Tuesday Trainings: Supporting Meetup groups during the pandemic

Many members of our community are stressed due to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. In these difficult times, local meetupsMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. can offer a great way to bring members of our community together and to help each other. Since in-person events are not happening these days, more and more WordPress Meetups are going online. In many ways, online meetups are easier to organize than in-person meetups, as they are relatively easy to organize. While many meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. groups across the world have embraced the online meetup format, others are still struggling to hold online events. This post offers tips, tricks, and resources for WordPress meetup organizers worldwide to revitalize their meetup groups during the pandemic with the help of online events. 

Reactivating a meetup group

Many meetup groups have not been able to organize meetups this year, due to the pandemic. A great way to reactivate an inactive group is by merely scheduling a check-in call as a meetup event. It need not even be an actual session – it can just be an informal discussion over a call. If you are an organizer of a group that has not had meetups in a while, try scheduling an online meetup as a casual call. You’d be surprised to see the number of attendees for such an event! Please note: Any meetup event with three or more attendees is considered a meetup, so you need not have tens of attendees to organize a successful meetup event. Our handbook page offers guidance on how to schedule and host an online meetup in Meetup.com. Once the group has a scheduled event, we’ve seen that it really improves the morale of both the organizing team and the group members, and that it really gets things going!

Playing around with Meetup Formats

In our first-ever Tuesday Trainings post, we discussed different online event formats that organizers can try out. The online meetup format offers a lot of possibilities for Meetup organizers. Apart from the suggestions listed in that post, here are a few types of events that you can try with your group: 

  • Organize routine catch-up/check-in calls with the meetup group
    While these calls (with no agenda other than to check-in) can be a great way to reactivate the group, it can also help to provide the kind of social camaraderie that we’ve been missing out on due to COVID-19. Such calls can offer an excellent opportunity to unwind and discuss everything non-work related, and might work well if you schedule them as recurring events (e.g., every third Friday of the month). For example, The WordPress Pune Meetup group has a recurring social call every Friday, that regularly gets a lot of attendees. 
  • Games and fun activities
    You can consider setting some time aside after every meetup to organize some fun activities. It could be anything from collaborating together on an online game, or having a quiz. You could take it a step further to organize an occasional dedicated meetup event (or events) to have these games. While it’s good to have casual games and fun activities for your meetup, please note that the focus your meetup group should still be on WordPress. 🙂 
  • Recurring event series
    Many meetup groups organize recurring event series for their meetup groups. It could be related to specific topics (e.g. Narnia WordPress BlockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. development event series) or interest groups (Narnia Bloggers Meetup series). As an example, The WordPress NYC Meetup Group has a regular Women of WordPress NYC event series, which holds monthly meetups, providing resources and support for women members.

We recently published a blog post to call for ideas on reimagining online events. Even though the blog post talks about online WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., you can find many ideas for meetup events in that post.

Finding a topic and a speaker

Many organizers struggle with finding speakers and topics for their online meetups. Posting surveys for your Meetup group to find topics that your members would like will help a lot with event planning. You can put up a survey to get suggestions from members, OR you could list topics, and ask members to vote. Similarly, setting up a poll in your meetup group to get potential speakers is also a good idea to get a list of people that would like to speak at your meetup group. You could ask newer speakers to start with Lightning talks of 10 minutes or super lightning talks (flash talks) of five minutes. It’s also a great way to engage members in your local community and to promote local talent.

Online meetups eliminate geographical restrictions, so you can now get anyone from any part of the world to speak at your meetup! If your Meetup group members want to listen to a session or a workshop on a particular topic, you could reach out to other WordCamp speakers or experts on that topic and invite them to speak at your local meetup. In case you face difficulty finding a speaker for one of your events, you could simply select a talk from WordPress.tv and organize a watch party!

With all that said, you don’t need an expert speaker to speak on a specific topic. Sometimes, experimenting with different event formats such as a panel discussion or merely an informal discussion based on a particular topic, or setting up a co-working session is a great way to engage with your meetup group members. 

Keeping Meetups going

Reactivating a group by organizing online meetup group is only a part of the journey. Organizers would need put in a little more effort to keep the momentum going. The following tips will be helpful:

  • Onboard more co-organizers: Having more members in your organizing team is a great way to help your meetups stay active. Sometimes, existing members of the organizing team may feel fatigued. Newer organizers can step in, when members of the existing organizing team feel tired, so as to keep meetups going.
  • Work with other meetup groups to organize joint events: If there are other meetup groups in your area, you could work with them to jointly organize events. By joining forces with other groups in your area, you tap into a wider audience, thus expanding your community.
  • Bring your community to social media: Feel free to extend your community beyond your Meetup.com page. You can achieve this by aving a presence for your group in other social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/.. Some meetup groups even have corresponding groups in messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. If you are comfortable creating and maintaining such groups, you can build connections within your community, and facilitate asynchronous discussions even!
  • Community initiatives: As they stay, communities that work together stay together. Doing recurring activities as a community – such as contributor days and hackathons could be very helpful in engaging members of your community. 

Are you looking for more training content? 

Check these out!

The WordPress Diverse Speaker Training group (#WPDiversity) has several workshops to help you in your journey to public speaking at online WordPress events, or for WordPress event organizers to support more diverse speakers at your events: 

Tuesday, July 28 & Tuesday, August 18: Who am I to be speaking? & Finding a topic that people would love to hear  

Wednesday, July 29 & Wednesday, August 19: Creating a great pitch

Thursday, July 30: (new!) What if someone asks me a difficult question?

Thursday, August 20: Workshop: Online Stage Presence

Tuesday, August 25, and Thursday, August 26: Open practice sessions.

#meetups, #tuesdaytrainings