Toastmasters leaders need to know how to do hybrid right and fully understand both the benefits and the challenges of holding meetings and events, including contests, with mixed online and in-person participation. This workshop can help.
Workshop leader Graham Cairns shared his own experiences but also interviewed Alexandre Matte (2nd place winner in the World Championship of Public Speaking with a speech delivered remotely) and Cam Krook (the PR Manager for District 69 in Australia and hybrid meetings expert).
The program also included video contributions from speaker tech experts Cajetan Barretto and Markus Seppälä, plus commentary from Graham and Cam on their recommendations. Online Presenters VPE David F. Carr shared his thoughts on the importance of learning hybrid skills to the new world of work and discussed how Club Awesome Toastmasters is balancing hybrid meetings with a desire to get more members back in the room.
- The Future of Online Toastmasters (workshop replay) plus related survey
- Markus Presents – video and other resources, including hyrid equipment recommendations, from Markus Seppälä. Featured: Hybrid meeting setup: What equipment do you really need?
- Tech for Toastmasters – a YouTube channel created by Cajetan Barretto. Featured video: Create High Quality Hybrid Meetings with only a laptop and available technology
- Hybrid Harmony – Toastmasters magazine article by OP’s David F. Carr
- Wireless mic recommendations: Rhode Wireless Go II (high end) and the inexpensive alternative Graham mentioned
- Shared by meeting participants: A User’s Guide to Hybrid Meetings (a detailed 20+ page guide by Dana G. Richard) and a shorter guide from Beaconsfield Toastmasters Club
Note: this is a rough AI-generated transcript, which may contain errors (including attribution of comments to the wrong person). It is timestamped to match the video, so you can find specific excerpts to watch.
Andrew Bern 0:00
So I turn the program over to you as soon as you turn the recording button on, and have the whole program for everybody to see and hear. It’s up to you, Graham, take us away.
Graham Cairns 0:12
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to David for restarting the recording. We are recording this meeting, by the way, everybody. So if you, for whatever reason, don’t wish your face to be recorded, then you’ll have to turn your camera off. But I’d prefer you to keep your cameras on if you can, so I can see your smiling faces. Hello, everybody. My name is Graham cans, and I am the facilitator for today’s session on hybrid meetings, hybrid meetings, making them work. I’m a charter member of this club online presenters. I’m also a member of Well, currently a member of six clubs. Of those two, our hybrid three are online only. So I have some experience with running hybrid meetings. In fact, one of my clubs has been running hybrid meetings since well before the COVID outbreak. So we have some experience in this. I have a number of people who will be contributing to today’s session. And I’d like to introduce them formally. Before we begin, one of those is cam crook from my own district 69. Can Hello say Hello.
Unknown Speaker 1:19
Greetings off Good morning from Queensland.
Graham Cairns 1:22
Thanks cam is in fact, giving up some work time today. So I’m really grateful that he can be here. He is somebody that I look to as an expert. So when you consider that I’ve been touted as the expert here, I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and on the subject of giants. One of the things that I really loved about this year’s World Championship of public speaking was that it was a hybrid contest we have had for the last couple of years online only contests. And that’s been great. Before that, of course, we had in room only contests. And that was also great. But tonight, we have as our special guest here, somebody who was I reckon, pipped just at the post to take the World Championship, he got second and certainly was easily the best place to have the online competitors. So to talk about how to work in an in an online and in room environment, the hybrid that we’re talking about. We have Alexander mat. Now, Alexander is as you have heard, he’s introduced himself raconter. He is a speaker. He is a Toastmaster of some experience and as I say somebody who is a speaker at a level that I can only aspire to. But Alexander is also somebody who took on the odds and competed in a hybrid contest online only. And I have to ask, before I begin Alexon, why the decision to appear on camera rather than in room you had the choice. In North America, you could have got to Nashville without any great difficulty. So I assume that you made the decision to appear on camera rather than in the room? Can I ask why?
Alexandre Matte 3:17
I was with my family. We had decided on on that date for for for our yearly tradition. And I wanted to keep my family intact. So rather than miss the annual gathering for the first time ever, I decided to stay with them. So I instead of missing the whole week, I missed them one or two days, while I was representing
Graham Cairns 3:42
you by doing that, you took a risk. Now there is no doubt that you took a risk. And it’s interesting that of the eight contestants who made the final four were online and four were in room. What was that like as an experience? And we want to talk about hybrid, but we want to talk about your experience specifically first.
