Best practices for virtual meetups

I wanted to share that Open Raleigh has held two successful virtual meetups. The first one we limited to just one project to work out any kinks. People showed up and we were able to get work done through Google Docs to make some progress on our new Campaign Finance Dashboard project.

Then, earlier this week, we held our second meetup with two projects. Sagar, formerly Code for Greensboro, relocated to Wilmington, NC, brought a project called SafeNeighbor to our virtual meetup. We were able to use the breakout rooms to have two projects working at once.

An added benefit from these virtual meetups is the ability for people to join from afar. For example, we had folks from Wilmington and San Francisco join us this week. On our first call, Sabrah from Asheville sat in on our meetup.

Here are a few things for organizers and some best practices we are posting on our meetup events to help have a smoother virtual meetup.

For organizers

  • have an agenda
  • review the CfA code of conduct
  • spend time up front on introductions ^
  • have multiple co-hosts to help out
  • have a plan on how to work virtually, Google Docs, GitHub, etc.

^ - When I do introductions, I go down the list of attendees and call out the next person and also the attendee “on deck” so they are ready to go next. For example, “Jen, we’ll start with you and Tim, you’re on deck.” I will usually start with someone from the leadership team because they are typically ready for their intro rather that starting with a new person.

For attendees

  • download Zoom in advance
  • using your video is encouraged
  • mute your microphone when not speaking
  • use earbuds or a headset to eliminate background noises
  • feel free to use the chat to communicate during the meetup

What else is everyone finding useful for virtual meetups?

1 Like

OpenOakland has had 4 virtual meetups so far. For our first meeting we tried to use breakout rooms for projects but that was too inflexible. We now use Zoom for our introduction, CoC review, announcements, etc. We then use the Slack Call facility for our projects. Since there is a Slack channel for each project this works well. We leave the zoom open for onboarding of new members. (Given that we typically have had over 30 people at our in person meetings I find the project Slack Calls fix the problem with too much conflicting noise we had at the in person meetings! ) We have had about 20 people at our virtual meetings.

1 Like