President Ran Tao of the A.A.C.T.P Wuhan Toastmasters Club in Wuhan, Hubei, China, was concerned as the coronavirus epidemic spread through the city. Her first thoughts were for her club members: “We cannot stop servicing our members, even in this time. We are all in this together to face the difficulties.” On February 7, 2020, in the midst of the crisis, the club successfully conducted its first online meeting and has never looked back.
Nilormi Das attended an online meeting of the Leeds City Toastmasters Club in Leeds, England, in March and found “the way people connected from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and places was beautiful.”
Over the past months, this devastating pandemic has upended our personal and professional lives in countless ways. As Toastmasters, this is unsettling and isolating. We rely on one another for growth, support, and camaraderie. Communication is at our core; we thrive on it.
However, in these unprecedented times, members, clubs, and Districts have stepped up to find ways to stay connected and provide much-needed support to each other. Tales of courage, determination, and innovation abound as we tread uncharted territory.
Online meetings, speeches, and chats are giving us purpose and reason to smile with one another, even in this difficult time.
While we are most comfortable fully engaged with in-person meetings and interaction, we are finding it is possible to thrive through our technological connections now. Online meetings, speeches, and chats are giving us purpose and reason to smile with one another, even in this difficult time.
Districts all over the world are now planning online District events and conferences for May and June. I recall my first Toastmasters conference. In September 2004, the then-Territorial Council of South Asia, including clubs in India and Sri Lanka, conducted its first conference in Bengaluru, India. I was one of the over 200 members who attended. I was mesmerized!
Meeting likeminded members from across South Asia, attending workshops and talks, participating in a speech contest, and receiving inspiration from the leadership of the Territorial Council was an exhilarating experience. I was hooked!
Toastmasters remains an exhilarating experience for me. It has always been a laboratory for experimenting and learning, and now it gives us an opportunity to become more creative as we engage online together.
Although our meeting spaces are virtual for now, rather than in-person, please keep reaching out, connecting, and supporting one another. It’s how and why we thrive.
Deepak Menon, DTM