Alexandre Matte 4:08
Sure, yeah. And when we get to hybrid, I can tell you why it wasn’t really hybrid. Or why away wasn’t truly hybrid. For my experience, yeah, it was a risk. And I you know, I think most people believe that we were going to be at a disadvantage because we didn’t have that proximity to the people who were in Nashville. But as soon as I learned and this was probably two days before the semi final as soon as I learned that the camera in the in the room in Nashville was fixed. I thought Oh, well. Maybe it’s better that I’m online. It’s only later that I saw the the true impact of really being online and being able to control everything, including any colors that I have behind me where As the participants in person didn’t have that control and and for some of them, they did not appear Well, the the we saw them very small, I was ready to go at bat for them so that they could have a better experience. And so people online because the audience online also wasn’t able to see people, the outside participants very well, you saw them full body from head to toe. It wasn’t a good experience. It wasn’t as good and as experienced as it could have been for the online audience.
Graham Cairns 5:34
You’ve been a little critical of the World Championship hybrid experience, you’ve pointed out that it in fact, wasn’t hybrid in the sense that we would like to consider where all those in the room get the same experience as those on Zoom and vice versa. I’ve spoken to the to one of those behind the semifinals, not the actual finals. I can’t comment on those. But I’ve spoken to one of those who was involved in the semi finals. And and she was saying that that was an issue that they were aware of, but they couldn’t see a way around. Now you’ve run hybrid events for storytelling, for example, what could have been done differently? That would have made a more equitable experience for everybody?
Alexandre Matte 6:25
Well, to make it more equitable first, I mean, we could mention, we could argue that just from the statistics, it was it was an advantage to be online. So fix it by having a camera that follows the speaker that that’s very easy that would that should have been done from the beginning. But for the online contestants, how to make it more fair for them, I understand the technical aspects. And I did experience it when we were doing the interviews. So this I pressed the headquarters, I pressed the staff to see why why can I not see the audience? Because that was our disadvantage. We could not see nor hear the audience. And the final answer was, because there’s a delay up to two seconds. So if I say something that is funny, I won’t see the audience laugh right away, they I will see the reaction two seconds later. So maybe I think that it’s not funny, I keep talking, then I see the the the reaction. So I, I can understand why this year, we could not do that it might have made the experience worse for the audience, as well as for the speakers who are online. But I mean, we’re, we’re speaking online now. And the delay is not as big as it was. So I believe it’s the way that it was set up in the room. It’s a little technical, but I think it’s important for our discussion. We were not directly communicating by zoom. With the meeting on site, we were connecting through zoom with a feed from the audience on site, from from the from the the national from Nashville. So in other words, Nashville, the video feed and audio feed goes through one machine, and then that goes through maybe another machine through so that the technical aspects. So that looks and sounds good. And then it goes into a third machine for zoom before it goes to the internet, and then comes to me. And then the other way around, so that I can communicate with them. So that increases the delay. If it was a direct communication, the delay would not be as big and maybe we would have been able to see and hear the audience. I think this is something that was should be tested throughout the world. We have more and more hybrid, hybrid meetings going on and events. And if we can show the world that it’s possible to have more immersive experience for the audience, and for the speakers, then maybe it will change for the world championship as
Graham Cairns 9:17
well. Speaking of that, immersion, I have to say I’ve never actually seen a world championship of public speaking live. I’ve only ever watched it on the big screen via the internet, from my home in Australia. And so the experience that an audience in the room gets is different to the experience that those of us online are getting. We’ll talk about how to actually improve the hybrid experience, but as a speaker, are you aware when you are speaking in this sort of environment? The that your audience can’t actually respond the way that an audience in the room can, that they, they can’t stand and cheer, or at least you won’t hear them if they do.
Alexandre Matte 10:12
Right. And, and there are two, if when it’s hybrid, there are two different audiences. That that’s why, at the beginning of my, both my speeches, I say, my friends online and my friends on site, I, I want to recognize that it’s a very different experience for each of those two different audiences. And it makes it a an even bigger challenge, when you realize that, because if you if I’m online, and all of the audience is on site, then then I can play with them. And, you know, ask them to stand up and make make whatever we would do to aid in, in person audience, but you’re right, having, having that sort of request to someone who’s watching at home, maybe on their couch, or in their bed, then it’s, it’s a little weird. And if you don’t see them, it’s even harder. So now that I can see everyone who’s got their cameras on I can, I can see your your reactions almost instantly. Oh, and I see that John, from my, I was gonna say, my home district, and I suppose my, my old district is there and saying, hello. So we can, I can have a good interaction with you, because I see your faces even if I tried to concentrate on this, this camera. And as Angela says, Did you say make love with your camera, something like that? I I’m, I’m having fun with this camera. But I’m looking at everyone through the corner of my eye and occasionally glancing at you. I’m I may be going further from your question. Again.
