Why You Need Toastmasters During the COVID Pandemic
“May you live in interesting times.”
The old proverb about interesting times being both a blessing and a curse definitely rings true in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us very interesting times indeed, upending all of our expectations and plans for how we usually organize our lives. Our Toastmasters meetings are no exception - we have had to suspend the in-person meetings that we have enjoyed for over 60 years at First Oakville Toastmasters and move our meetings online for the first time.
Some people have wondered what is the value of attending an online Toastmasters meeting, especially since the organization has historically been focused on presenting speeches before an in-person audience. A quick look at one of our online meetings will show you why they are in fact more useful than ever at this time.
Practice Virtual Meetings
Our online Toastmasters meetings are a place to practice virtual meeting skills in a supportive environment. These are skills that have never been more in demand. Ever since March, people of practically every industry have had to adapt to meeting by video. There has certainly been a learning curve - for awhile, many of us turned into the notorious BBC man:
This initial awkwardness has underscored the need for us to get organized in our virtual meetings, and that is exactly what First Oakville Toastmasters has been doing. We have adapted our meetings to Zoom rapidly and successfully, bringing our well-structured format to the internet.
Want to practice organizing discussions and taking questions from people who may not always be visible on camera? FOTM members are using several strategies to make sure everyone gets heard, and which you can apply to your own meetings. Need to practice for a presentation that needs to be given to an important group of clients? Our speaking opportunities will help you address a gallery of participants confidently and make effective eye contact with your camera. Feeling generally awkward talking in front of a camera? We have plenty of chances to practice impromptu speaking or converse with others in our meetings. There are more opportunities to learn than you’d expect.
Stay Connected for Your Mental Health
Even introverts are struggling with loneliness these days, and there’s no better way to fight isolation than by joining a community of supportive people with shared interests. That is what we are doing at FOTM; we aren’t just here to practice speaking, we come together to socialize, discuss our interests and make connections.
This is the major reason why our attendance stayed high from the start of the COVID pandemic - we needed to stay connected and found reassurance in being there for one another. Plus, our club is fortunate to have a diverse group of members of various ages, walks of life, and experience levels, making FOTM a great place to find new people with similar interests.
New Chances to Network
The diversity of our club members also means that there are people from a variety of professions here. This makes FOTM an excellent place to network and make career connections, all while practicing important communication skills!
Sadly, the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown have left several of us looking for new career opportunities. With our online meetings, we at FOTM are working to keep our club a place where people can build new skills and find new contacts. Because of this, we have continued to attract new members since moving online and have offered several resources on effective virtual meeting strategies.
We hope you will join one of our Thursday evening meetings and explore what we can offer during this time of pandemic and beyond. Guests can visit up to three meetings without paying for a membership. We are here to help you and one another practice online communication skills, network for new opportunities, build social connections, and much more. Please contact our Vice-President of membership, Vishal Kapoor, to learn how you can get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We may be going through “interesting times,” but that doesn’t mean they have to be bad times. The COVID-19 pandemic may seem like a curse for all the difficulties it has brought, but at FOTM, the new learning experiences we have found have been an unexpected blessing.