The recent Corona Virus Pandemic has impacted on our lives in many ways. One that I will focus on in this post, is related to an alternative strategy for group meetings of Toastmasters – ‘virtual meetings’ = meeting via video conference. I have been keeping up-to-date on the advice from the World Health Organisation and our Australian CoVid 19 Advice and Risk Policies.
We must stop, contain, control, delay and reduce the impact of this virus at every opportunity. Every person has the capacity to contribute, to protect themselves, to protect others, whether in the home, the community, the health care system, the work place or the transport system.
Leaders at all levels and in all walks of life must step forward to bring about this commitment across society.
Toastmasters Club Leaders are currently discussing alternative methods for keeping their clubs meeting without having to travel and meet in public venues. This strategy may well be something for your club to consider. Its more than just selecting a video conferencing tool, it is all about planning for the transition and the facilitation.
Zoom is my video conference tool of choice and my advice will be centered around that tool in the following Transition and Facilitation Tips for Toastmasters.
Tips for Executives: Learning Plan
Step 1: Discuss with your executive team the benefits of offering some of your meetings online and introduce them to Zoom
Step 2: Visit the Zoom.us support website and learn how to access and use Zoom.
Step 3: Setup your own Zoom account and practice with a friend
Step 4: Schedule an Executive meeting in Zoom and try it out with your team.
Tips for Facilitators: Action Plan
Step 5: Practice how to use Zoom on a laptop, tablet or mobile device.
Step 6: Notify your club members of the plan to run virtual meetings.
Step 7: Create a simplified agenda for a meeting (eg one speaker, one evaluator, a few table topics) and invite your club members to attend.
Tips for Toastmaster of the Day: Meeting Plan
Step 8: As the Toastmaster of the Day, access your Zoom space about 30 minutes prior to meeting start time and be ready to meet and greet attendees.
Step 9: Help new users become familiar with the Zoom features (eg audio, video, chat, share screen.)
Step 10: Display the Agenda on screen and explain the process of meeting online. Start the meeting.
Managing Zoom Meeting Strategies
Experiences from being a member of several online Toastmaster Clubs has shown me the benefits of having some specific strategies for managing the Zoom Toastmasters meetings. For example these strategies that can be used before, during and after the online meeting:
Before the meeting begins
- ask participants to join the Zoom event at least 20 minutes prior to start time to enable technical checks
- request a Technical Sergeant-at-Arms to provide an overview of Zoom features for interaction, and provide advice on screen sharing for slides etc.
- request the Toastmaster of the Day to facilitate the meet and greet opportunities
During the meeting
- request the Technical Sergeant-at-Arms to record the meeting
- request the Timer to display visual and audible timing devices
- request a Chat monitor to check on comments and votes in text from participants
- request the Speakers to activate screen sharing if required, prior to starting their speech
After the meeting
- request the VPE to sign up speakers and other roles for the next meeting
- request the Technical Sergeant-at-Arms to send a link to recording to the group
If you are keen to experience a well planned and well delivered Online Toastmaster Club event you will find sample club meeting recordings in You Tube. Here’s one from the Online Presenters Toastmasters YouTube Channel recorded in February 2020:
For more details on how to Facilitate an Online Meeting, please read these posts.
Find out more about what Zoom.us is providing for educators in response to the need for more online meeting opportunities.