COVID-19 Status Updates
March 25th, 2020 from Toastmasters International
The deadline for submission of the ALS / DTM under the legacy program has been extended. See the announcement:
March 17th, 2020 from District Director Lana Sweeney
I do hope all of you and your families are well. This is a stressful time for all and unprecedented for our country as well as many around the world. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to impact Toastmasters around the world and we as a District must do our part to help eliminate the spreading of the virus and help to keep everyone safe & healthy.
As a District, our Leadership team met last evening to discuss the options we have going forward. We have made the following decisions in line with the directives from Toastmasters International
The following has come from Toastmasters International over the last 3 days:
- Area, Division, or District events can no longer be conducted in person, on or prior to June 1, 2020.
District 99 Decision: It is the Districts opinion that this should include Club Meetings. Many venues have already closed their doors to public meetings and social gatherings. We should become proactive with regard to these things and the District supports all clubs moving to a virtual meeting platform. We will provide a list options and guidance at https://d99tm.org/covid-19. There are many platforms available. There may be a cost involved, but it should be manageable.
- Each District must conduct its Annual District Council Meeting online, rather than in person, on or prior to June 1, 2020.
District 99 Decision: District 99 will be holding its Annual meeting online. The process will be the same as our last District Executive meeting. This was successful and we see no reason that it would not be again. A date will be announced soon. We will also be trying to coordinate a Candidates Forum before the Annual meeting so members may have an opportunity to hear from our Candidates and ask them questions. Please look forward to an update about this as well.
- Each District Executive Committee is authorized to determine whether they will continue to conduct or cancel Speech Contests for the 2019–2020 contest cycle.
District 99 Decision: The District has decided to cancel all Speech Contests for the 2019-2020 cycle. This was an easy decision to make as it was agreed by the District Management Team members in attendance that our focus should be on helping clubs succeed. We will focus our efforts on helping clubs to be successful meeting virtually rather than burdening all with the efforts to run a contest.
- To provide added support to our members and clubs, the Board of Directors has extended the April renewals due date to April 30, 2020. This extension has the following impacts:
As a club officer, the on-time payment of dues ensures your access to Club Central. If you have not paid your renewal dues by April 1, 2020, you will continue to have access to Club Central through April 30 to allow you to continue supporting your club. To continue your access after April 30, your renewal dues must be paid.
Clubs that meet the April renewal requirement by April 30, 2020 will receive Distinguished Club Program credit for submission of on-time dues renewals for this period.
If your club has not met the April renewal requirement by April 1, 2020, the club will display as unpaid on the Distinguished Performance Reports but will be considered in good standing until April 30, 2020. If your club has not met the renewal requirement by May 1, 2020, it will no longer be considered in good standing.
If your members who have not paid by April 1 are concerned that they will lose access to Base Camp, please know that their access will continue until April 30. Please note that members are not receiving a free month of membership, but rather an option to delay payment of their six-month renewal dues until the end of April without an interruption of benefits.
District 99 2020 Spring Conference is Cancelled
The District has decided to cancel the 2020 Spring Conference. It is with very heavy hearts that we do this. The conference had over 150 registered and 5 Keynotes, 3 Live Entertainers and many exciting events. We will look at how we may salvage parts of the conference that was planned an offer it in a different (virtual) venue.
Everyone will receive a refund if you have registered and paid already. Please be patient as we get through this. It may take a few weeks to do so.
Questions and Answers
Should clubs continue to meet in person?
The district leadership is recommending that all clubs consider virtual meetings as soon as possible. The reality is that venues are closing their doors to public at a rapid pace. The district leadership team strongly suggests that clubs begin to move to a virtual platform before they are forced. We will be publishing resources here to help you get up and running. There are several online clubs around the world. We can benefit from their experience and begin to use it during this time of crisis.
Do Area and Division contests continue as planned?
No! Toastmasters International has issued a directive that no Area / Division / District events be conducted in person from March 14th to June 1st, 2020. There was an option to shift to conducting contests online, but the district leadership team felt that the stress of doing this would be overwhelming in the face of a shift to virtual club meetings.
How long do we operate in virtual mode?
No telling how long. Toastmasters International has provided guidance till June 1st, 2020. After that it will depend on what the state of the world is at that time. There is hope that the International Convention slated for Paris in August will be unaffected. But, that is a situation that Toastmasters International is monitoring and will make a decision closer to the event. For now, it is a go.
With the conference cancelled, how will we elect new district leaders and conduct needed business?
Virtual events will be planned to cover off the annual business meeting. At that meeting, we will cover the normal course of business.
- Reports – Financial, Audit, etc.
