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Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many meetupMeetupMeetup 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. organizers are struggling to keep their meetup group active. This handbook page offers tips, tricks, and resources for WordPress meetup organizers worldwide to revitalize their meetup groups during the pandemic with the help of online events.
Many groups have not had a chance to meet due to the pandemic. A great way to reactivate an inactive group is by merely scheduling a check-in call as an online 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 meetupsMeetupMeetup 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. 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! 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!
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 meetups have always been socially focused and you find yourself at a loss to help people stay connected when they would ordinarily be just chatting in person make things a little more formal. If your meetups are always structured around a speaker and Q&A try something less structured. It might also help to shake things up if you are unable to find a topic for an upcoming session. A few ideas that you can try out virtually:
Help Desk: Make use of Zoom’s ability to move people into rooms and match up people who need support with those who can give support
Birds of a Feather: Making use of Zoom’s room features again, you can give people a few choices of what they’d like to talk about and pair them with folx interested in the same topic for an unconference style group of conversations. Ask each group to select a time keeper to keep them on schedule, a moderator to ensure everyone is being given a chance to talk, and a note taker to relay interesting information back to the broader group.
Contributor Sprint: Instead of learning something for yourselves, pick a WordPress team you’d like to learn more about and contribute to. Reach out to team reps for guidance on what you can do to contribute to and support the team.
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 BlockBlockBlock 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.
Reactivating a group by organizing an 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:
Check the clock: For your future meetups, try finding out if there is a day of the week or a time of the day that works better for your community. Most meetup groups meet “after work” in the evening hours. For many that time of day is time that is taken up by other commitments like family, work, friends, and giving ones self a much needed break. Scheduling a meetup at some other time (such as a a morning coffee meetup or a lunch meetup for example) could make things easier for your group
Team up: Team up with other meetup organizers you know and become sister meetups. Since we’re not limited by physical space right now you can build community bonds and connections in other locals. Let your community share their expertise with others and they can share their expertise with your meetup in return. We’re already seeing this with groups that are semi-local to one another but you could make this work anywhere that you can make a schedule work.
Bring your community to the 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 SlackSlackSlack 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!
We still don’t know when things will get back to normal and when it will be the same to meet in person again, but that day will come for sure! Please keep in mind that members of your group are also exhausted and fatigued. You may not get instant results, but as you keep organizing events as part of your group, you will see your group members slowly being active. It will also help them stay prepared as we move back to in-person events in future.