These members from around the world were nominated for their outstanding contributions in helping others adapt and excel in a virtual environment. This is part of a recurring series.
British Columbia, Canada
Pioneer of Online Meetings
We hadn't yet heard of COVID-19 back in May 2019, but James, an avid traveler, saw that there was a potential niche in getting fellow Toastmasters in Central Europe to join his club's meetings for a flash event online. Initially, there were six to eight attendees for about 10 months. Some people would have reconsidered their strategy, but not James. He believed in it, and that tenacity endeared him to his new-found Polish and German friends. So much so, that people started to speak about this meeting, which takes place online. A Facebook group was created, and every event got its own page.
Then, in 2020, COVID-19 came, and members started to seek meeting online while on lockdown. That's when I was introduced to this novel approach of holding a club meeting online. There was James, surrounded by a harem of Polish, Ukrainian, and Canadian girls! All of them had to say something kind about him and that was for a reason.
He is the trailblazer of online meetings at Toastmasters and has risen to the challenge of making the distance between Europe and the west coast of Canada simply evaporate with online Toastmasters meetings.
He has personified Toastmasters’ core values of integrity, respect, service, and excellence by keeping his door open to everyone. James is a beacon that shines bright in District 21 thanks to his tireless effort to seek excellence in everything he does. He adds his own touch of professionalism by religiously editing the video of each meeting and uploading it to the group for others to see what they have missed.
He has been an indefatigable, one-man army who has had continued belief in the cause of bringing Toastmasters together. James stands as a pillar of the Salt Spring Toastmasters Club and has taken up further responsibility as an Area Director in addition to being the Vice President Public Relations of the club!
I speak for all our club members and guests alike in recommending him for recognition in view of his efforts thus far, and his ceaseless and selfless commitment to keep working to help Toastmasters across the globe achieve their goals.
The bottom line is that James is an exemplary leader who proves it all with actions and soft-spoken humility, imaginative innovation, and inspiring interventions.
Nominated by Prince Motiani, DTM, of Salt Spring Toastmasters Club in British Columbia, Canada.
Janell Carla Williams, DTM
California, United States
Preparation and Professionalism
My nominee for the Masters of Online Meetings is our Vice President Public Relations Janell Carla Williams, DTM. Janell has been doing an amazing job with the clubs, the Division, and District 1, from the very beginning of this sudden virtual format. C.I.T.I.E.S. Club found out that we would not be able to meet at our regular location, so Janell and a few other members were able to set up and get us prepared for an online meeting the next day.
I notified all club members, and we were up and running, on time, Saturday morning. She has been instrumental in most, if not all, of the Division F contests. And she has assisted others whenever needed.
Janell was also a key person in the preparation and running of the District 1 Spring Conference and Contests. Currently she is still our virtual host for C.I.T.I.E.S., for regular and additional events, such as workshops and executive meetings.
Janell is preparing to train our members in various areas of Zoom to operate and control the meetings to keep every meeting running professionally and as smoothly as possible. And she throws in a few extras to enhance the meetings a bit more. All visitors have commented and complimented on the fantastic job that Janell is doing in the club and throughout the District. We could not have done it with such professionalism without her.
Nominated by Terrell Harrison, DTM, Immediate Past President and Club Treasurer of C.I.T.I.E.S. Toastmasters in San Pedro, California.
Lee Tze Yang
Our Super Zoom Master
I would like to nominate Lee Tze Yang, Club President of Hornbill City Toastmasters Club in Malaysia, as a Master of Online Meetings. Tze Yang quickly embraced virtual meetings and equipped himself with the knowledge and expertise to run meetings effectively on Zoom. He was the Zoom Master for Division D, District 87 online speech contests. He did a lot of early preparation by assisting each contestant with an audio and video check, hosted a dry run, and then managed the actual contest in such a professional way that anxiety of the contestants and other role players was minimized. He performed this task so well that he was invited to be Zoom host for the District 87 online speech contests. Tze Yang is now producing written guides and hosting training sessions for the benefit of all Toastmasters on hosting effective meetings for members of our District.
Tze Yang ensures that meeting registration is set up early and he is always the first person online to assist members and guests to enter the Zoom meeting room. He patiently guides all of us with new procedures such as renaming ourselves, which is of utmost importance in online speech contests. He flawlessly spotlights speakers, ensures they are able to see the timer, and takes photos of each session.
Migrating to an online environment has proven challenging; but with our spectacular Zoom host, our club members feel stress-free and we are able to enjoy meetings fully. Members and guests alike value the dedication of our super Zoom Master.
Nominated by Donna Barclay Tan, DTM, of Hornbill City Toastmasters club in Sarawak, Malaysia.
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
A Leader Who Listens
I nominate Hertfordshire Speakers Vice President Education Philip Carey as a Master of Online Meetings, because he has been doing such an amazing job since our club transitioned to Zoom online meetings. He has shown vision, creativity, and leadership.
Philip had the vision to survey the views of club members about moving to online well ahead of lockdown. Within weeks, when the pandemic forced our hands, we were able to transition seamlessly and successfully to online meetings, because he had the buy-in from members.
He quickly embraced the use of the Zoom platform and trained himself and others to be Zoom Masters. Admirably, he assisted neighboring clubs to transition to online meetings by providing technical assistance and training. Philip introduced a small online planning and review team to ensure that the quality of each meeting is high, meetings are fun, and creative ideas from guests are welcomed.
Philip listened and agreed to reduce the length of online meetings from 2 hours to 1.5 hours or less to compensate for cognitive load and avoid people leaving before the end of the meeting. At his suggestion, the Sergeant at Arms starts the meeting with a briefing on Zoom etiquette, chat monitors greet guests and answer questions, and certificates and ribbons are displayed on the screen to recognize Best Speakers and Evaluators.
On May 25, Phil hosted a memorable online event for club member Bob Ferguson, DTM, who celebrated 25 years as a Toastmaster. It was doubly special as Bob is the co-founder of our club, Hertfordshire Speakers, and remains an active member.
In summary, Philip Carey has led his club members to embrace the change to online meetings and our club continues to thrive during these difficult times.
Nominated by Elizabeth Jordan, DTM, is Public Relations Manager for District 71 and a member of Hertfordshire Speakers Club in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.