- Other Business.
Clubs have participated in such an event previously for the fall meeting where the budget and other matters are presented for voting delegates to vote on. The spring meeting will now be conducted in exactly the same way.
It is possible that other components of the conference may also be staged for members to attend. This could include recognition ceremonies and guest speakers. Watch for announcements on the plans for the District 99 Virtual Spring Conference.
A virtual meeting means having all your members attend a meeting from remote locations. Some clubs employ a hybrid model where some members are remote. But, given the current situation, we will focus on the fully virtual meeting.
What you will need is the following:
- A platform that allows club members to share video / voice / content for enough people to facilitate everyone attending (20+ people).
- Members need a device compatible with the platform that supports video / voice sharing. Typically Windows 10, macOS, Android and iOS devices provide that support.
- Members need a good Internet connection. Online conferencing requires a good internet connection. If you don’t have an adequate connection, then video will be poor quality and sound will also be affected.
Below is a webinar provided by one of the Online clubs in District 47 that will explain how they do virtual meetings.
Online meeting tools are out there. There are several different platforms. The key is to pick one that suits your situation. Below are a couple popular options. We will add more as they become available.
Cisco Webex is an option which has recently upgraded their free account to allow up to 100 participants and no limit on meetings. If you feel you need the more advanced features you will find this to be a pricy upgrade. However, the free account should give you everything your club needs. Webex allows sharing of voice, video and content. You can find WebEx at https://webex.com
The most popular for Toastmasters clubs seems to be Zoom. You can find more information about Zoom at https://zoom.us. The platform will result in a cost of approximately $20 CAN / month ($240 / year). If your club is used to paying for meeting rooms, this is probably a pittance compared to typical meeting room fees. If you want to try it out, you can have up to a 40 minute meeting without paying any fees.
The district uses Microsoft Teams which is part of Microsoft Office 365. This option includes Microsoft Teams which is Microsoft’s answer for providing online collaboration (including meetings). The bonus is that this option provides a place to store files and instant messaging for use by the members. This option has worked for one club where one of the members was a subscriber to Office 365 Business Essentials which costs about $80 CAN per year. You only need one license and you can set up meetings which everyone can attend. office.com
Hangouts (Paid Edition)
Google G Suite Users have access to an edition of Hangouts that can support a much larger number of users. There is a cost for this service. But the basic service is very reasonably priced at about $100 / year. gsuite.google.com
There are a number of other popular, free options, but they tend come with certain limitations.
- WebEx: 100 participants (See above) webex.com
- Skype Group Video Chat: limited to about 50 participants. www.skype.com
- Hangouts (Free Edition): limited to about 25 participants, hangouts.google.com
If you know of any options that has worked for your club, please feel free to leave your comments below and we will update the page to reflect these other options.
Your club needs to do a few things to continue to function in the current situation:
Contact your members to let them know what is going on.
Select an option for conducting meetings (see right column).
Update Toastmasters International – Club Central to show that your meeting venue has changed.
Update your web site so people know where you are meeting.
Update any other social media (Facebook, twitter, meetup, etc.) to let people know where you are meeting.
Make sure no member is left behind. This may be challenging for some of your members, but it can also be a growth experience for them as well.
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
Pursuers: One Clubs Story
Edmonton: March 21st, 2020
When the news of the effects of the pandemic hit the news last week, we knew we needed to act. The executive of the Pursuers club sprung into action. Luckily, they had a tech savvy member who could quickly respond.
The club held it’s first virtual meeting on March 18th with 12 members attending. The first meeting was a bit rough around the edges, but the club managed to make it through and had many of the traditional elements: a business meeting chaired by our president, an educational on using the virtual meeting space, a speech by a member from the Pathways program, table topics, evaluations, quiz master, thought of the day, and time for members to comment on what they thought of the new venue.
Interestingly, several members saw the plus side of virtual meetings. For example, it cuts out the commute time to / from the meeting. Another thought was that it would be cheaper since there was no meeting room cost. At Pursuers, the members buy dinner at the restaurant where they meet. Now, they can relax and eat in the comfort of their homes.
This venue also posed an opportunity for a member of the club that lives in Calgary to pop in and attend the meetings. So, while this is a drastic change, it also poses a great opportunity. Maybe some of our members that dropped out because of the time commitment may be convinced to come back. You never know until you try.
Pursuers used Microsoft Teams which was provided by one of the members who already had a subscription. The members were invited to be guests of a “team” created for the club. This team gives the club a place to meet, chat and exchange files securely.
For information on how the platform was constructed, reach out to Glenn Walker DTM at firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Club Listing
Register your club at this link.