like others were skeptical at first on how Toastmasters could conduct effective online meetings. However, once I have started to attend them, not only have I found them to be a safe and effective forum for us to connect with each other, they are also fun to attend as we learned to use such online features as screen share, virtual background, polling, etc to complement our learning in exciting ways
Angela Ho, Toronto #1 Toastmasters
Every day brings a new question, a new worry, a new fear about the coronavirus pandemic. But it has also brought us an opportunity to test ourselves and expand into new frontiers of communication online. Admittedly I was a little tentative and apprehensive about meeting, but ultimately inspired and proud of us (Toastmasters) all for logging in, supporting and sharing with one another. I can’t wait for next week!
Sean Hatchett, VP Education of Roncesvalles Speakers Circle
A few areas where I’ve experienced success with my clubs through online meetings:
- It allows for members who typically have a busier schedule to attend more often
- It allows for members who live further away to attend more often
- It challenges members to adapt to a new medium
- It opens up opportunities for inter-club collaboration. In area 64, we’ve already had a joint meeting with Athena Toastmasters from Beijing, with another joint meeting with a German club coming up
- Finally, it helps with those who are hesitant to speak in front of a live audience, giving them an easier time to step up and do their ice breakers.
James Shi, Humber Shores Club
I am a 19th century man living in the 21st century when it comes to technology and was skeptical about virtual meetings with my limited skills with technology and no experience in any type of virtual meetings to cope with this new environment. In a matter of 2 to 3 minutes after connecting online I was impressed by the quality of the meeting. I enjoy seeing and socializing with old friends and seeing new members being more at ease with presenting online. We are having fun!
Joe Pacak, High Park Speakers
While we are physical distancing or in self-isolation, we need human contact more than ever. One way to stay connected is through our weekly Toastmaster meeting. We are still able to follow our typical agenda, except we add a focus on how to present in a virtual environment. This is something helpful for members who find themselves now having to present to work managers and colleagues. It’s better to make all your mistakes learning with us instead of in front of your manager and/or coworkers! We have also found it is helping past members who have moved away join us for visits. Try virtual meetings! Virtual meetings are a great way to learn some new skills, and you’ll have some fun at the same time!
Nancy McInnis, President, Phoenix Toronto Toastmasters
Our corporate club, Apo-Toasters, started on-line meetings the first week after the March break. We have approximately 10+ participants on average; more than on site meetings, and today we had a workshop with Francis Nitsch and 69 employees attended!
Virtual Toastmasters meetings are a great way to polish up our video conference call skills. We need to speak slower, be careful to not speak over colleagues, careful with mute and unmute, voice pace, tone, warmth, pitch, so many things to take care of when we are online. Even after we are able to go back on site, we still plan to have 1 meeting per month online in order to practice these online skills a little bit more. Probably business meetings will still remain online for a while even if we go back to our offices.
Anna Deac, VP Public Relations of Apo-Toasters
We started our online meetings right after the lock-down began. Although it was doubtful if we were able to run a quality meeting for our first meeting, attendees were all glad to be able to connect at this difficult time to carry on our Toastmasters activities when the volume of business activities dropped. It is imperative to support each other so we don’t feel isolated while we are in isolation. In fact we have drawn higher online attendance than in-person meetings as it only takes a click to attend!
Toastmasters online meetings offer the opportunity to learn how to present in front of a camera. Using the skills that I learned in Toastmasters online meetings, I have successfully lead design review meetings from my home to connect all parties with our client and contractors in North America. I wish all would find ways to cope with this situation as I have.
Shengli Zhao, President of In-Pace Toastmasters
Last year this time, my club VPE spoke of adopting online zoom and we applauded him for his proposal for his pathways level 3 project. We did do the occasional online meeting using a laptop, but I was not fully onboard at the time. This year during the pandemic, we all embraced it once James showed us how. I believe once members and guests discovery the relevancy of Toastmasters in our lives through vibrant online meetings, they will keep the Toastmasters community flourishing.
Arthur Chin, Toasters @ Lunch.CIBC
The global jump to working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our usual routine and trust us into a world of social distancing. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the largest teleworking experiment, we have been presented with an opportunity to continue our meetings in the virtual world. Not all members have previously embraced being in front of a camera and being constantly under surveillance during a meeting! Initially some members were skeptical whether virtual meetings would be an effective way to host a Toastmasters meeting. Nevertheless, this was our opportunity to make the new normal of toiling from home work for our weekly club meetings. Now we all look forward to reconnecting with our fellow members and guests; making the new norm of social distancing less unpleasant.
Jayshai Daya, Aspiring Royal Toastmasters
As a club we’re all learning to embrace the virtual meeting skills that this time has demanded, and we continue to grow both figuratively and literally with guests now attending for the last couple of weeks.
I believe I can speak on behalf of the members of our club that in a very brief period of a month we’ve come a long way in transitioning the club to an online format, so much so we’ve not only had new guests, but are averaging around 10-12 participants each meeting. With people’s work and personal schedules thrown very out of wack, we’re proud of this consistency and of our members showing up in the midst of all of this adaptation in the real world as well as with the meetings! In the course of our month long journey to virtual, as a club we’ve had an election of a new SAA, a new member’s first Chairing experience, and multiple creative Table Topics sessions.
That said, we’re keen to improve through practice while this continues to remain the format for the foreseeable future.
Matthew Weinstein, Deer Park Toastmasters