Boosting Toastmasters Productivity with Teleconferencing

Consider the following scenarios:

  • It’s been a busy week at work and personal obligations like attending evening classes and going to a PTA meeting has left little time to meet with the other Club Officers to organise an upcoming Speech Contest.
  • You are scheduled to present a speech from the Competent Communicators Manual and you could really use some feedback. However your mentor and best friend are both out of town.
  • A friend has been asking about Toastmasters. He works offshore and you are experiencing difficulty coordinating schedules to take him to a meeting.

Digital/Internet Teleconferencing has taken communication and collaboration via voice, video, and text to a whole new level. How can toastmasters use teleconferencing to achieve their clubs’ goals and improve their personal development?

Using Internet Teleconferencing to manage Areas & Clubs

Coordinating individual schedules to hold a weekly Club Officers meeting can be challenging. At 4 P.M. everyone just wants to beat the traffic out of Port of Spain and get home before the evening news! One solution is to create a Skype Conversation Group or Google Talk Group to hold weekly Club Officers meetings online. In addition to chats / discussions: files, images and other media can be shared allowing real time collaboration in spite of the distance between Club Officers. With messaging features like Skype Chat members of the conversation can leave notes/reminders which the entire group reads on their own time.

Inviting guests via Skype can assist in growing your Clubs’ membership. Allowing a busy guest to view the meeting remotely can peak their interest, shows your club’s commitment and interest in their development and can ultimately result in a new member. Skype guests may even participate during the meeting by contributing to Table Topics. Someone should be formally assigned to follow up with a Skype guest for feedback on the experience.

Using teleconferencing to develop as a Toastmaster

Enhance your speech delivery by practicing with your mentor, a friend or a family member when they are “unavailable” via Skype Video. You can also use add-ons like Messenger Plus! for Skype to record your speeches as an MP3 or MP4. This allows playback of your speeches. Evaluate them yourself or forward it to your mentor and friends for feedback before you present at a club meeting.

Key Success Factors

  • Preparation Ahead of Dialing In: Do a sound check and make sure you are 100% ready to present the speech.
  • Simplicity: Only use technology you and your peers are comfortable with and which is commonly used by everyone. If you are tech savvy appreciate others may require coaching and deserve your patience.
  • Get consensus: before holding meetings online ensure everyone has “bought-in” to that meeting format. Always provide minutes / records of online meetings for those without access (most services have a print / save option).
  • Follow up: Ensure agreed action items and responsibilities are being treated with just as you would at face-to-face meetings

One of the biggest advantages of using teleconferencing at Toastmasters is it provides practice and familiarity ahead of using video conferencing in a work environment (meetings and interviews) and thereby gives you the confidence to use the technology in the future. So whether you aim to achieve high-performance while serving as a Club Officer or your goal is delivering better speeches using teleconferencing is an option for improved communication and leadership possibilities.

Need support setting up / using teleconferencing tools such as Skype and Messenger Plus! to manage your club? Send a message via the Contacts Page.

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