The picture below is from the last in-person WordPress Meet up in Virginia Beach. At the time, the concern was more about space and the food that would be available for the attendees. Months later, everything has changed. The pandemic has led to changes in work and social lives.
However, for local WordPress Meetups, this hasn’t led to a decrease in attendance. In fact, it is an opportunity for more people to attend. WordPress enthusiasts are still looking for communities where they can find support and friendly environments to share their concerns or work. What opportunities do online WordPress Meetups provide?
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Attendees from Different Communities
One of the main advantages of having an online video meeting is the opportunity to have attendees from locations that may be further away. Typically, meetups involve attendees who live within minutes of the meetup location. With the use of online conferencing, attendees who live hours away can easily attend and participate with the group. Users who cannot typically attend because of scheduling conflicts or lack of transportation also benefit from the online model.
Flexible Group Interactions
For in-person meetings, group discussions are typically singular and presentations are limited to a single location. Online conferencing allows the meetup organizers to have single point presentations where the screen can be shared with everyone. With the use of group chat applications like Slack, discussions can also be held while the meetings are taking place, and also after the meetup is completed. This allows for a flexible group dynamic that can lead to better communication and information sharing.
Some video conferencing software also includes the option for close captioning. This allows for those with hearing impairments to see what the presenters are saying. While the option is not perfect, it yet another advantage for online meetups.
Archived Sessions and File Sharing
Many local meetups typically use a slideshow presentation that is then shared with the attendees after the completion of the meetup. Depending on the video conferencing application used, the conference itself can be recorded in its entirety. This can be useful to capture meetup conversations and allow people to see the meetup though they were not able to attend. Note: Keep in mind that some attendees may object to being recorded, so always announce your recording intentions.
The online environment also makes it easier to exchange files and links during the meetup session.
WordPress Meetups provide an incredible opportunity to network, solve problems, and create friendships. The online meetings expand your audience and give you flexible ways to communicate. In the long run, online meetings may continue and become a part of the in-person meetups.
No matter the medium, it is always important to remember that the evolution of the video conferencing culture still requires that you create relationships and clearly communicate with your attendees. Maintaining regular meetups, solving problems, creating opportunities, and sharing your experiences is what will keep your attendees coming back.
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I have been actively working with local community groups and events since 2004. It’s been a learning experience and using WordPress (other than for work) has given me the ability to quickly launch websites to easily share information for our events. I look forward to opportunities that help to expand my knowledge of using and managing WordPress.
Arnel Custodio | Technical Writer at InMotion Hosting and active WordPress contributor/volunteer.