James Shi, Area 64 Director notes that “When a door closes, a window opens.” The current COVID19 lockdown has prevented clubs from meeting in person, yet many quickly adapted to online meetings with fantastic results. During James’ initial research on how to conduct online meetings, he joined an online club called Buddie Toastmasters. By chance, Roc, the president of Athena Toastmasters from Beijing, was searching for the same answer for his club. They both realized how online meetings can bridge geographical boundaries and welcomed the idea of a joint meeting.
After several planning meetings involving execs from both clubs, they finalized a time and meeting role distribution. The agenda included one speaker from each club, with an evaluator from the opposite club. The whole meeting was conducted in English as the members of Athena toastmasters were fluent in English. With 12 hours of the time difference, both clubs shifted their meeting time to accommodate.
The meeting attracted many guests from other clubs around China. At its peak, over 100 people attended on zoom at the same time. James actively participated in their WeChat (China’s version of Whatsapp) afterward and many guests expressed interest in conducting another joint meeting in the future.
After the meeting, James conducted informal surveys on both clubs and received very positive feedback. “COVID19 may have stopped our in-person meetings, but it fuelled our desire to connect. Through online meetings, we’ve found new ways to hone our skills and new global partners to learn from. I’m looking forward to more exciting joint meetings in the future.“
James notes: “At Area G64 of District 60, we are expanding this “joint-meeting” format to add more values to our current membership, and to attract new members.” Following the initial success, Roncesvalles Speakers Circle, another G64 club, has hosted their own joint meeting with Bonn International Toastmasters from Germany.