- What are we supposed to do concerning club meetings going forward?
Your club has the right to decide how they are going to proceed with meetings. A majority of club members may decide to still meet in-person, online or hybrid i.e. a combination of in-person and online. In making this decision, please be guided by your local Government guidelines.
Please be reminded that you are ultimately responsible for your own well-being and should decide whether or not to attend an event where you fear for your own safety.
- If the club has decided to go online, how should we approach it should certain members refuse to meet online?
This is an opportunity for us to use our selling skills to promote the benefits of online meetings to such members. If some members want to save on data costs and are comfortable with the idea, provided it is permitted by your Government, they can meet somewhere and login to an online meeting and take turns to speak during the meeting.
- Most people join Toastmasters because they want to work on their fears of public speaking. How are online meetings going to help them with that?
Online meetings are another platform with an audience of a different type. This is an opportunity for our members to develop their screencraft. It is important to note that the online option is a measure taken by Toastmasters International at the moment to protect your health and safety and that of other members. Once we have overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we will return to in-person meetings.
- Network, data, infrastructure and load shedding is a problem in our community. Are some of our members not going to feel excluded by going online?
Network, data and load shedding is a problem for all of us. Toastmasters International has provided the option of online meetings so that we have alternatives during this period. We are open to any suggestions you may have that will serve our community better in this regard. At the moment, you could divert some of your transport costs and meeting fees on buying data to attend meetings.
- Are online platforms not invading our privacy because one will be doing that from home?
Attending meetings, in-person or virtual are a member’s choice. If the member feels that this is an invasion of privacy, then they have a choice to not attend.
- Some club venues are unable to accommodate the one metre social distancing recommended. How will this be handled?
Again, a majority of your club members need to decide on the way-forward on this. We encourage you to make a decision that prioritises the health and safety of your stakeholders.
- Could you advise how to keep up the energy in an online meeting?
We will be running webinars on how to run an online meeting and included in that training will be ways to make your meeting exciting. For now you can watch a recording of a similar webinar recorded in District 108 in Europe at https://bit.ly/2wEliOg.
- We conducted an online meeting at our club and need to find good ways to do the timing. Any ideas?
You can consider a couple of options, using an online timing device and share your screen or using automated PowerPoint slides to signal time.
- Bearing in mind that some people will not be able to complete their educational goals before the 30 June 2020 deadline, have we received any leeway and/or advice from Toastmasters International World Headquarters?
Yes, please visit https://bit.ly/2vYcl1I for the official communication on this from Toastmasters International
- I have 2 speeches to complete my CC before the end of June. Will I be able to? What can I do if my club is unable to meet?
If your club is unable to continue meeting in-person and online, you may attend other clubs online and complete your speeches there.
- The venue has decided to postpone our meetings due to risk of COVID-19, we are currently exploring online meetings but most members don't have the required tools to hold online meetings. This will clearly have an impact on the club achieving its educational goals. Is Toastmasters International reviewing the requirements for the Distinguished Club Program?
The Board of Directors is considering requests from adjustments necessary during this period but have not communicated anything to this effect. We will communicate any changes as and when they come through from Toastmasters International.
- Are pre-recorded speeches allowed?
No. Protocol 2.0 requires that clubs meet in-person. An exception has been made by the Board of Directors so that clubs may meet online (live) not using pre-recorded speeches. This also applies to the International Speech contest.
- If meetings are suspended for a while, how will fees paid be handled?
You are still expected to pay your Toastmasters International renewals in full. Toastmasters International have however granted an extension of the deadline to renew. You can read more about this at https://bit.ly/2vXXzIg. The local portion of your fees can be discussed and decided on in a business meeting of your club.
- The extension of the renewals period, does that mean that I will still be a member of a club in good standing, even if we haven't paid World Headquarters?
As per the communication at https://bit.ly/2vXXzIg, your club will be considered in good standing only until 30 April 2020.
- I note that the renewal submissions deadline has been extended to 30 April 2020. However, the situation is not going to be resolved before then, more likely at the end of June or July. Is there a chance of a further extension as trying to get people to pay dues when they are not able to attend real meetings is going to be a huge challenge?
We will take direction from Toastmasters International on this, however, more people are excited about all the opportunities that online meetings offer. We do realise that not all members will renew under these circumstances and will keep you posted of any developments in this area.
- How badly is the plummeting Rand going to affect renewals and new member applications?
The plummeting Rand will increase the Rand amount that is required in order to pay for new member registration fees as well as the member subscriptions. This is an opportunity for club officers to market the benefits of Toastmasters more in order for our existing members and prospective members to realise the value that they will get by learning new skills such as holding online meetings. The benefits outweigh the investment. In addition, members should realise that they will save by not having to travel for club meetings as transport costs for an online meeting are minimal or nil.
- Should the Club Executive look at a scenario where members could possibly receive a mini refund for the club expenses portion of their membership fees?
This decision is for each individual club to make. Considering the loss in value of some of our local currencies to the US Dollar we would suggest that we keep member renewals unchanged. Please make sure that the member fee charged at least covers the US$45 charged by Toastmasters International.
- Please assist with words of motivation and encouragement that we could use for our members who were previously renewing but are now asking, "What's the benefit now?" To those to whom Toastmasters is no longer such a priority?
