This post is reproduced from Lucy Brooks' personal blog, Cancer Diary. She wrote it at the end of 2020.
Followers of my blog will know that since I started posting in early 2018 I have been blown every which way by life and fate. I became a new grandmother, and moved from cancer patient to carer, from carer to bereaved widow and a new life alone. And more recently, keen Toastmaster. No, I don’t dress up in a red coat and announce the after-dinner speaker. I joined Worthing Speakers, part of Toastmasters International.
And if that wasn’t enough, then along came Covid to keep us all at home. But rather than mope, our club, along with almost every other of the thousands of speaking clubs in Toastmasters, went online – and thrived in the new environment. But eventually my club will go back to its home in a seafront hotel in Worthing. It will be great to see people, to hug and shake hands again (a key part of the Toastmaster etiquette), have a chat and a laugh with friends after the meeting. But I enjoy the online environment too.
So to address this, I have teamed up with three other Toastmasters to create a new, always online, club. It’s called Sussex Online Speakers and we launched in January 2021.
Why online public speaking clubs are here to stay.
Toastmasters International is an organisation consisting of thousands of clubs based in dozens of countries, all dedicated to improving its members’ speaking, communication, and leadership skills.
Traditionally, these clubs have been meeting in hotels and halls throughout the world, but when Covid19 came, most of them moved, promptly and efficiently, to an online environment.
While many members of Toastmasters are hoping to move back to in-person meetings – indeed in some countries, they already have – there is definitely a case now for some Toastmasters meetings to remain online.
Speaking online is an important part of business life, especially now. And even when the pandemic is over, many businesses will not revert to so many in-person meetings. Meetings, workshops, and training can be delivered very well online, to thousands of people at a time, or with just a few people present. Those delivering training or presenting at meetings need different skills for online meetings.
It is incredibly easy (barring time-zone differences) to attend meetings that would normally involve many hours and days of travel.
It is much easier to attend meetings from a home office or sofa: no need to go out on a cold, rainy, dark night.
It is possible to welcome fellow Toastmasters from all over the world.
Enter Sussex Online Speakers, a new club launched in January 2021. Despite its name, the club will be welcoming prospective members from all over the country and the globe.
Initially led by Amy Jones, then Area Director for West Sussex in the UK, the core committee consisted of Tom Gray, then Area H55 director – East Sussex, and Teresa Cattermole, his assistant director, along with Lucy Brooks, committee member at Worthing Speakers and keen supporter of online speaking.
The aim is to gain 17 plus members by June 2021. We believe we can do this. You do not have to live or work in Sussex to join. Your link with our beautiful county can be as tenuous as you like (you know me). Or maybe you have no link at all, other than a desire to meet new people. Whatever, all are welcome.
What does membership give you?
You can launch on a Toastmasters educational pathway to get you started with boosting your confidence in public speaking and online communication.
You can take on roles at meetings – with the aim of running each meeting efficiently.
You can give your first speeches and receive very valuable and positive feedback from fellow members, including a detailed evaluation by an experienced Toastmaster.
You will make new online friends.