As Toastmasters clubs driven online by COVID-19 resume in person meetings, many will be thinking about how to continue to invite online participation. There are many good reasons for operating in a hybrid format, but club leaders need to be aware of the pitfalls and the investment in equipment that may be necessary.
This video is from a July 25, 2020 workshop on running meetings with both online and offline attendance — the technical and leadership challenges of doing it right. Below, we’ve also shared some specific equipment recommendations related to improving the audio quality for these meetings, which is one of the tricky parts.
Presenters and panel participants included:
- Lois Margolin
- Graham Cairns
- Birgit Starmanns
- Michael Alexander
- Moira O’Brien
Host: Nik Lakhani, President, Online Presenters
Panel Moderator: David F. Carr
From a leadership standpoint, think about how you will include local and remote participants equally.
For technology setup, the most important thing is ensuring audio quality. Even if the video quality is wonderful, not being able to hear a speaker undermines the whole point of a Toastmasters meeting.
For video, best practice is to have feeds from 2 different cameras in the room, one pointed toward the speaking area and the other toward the audience. The image above (which you can see better by downloading Moira’s slides) will give you an idea of how that works.
To make it all work, your club should have (or train) at least a couple of people who can cover the room setup and tech setup details for every meeting. Possibly “Zoom master” or “tech master” could be a rotating role, if you have a few people who can handle it.
Clubs may have to adjust this shopping list to what they can reasonably do within their budget. During the program, Graham Cairns suggested clubs might start out with whatever equipment individual members are willing to share and then phase in purchases of club-owned equivalents.
A couple of key purchases Moira O’Brien recommended are a compact wireless microphone and a webcam that can be mounded on a tripod. Here are Amazon links and prices for those items.
Rode Wireless Go Premium Pack with Lavalier Go and SC4 – $339 USD
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, Widescreen Video Calling and Recording, 1080p Camera, Desktop or Laptop Webcam $125.00 USD
Other equipment that is required may vary depending on your meeting space, for example whether there is a speaker system you can tap into. If not, purchasing a wired or wireless speaker might also be necessary. Some spaces may have adequate lighting, while for others you might need to bring in additional lighting.
Less expensive options than those cited here may work for you, including tech based on smart phone apps.
During the discussion later in the meeting, one of our guests Sunny Fridge mentioned a different microphone that worked for one of her clubs:
$88 currently backordered from https://loveheymic.com/checkouts/checkouts/
If you have other recommendations, write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider adding them here.