COVID-19 is not only impacting Toastmasters club meetings. It is affecting our work places, social gatherings and so on. As Toastmasters, we have the opportunity to learn how to conduct online meetings. This is a skill that we can easily transfer to other environments such as our workplaces and other social meetings. We can perfect this skill in the Toastmasters environment and then be leaders in our community in these changing times.
- Regarding PR, we usually advertise via social media for our in-person meetings. If meeting online, should we still promote the meeting to guests or should we just focus on sending an invite to our paid members?
It would be great to continue to advertise your events on social media as you may attract potential members that could possibly never have considered your club otherwise. You can still convert these guests into members online or at-least by the time you resume in-person events, you may have a converted member ready to start their journey.
- What happens with the clubs that are in the process of launching with the coronavirus that is spreading so fast and clubs going online. How do we invite guests or new members on board in a situation like this? Since being in a club environment is different from an online meeting?
Clubs that are in the process of being launched or just launched can move to on-line meetings and invite guests digitally to their online meetings.
- Will Toastmasters International or District 74 have a reliable video platform that we can use for online meetings?
Each club is expected to provide for its own platform. You may consider some free options out there like CISCO Webex, FreeConference.com, Google Hangouts Meet, jitsi.org, Skype, Zoom (with a limit of 40 minutes) or paid versions of some of the aforementioned e.g. GoToMeeting. You can listen into a Webinar conducted by our Administration Manager Gaoretelelwe Molebalwa at https://bit.ly/2JmTMaH.The District will provide a Zoom platform for all Area, Division and District contests.
- What is Toastmasters International saying about the contests? Is the expectation that there would still be a World Championship of Public Speaking?
Toastmasters International per the communication at https://bit.ly/3bCNlw9 has directed Districts to cancel in-person events and have them online. At this stage the assumption is that there will be a World Championship Public Speaking in August 2020 until further notice.
- What are we supposed to do concerning contests going forward?
Further to the communication from Toastmasters International at https://bit.ly/2WRk6S2, the District 74 Executive Committee met on Sunday, 22 March 2020 and voted to only continue with the International Speech Contest at Area, Division and District level for this 2019-20 Toastmasters year. The contests at Area, Division and District level will be held online on Zoom.Just as with club meetings, your club can decide whether to have the contest in-person or online.
- Are there any guidelines on how we will manage online contests going forward? Will training be provided?
Some guidelines from Toastmasters International are available at https://bit.ly/2WRk6S2. Training will be provided to your Area and Division leaders together to the support teams. We will also extend the training and recording of these sessions to you our members so that you are prepared.
- How can we handle contests where contestants have to be isolated from the main meeting?
There are a few options that can handle virtual break-away rooms. For your Area, Division and District contests, we will be using this functionality on the Zoom platform. This will be covered in the training provided by the District.
- Are we going to reorganise RoyalCon this year?
No - RoyalCon 2020 has been cancelled.
- Are we able to please have the RoyalCon in October as an OctoberCon instead of a MayCon?
We used to have an OctoberCon in the past, so we can cancel MayCon but have OctoberCon instead as a way of fellowship. And perhaps we could then have the 3 contests: Evaluation, Table Topics and Humorous at OctoberCon. Of course District elections and International speech contests will have already taken place earlier online.Unfortunately this falls outside of the prescription from Toastmasters International. Districts may hold one (1) annual conference between the 15 March and 1 June of every year. The October conferences are now prohibited so this option can not be considered at this stage.
- Has the District considered the option of postponing RoyalCon to 2021 so as not to lose the money that has already been paid?
We will not postpone RoyalCon 2020 but we may use the same venue for the 2021 Conference or for the Induction Dinner to ensure that minimum loss is sustained by the District. We are in negotiation with the hotel and will let all the delegates know how and when the refunds will be paid back to the members.
- If we cancel the event completely, where will the District get the funds from to refund members?
We will do our best to negotiate the best deal for our members in the current situation. We will also work together with the Toastmasters International Finance Team to ensure that we manage this in the best possible way and that every member is refunded.
- When can we expect a refund for the conference?
We are in negotiation with the hotel and will let all the delegates know how and when the refunds will be paid back to the members.
- Are you able to facilitate refunds for accommodation bookings already made at the hotel?
Refunds for accommodation will be the responsibility of the individuals.
- What will happen regarding the Award (Hall of Fame) nominations e.g. Toastmaster of the Year, Area Director of the Year?
The Hall of Fame will be moved to the Induction dinner. Nominations will remain open, so please continue to send through your nominations at http://tiny.cc/D74HoF.
- How can we help as Toastmasters to fight this pandemic?
Our members must take the necessary precautions and follow the guidelines from the World Health Organisation, local Government and other health professionals.
- Not everyone is informed to the same level about how to prevent spread of the disease. Can we have a video presentation/handbook demonstrating the points?
We are not in a position to give advice regarding the disease specifically as we are not an authorised health institution. We encourage you to follow the advice of your local Government or the World Health Organisation.
You can find the link for the D74 COVID-19 & RoyalCon Live Panel Discussion at https://bit.ly/3dHDib9.
More answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at https://bit.ly/2RcdR83. Should you have more questions, feel free to submit them via our Administration Manager on email firstname.lastname@example.org.