Organizing Virtual Meetups

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WordPress events are online. Please refer to our online events handbook.

For communities COVID-19 has been more effectively contained, returning to hosting an in-person meetupMeetup All local/regional gatherings that are officially a part of the WordPress world but are not WordCamps are organized through https://www.meetup.com/. A meetup is typically a chance for local WordPress users to get together and share new ideas and seek help from one another. Searching for ‘WordPress’ on meetup.com will help you find options in your area. event is possible, with caution, using the resources provided. If you plan to move forward with an in-person meetup, you must use the provided checklist.

Technology Resources for Meetup Organizers for virtual events

The WordPress chapter meetup program has always emphasized the importance of in-person events over online events, but if there is any evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in your area, we encourage organizing online events for the next few months.

This page lists a few resources to hold online meetings in an attempt to prevent or at least delay further COVID-19 infections in local communities. See also New recommendations for event organizers in light of COVID-19 (March 11, 2020) 

Big “Thank you” to Hugh Lashbrooke and other community members for sharing their thoughts earlier. Check out the post for more details. 

Equipment for hosting a virtual event Equipment for hosting a virtual event

  • Camera(s): Usually your computer’s built-in camera will work just fine.
  • Headphones, microphone: Your computer’s built-in speakers and microphone will suffice, but an external headset will help with clarity.
  • Meeting/webinar/streaming software. More on that below!

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Meetup.com Online Events Meetup.com Online Events

Meetup.com has made changes to their event interface in light of their recommendations to take meetups online. Under the location box, you can now designate a meetup as an online event and provide a video URLURL A specific web address of a website or web page on the Internet, such as a website’s URL www.wordpress.org for your attendees to connect with your video.

Screenshot of the online event designation feature of meetup.com.

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Free Virtual Event Hosting Tools Free Virtual Event Hosting Tools

Requirements/Features needed for a presenter talk / event. 

  • One URL to join and attend the the event
  • Chat Window for Q & A and inter-attendee chatter 
  • Screen sharing / slide-share / video watching – capabilities
  • Enough space for expected audience
  • Enough time for the expected length of the event. 

Zoom – Video conferencing App. 

  • Cost: free, with different levels of paid accounts; Pro starts at $14.99/month
  • Free: 100 attendees for 40 minutes and unlimited number of meetings.
  • Recording: Yes 
  • Organizer controls of who can share screens: Yes

Note: If you use Zoom for public meetings, make sure that screen- sharing is enabled for hosts only. Once you make presenters co-hosts, they can share their screens, too. (See also Zoom video on this page)

Google Meet 

  • Cost: Free for anyone with a Google Account.
  • 100 users can attend a single meeting, with no cap on meeting time through September 30, 2020. After that free meetings will be restricted to 60 minutes.
  • Recording: Available for G-Suite customers, not available for regular Google accounts.
  • Google meet would be an ideal platform of choice for your meetup, if one of your organizers has a G-Suite account and can facilitate meetings. Through September 30, 2020, all G Suite customers can use advanced Hangouts Meet features, like larger meetings (up to 250 participants), live streaming, and recording. — Announcement by Google. 

YouTube Live 

If you have access to a YouTube channel, you can enable live stream there as well. It’s a little bit of work to set-up the channel, and go through the verification process. 

PGi 

  • Video and web conferencing solution
  • Cost: Different pricing levels, with free unlimited meetings for up to 125 Participants
  • Recording: Yes

Facebook Live

BeLive.tv 

  • Live-streaming Tool integrates also with YouTube Live or Facebook Live
  • Free: max 2 people on screen, 3 events per month, 5 assets for overlay or theme.
  • Recording: no. 

Jitsi Meet– open-source Video conferencing platform

  • Free
  • Use all day, every day. 🙂

Streamyard – web tool for making Live streams on Youtube

  • Cost: Free and Basic account from 25$ / month.
  • Recording: Yes. You can download Video and Audio.
  • You can do post-production right in your browser: 6 participants, live chat, branding, and show live comments.
  • You can connect to Youtube Live, Facebook Live, and Linkedin.
  • Very easy to use.

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Tips and Ideas from WordPress Community Organizers Tips and Ideas from WordPress Community Organizers

This section was compiled from the comments of WordPress Community organizers. So much wisdom! 

Online Meetup Formats Online Meetup Formats

  • Birds of a Feather – Breakout rooms for particular topics over lunch
  • Interactive Educational – Speaker presents for 20 minutes (chat silent)  / Live Q & A for 20 min (Free Zoom meeting) 
  • Round Robin – Topic is voted on ahead of time. Meetup members get in a video call. Moderator guides the meeting, and makes sure everyone is heard who wants to be heard. Three sub topics each discussed for 10 minutes / Rest of the time announcements and news. 
  • Asynchronous discussion on web forum (Discourse, bbPressbbPress Free, open source software built on top of WordPress for easily creating forums on sites. https://bbpress.org., etc. ) 
  • HelpDesk Hours online – A group of volunteers are available for meetup members to help with their website 

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Tips for Larger Events Tips for Larger Events

  • A website or page with communication zones, e.g. workshop rooms, speaker rooms, watercooler, etc.
  • Each room should be easy to join/leave whenever an attendee likes.
  • Event-specific rooms should be moderated, e.g. participants have to be muted during the presentations, voice/chat communication should happen at the end, some way to “raise a hand” to ask a question can be implemented in the chat.
  • The speaker/presenter should not be distracted by chat/questions during a talk, so a moderator (or moderators) should handle participants muting, helping with tech issues, tackling the chat communications, and managing Q&A discussions.
  • ‘Info desk’ and ‘Tech support’ could be implemented in the chat.
  • There could be an option to start “breakout rooms” via ad-hoc calls for 1-on-1 or mini-group communications.
  • Speakers could have personal video rooms where people can chat after the session.
  • Events in Virtual Reality could be fun and interesting, like this example of a Hallway Track in VR.

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Live Audience Engagement / Keeping Attention  Live Audience Engagement / Keeping Attention 

  • Surveys/polls during talks (speakers usually ask questions to direct talks in certain directions).
  • Q & A process (perhaps votable so more popular questions rises to the top). Slido is one example of this.
  • Share slides and materials right after (or before) in a central location. 
  • Chat window next to the lives tream or within the livestream tool (YouTube Live, Zoom etc) 
  • Alternative way to collect Question is via Twitter and event Hashtag 
  • All participants attend via Video and Audio (ie: Brady Bunch view in Zoom). Only for smaller groups. (Meetup or Unconference format)
  • Especially encouraging Q&A to be on camera rather than through the chat.

Comments to take to heart:

  • “As someone who attends a livestream event every week, I was surprised at how hard it is to manage the concurrent chat as the organizer.”
  • “Even with my experience of having just one talk from one person, I would like to add for consideration: Have someone else monitoring the chat. It’s too much to read it and deliver content at the same time.
  • “Any kind of chat-type interface used alongside the livestream, would need to be some kind of moderator training.”

The Community Managers Hub (CMXHub) published a long post with resources and tips: A Comprehensive List of Tips, Tools, and Examples for Event Organizers During the Coronavirus Outbreak (3/9/2020)

Changelog

  • Updated 6/18/20
    Google Meet features
  • Updated 3/24/20
    • Added screenshot and instructions for creating virtual meetups on Meetup.com
    • Added screenshot to Zoom setting to restrict screen sharing to hosts only
  • Updated 3/20/20
  • Updated 3/13/20
    • added Meet.Jitsi video conferencing link,
    • added Changlog section
    • fixed some typos
    • fixed some formatting
  • Created: 3/12/20

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