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June 2024
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Meet the Masters of Online Meetings: Part 1

Members in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, and Kenya have stepped up their online skills to help others.

These members from around the world were nominated for their outstanding contributions in helping others adapt and excel in a virtual environment.


Barbara Nielsen poses in front Toastmasters banner

Barbara Nielsen, DTM

Queensland, Australia


Keeping Members Connected

COVID-19’s effect on many Toastmasters clubs no longer meeting in person led to a sense of isolation and diminished communication among members in our District. It was difficult to see how we would continue to connect in this virtual-only environment.

Barbara Nielsen, DTM, our District 69 Director, took this matter into her own hands and promoted avenues where we may connect once again. Barbara helped clubs gain the skills required to continue meeting and educating members, as well as encouraging leadership development using the core values of Toastmasters: Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence.

Through the use of Zoom, Barbara commenced daily Table Topics sessions in March, open to all members. The participation in this activity has been quite educational, with members becoming comfortable using Zoom, continuing to enhance their Table Topic presentation skills and other roles online, and promoting the connection to clubs and members from all over the globe. Barbara has also created an environment of excitement, motivation, and appeal.

Barbara’s initiative led to a greater understanding and number of clubs now meeting online, members continuing their Pathways education, and showing excitement in learning new skills.

Barbara merits this recognition with 152 participants attending more than 70 sessions held to date. Participants regularly attend from the United States, India, Japan, Ireland, and Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria), including many members who use this opportunity to enhance their English-speaking skills as Toastmasters.

Nominated by Jenny Owens, DTM, Healthy Chatterers club of Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia

Muhammad Habibul Islam smiling in headshot

Muhammad Habibul Islam

Dhaka, Bangladesh


A Silent Server

The name Muhammad Habibul Islam reflects the spirit of enthusiasm, inspiration, dedication, and consistency in the Bangladesh Toastmasters community. Commonly known as “Toastmaster Habib,” he has now earned the nickname “Master of Mastermind Toastmasters.” A silent man and introvert by nature, he often went unnoticed and unrecognized. But those of us lucky enough to work with him know him as a natural leader.

Toastmaster Habib deserves recognition as a Master of Online Meetings. He is not only a master club builder but also a pioneer in conducting online Toastmasters meetings using the highest technology.

His depth of knowledge and professional approach makes every meeting successful. Habib introduced the idea of using FreeToastHost and Zoom for online meetings two years ago when no one in Bangladesh Toastmasters could even imagine its future prospects.

He is not only a mentor but a master trainer who has enriched us with technical knowledge alongside our Toastmasters learning experience. Hats off to Toastmaster Habib on behalf of the Bangladesh Toastmasters community.

Nominated by Rokhsana Akhter Rupee, Independent University Bangladesh Toastmasters Club of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Krista Rowan smiling in headshot photo

Krista Rowan

Ontario, Canada


Managing Online Momentum

Glen Abbey Toastmasters in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, has the best online pandemic-era Toastmasters meetings in District 86. Immediate Past Club President Krista Rowan has led the transformation from in-person to online success, while still keeping the club culture and spirit that led to Glen Abbey’s membership to spill passed capacity in early 2020.

Krista has brought themed meeting music, an online “meeting 101” video, member feedback and encouragement, grammarian and timer virtual backgrounds, streamlined and simplified voting, meeting creativity, uber hilarious Table Topics, and consistent online attendance. She has taken the time to help everyone adapt, be comfortable, and thrive in their online Toastmasters experience, while member engagement and participation continues to thrive as well. Members have adapted so well that two people have completed their Pathways projects virtually.

Through Krista’s leadership, Glen Abbey Toastmasters members have embraced their online meeting momentum to throughout the summer months; something the club hasn’t seen in over a decade.

Behind the scenes, Krista encourages members to try new roles, be creative, and own their club experience, while supporting them in their individual journeys. Krista has managed to create a great online Toastmasters forum that is so user friendly that even the newest members can lead a meeting. It is no doubt that Glen Abbey will come out an even stronger club once we can again meet in person.

Nominated by Sasha-Li Chinloy, Own the Moment Oakville Toastmasters club of Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Robert Kimani in suit jacket and tie smiling for headshot

Robert Kimani

Nairobi, Kenya


Tenacity for Technology

We wish to nominate Robert Kimani of SEMA Toastmasters club in Nairobi, Kenya. Robert has been instrumental in moving the clubs and members of District 114P to online platforms. He has been particularly relentless in offering support to technology-adverse members. Robert, a hotelier by profession, took the initiative to not only learn these skills but also empower District 114 members to embrace the move to online meetings, working round the clock to assist them with challenges

A great resource for his club, Robert helped members prepare for its first online meeting; even developing guidelines that now are adopted to allow us to enjoy orderly and vibrant meetings. One of the key highlights is his ability to infuse the meetings with fun during breaks by playing music. He has been invaluable in maintaining a positive member experience during the transition to online meetings, leading to high member retention during this past renewal period.

Further, in a short period of time, he set up and trained the Sergeant-At-Arms for all five Division conferences in District 114P and managed their technical execution. He also provided technical support for Region 11 mock sessions. The culmination of this was the Toastmasters East Africa Conference 2020 (TEACON 2020), where Robert developed a detailed technical program for the three-day event that formed the backbone of a high-quality experience. The success of these forums not only came down to his great preparation, but also his tenacity in ensuring all role players could fully participate and his ability to roll with the punches by creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere.

Nominated by Monica Oraro, Kwanza Kenya Club of Nairobi, Kenya; Robert Nduati Karanja, SEMA Toastmasters of Nairobi, Kenya; Gladys Muhunyo, Nakuru Toastmasters Club of Nakuru, Kenya

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