by Carolyn Curley, PQD

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” This opening for Charles Dickens book, The Tale of Two Cities flows through my mind. I see and hear how the coronavirus pandemic has altered our expectations for ourselves and our clubs. Many clubs are not meeting. Others are exploring online platforms to maintain a semblance of community. What have you chosen to do? As an education and training organization, what will you learn? Today, there are several aspects I will address including contests, meetings, and support.

Contests will continue!

On March 21, the District Executive Committee (DEC) voted to hold online International and Evaluation speech contests. This vote was held after all Area Directors worked this week to hear from their clubs. Additionally, the DEC voted to purchase Zoom accounts to facilitate multiple area and division contests. The Trio has now adjusted the dates. We have an online support team beginning to form. If you have experience with Zoom and are interested in helping other members learn how to use this program, please let me know (d32pqd@gmail.com). Between now and mid-April, we want our members to learn how to use the program and to participate. 

Contest Timing

Club representatives may move to the next level of Area participation. If clubs have not yet held contests, those contests may be held online or club members may vote for a representative. Club representatives should be selected by April 30. Let Area Directors know if your club will have a representative for the International and Evaluation speech contests. Sound Advice is planning a meeting regarding online contests and roles for April 16th. You are invited to attend online! Area contests will be held May 1 through May 15. Division contests will be held May 16 through May 31. The district contests will be scheduled when we receive further information from Toastmasters International (TI). 

Club meetings

If your club has not chosen to begin meeting online, what next? We have many clubs in the district that are using this opportunity to learn something new – managing an online meeting. That’s also a level 4 project in Pathways. Clubs meeting online are encouraged to update their website to include meeting information and to update their information in Club Central for allowing online participation. Feel free to attend the meetings of other clubs. This may also provide you with confidence to start holding virtual club gatherings for your members. What are you willing to do to remain connected to your fellow club members? How can we support each other during this period of physical separation?

Support

District 32 has members who have already stepped up to serve. They have the expertise with Zoom and other online platforms and are willing to share their expertise with us! Thank you! Stay tuned for dates for online training. Feel free to check out the resources from District 2 (https://d2.toastmastersdistricts.org/) whose leaders graciously shared their resources and work to date. The different Toastmasters Facebook groups have members sharing their expertise and encouragement. Are you willing to face your fears and to try a different mode of communication? We are here to encourage and to support you.

Your Voice!

Our vision for District 32 is to bring people together to share their individual message with the world. This online platform provides you an opportunity to practice sharing your message with the world. I still field questions regarding the deadline for the legacy program. Your voice and concerns need to be heard by TI. Your message, fears, concerns, and impact from current events are diluted when you want someone else to tell TI your needs. Your voice matters. Send your message to TI regarding the June 30, 2020 deadline by contacting TI (http://www.toastmasters.org/about/contact-us) or emailing educationprogram@toastmasters.org

Toastmasters are amazing people. In this time of change and fear, we are here to support you. Let’s provide our safe encouraging online environment for our members as we work to learn and hone new skills. What fears can we help you conquer?