WordPress Porto community advises – the promotional aspect is still just as important. Communication is key and letting your community know that events will be continuing, just in a different way, will keep your community running until things can go back to normal.
Jose also suggests keeping the same day and time as the original event – to again keep the consistency and ensure those that had marked their calendars for the physical event, will still be able to attend the virtual one.
Expand your community
A final tip from some of our WordPress meetup organizers is to think about how you can expand your reach when running a virtual event. Now your meetup is online, it means more people have the chance to get involved (more people equals more knowledge sharing)!
Jose comments that your online meetup doesn’t need to be limited to just your city/ town – other WordPress community members from your country (or even further field – language permitting!) can take part now there are no physical distances. But, be mindful of the online meeting provider you’re using, mentions Jose, as it’s often limited to a set number of spots.
It’s first important to ensure your community is able to take part in the event. But that doesn’t mean you can’t share the content later. Which is exactly Ivan’s suggestion. Record the meetup and share with people who cannot attend the virtual event, or even share it wider to help other WordPress communities.
Dozens of WordPress meetups are heading online to keep the community active and engaged in these trying times. Hopefully some of the WordPress meetup organizers we’ve spoken to have given you some great tips to get your meetup virtual started.
To quickly recap:
- Ensure your online event is just as interactive as the in person one you had planned. Whether you assign an online moderator or create a rule for asking questions – you can keep things personal even if you’re not in the same room
- Keep consistency. Test your online environment and try and keep to the same date and time you had planned for your in person event
- Increase your reach. An online event is a great opportunity to widen your community’s reach, add new members or have the input of people from a different city or country.
We’re looking forward to seeing many more WordPress meetups take a whole new format over the coming months.