District 31 Toastmasters – Online Meetings and COVID-19
March 23, 2020
Due to the evolving impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Board of Directors for Toastmasters International has made the following exception with regards to club meetings, effective immediately and until further notice:
All clubs in all Districts can meet entirely online, as needed.
The well-being of all members is our top priority. The District 31 leadership team encourages all clubs to hold meetings online for the foreseeable future.
Why to keep meeting online
We understand that online meetings may not have the same quality as in-person meetings. However, continuing to meet online, rather than cancelling meetings altogether, is encouraged because it allows clubs to:
- Maintain membership momentum
- Continue advancing current members toward their educational goals
- Facilitate an enjoyable distraction and social outlet while social distancing or quarantining
- Enhance virtual meeting skills at a time when many of us are now working remotely
Let’s stay connected in these challenging times.
Resources from Toastmasters International
- More information Toastmasters International’s response to COVID-19.
- Online Attendance at Toastmasters meetings
- FAQ on Online Attendance at Toastmasters meetings
All Toastmasters meetings held online must include video capability — participants should be visible when speaking, and must be able to see other participants when they speak. For that reason, participants will need access to a computer, tablet, or cell phone with a video camera and a connection capable of live video conferencing.
Online meeting platforms
There are a number of free or low-cost video conferencing platforms your club can use. You should choose what works best for your members. Costs are the responsibility of the club. Corporate clubs may already have access to an internal platform. Here are a few options that may work for your club.
- Webex (FREE for up to 100 participants, unlimited time)
- Skype (FREE for up to 50 participants, unlimited time)
- Zoom (free up to 40 minutes, $15/mo for a plan to go longer)
- Google Hangouts (FREE – up to 10 participants, unlimited time within gmail. More capacity with a Gsuite plan)
- GoToMeeting (free option with very limited participants, $13/mo for broader audience)
- Open the virtual meeting at least 15 minutes early to give people time to log in, sort of technical issues, and socialize, before beginning your meeting on time.
- Designate one person as online host for the meeting, who will mute / unmute participants as it is their turn to present, work with people having technical difficulties, run any meeting polls (ie: best speaker, best table topics).
- It is recommended that only the active speaker / role be unmuted at any given time, to avoid distractions. Designate certain segments of your agenda to unmute all for applause + chatter.
- If anyone is dialing in for audio and using a computer for video, the audio on their computer should be off.
- Ask all participants to “pin” the timer on their screen, so timing cues are visible when they speak. Additionally, timers should use a sound cue — ideally not spoken, but a tonal sound effect.
- Remember to invite recent guests and prospective members to your online meetings! Also, consider inviting former members who had to move or change jobs.
- Update your club website with info about virtual meetings and how guests can join them.
– Trevor Crippen, District 31 Club Growth Director
District 31 Club Growth Director