Graham Cairns 11:56
That’s right. i The thing about interviews is that the subject is the person who gets to decide where it’s going. But I will bring us back to hybrid, you’re talking about delivering in this environment, which is essentially like a webinar where you know that everybody is online. From a speaker’s perspective, what do you have to do when you are in a hybrid environment? And I know that you have run hybrid events, with storytelling, for example, where you have had a not insignificant audience in the room, and a not insignificant audience online. How do you, as a speaker, as a presenter, make sure that everybody gets the same value?
Right? Well said, and I think someone asked that earlier. How do you how do you make it so that it feels like one meeting and not two separate events. And, and this is a little bit what we had for the welder conference this year, it’s like two separate events, you’re either watch it, you’re either live on site or you’re a spectator without really being able to participate truly, if you’re online. When I was, and there are different ways of looking at it, right, you’re either participate when you’re a speaker, you’re either online as I was, or you’re on site as Cyril was. Now when I was participating online, and people who were in Nashville, there’s at least one previous world champion,
Unknown Speaker 13:35
Alexandre Matte 13:37
I thought you could see us. I thought you heard us because you felt like you were really interacting with us. So I’ve got some I’ll share with you later, maybe a trick for that. But
Unknown Speaker 13:50
I I knew that people
Alexandre Matte 13:54
on site, saw me on those big screens. So I was, I guess my point of view was thinking the people who are in Nashville, it’s it’s almost like they are at home, watching me from their screen, because they see me just the same as people watch me from home is just much bigger. Now the difference, the main difference from their reactions is that they the the laughter or clapping or whatever reaction from the audience is bigger than if you’re just at home. And I knew this well, because I had the experience of being in front of large crowds, but also because I when I rehearsed. For my two speeches, I made sure that I was Participant I was rehearsing in front of hybrid clubs. So I could see the difference on reactions from people who are online because I asked them to leave their cameras on and from those who were on on their site. And I could see where there were some reactions that could be a little longer. So by rehearsing about 20 to 30 different times, I guess I had in my mind. There, those reactions, they sort of stayed in my memory, right. So when I did something either funny or very thoughtful during my, my speech, even though I didn’t truly see them, it’s almost like I could feel them. It’s difficult to, just to describe in words, but it was a feeling that I had, that I believed I was really reaching them.
Graham Cairns 15:36
Excellent. All right. So that was the International World Championship experience, which as you say, is different to the experience that you get in a hybrid club. When you are competing, or when you are performing, when you are delivering in a hybrid club, how important is it to get that instant feedback from the people on those 35 or however many little screens in front of
Alexandre Matte 16:08
you? Well, to me, it makes a whole difference. And I especially noticed this when I started doing workshops for children in schools. When when we first started going online, because all the schools were closed. First, I said, No, it’s impossible, telling stories to children and asking children to interact with us online, it will never work. But when we saw that the situation was going to last more than a month, we tried it out. And it actually was surprising how, how the kids were able to concentrate and interact with us. And at the beginning, most of them had their cameras on just like I’m seeing here. Now I see what’s this CES was like 30 different faces. So this is what I saw when I when I did gave these workshops when we started going online. But near the end of the school year, the tendency was to keep the cameras off. And it made a huge difference in the in the way that the energy that I had. And I see it not only with children, but I see with adults, if suddenly everyone were to turn off their cameras right now. And you know, when it wouldn’t feel it wouldn’t feel right, something would be off. I’m, I’m very thankful that most Toastmasters keep their cameras on. Because sometimes in a work setting or any other meeting, the the the tendency is to keep the cameras off. So for me, it is important because I give an occasional glance just to see if people are still paying attention, right? Because if they’re not, then there’s something that I need to adjust. Whereas if I don’t see them, I have no idea how I’m doing.
Graham Cairns 18:02
All right. Oh, you mentioned work experience. You’ve spoken about Toastmasters, you’ve spoken about storytelling to children. Let’s take a look at business. The use of hybrid meetings in the business environment? Have you had much experience with that and horror stories or things that have worked really well for you?
Alexandre Matte 18:24
Well, not much experience. I did share with you and David, the video of a conference that we did wasn’t actually the the AGM for the storytellers of Canada. So that’s the most, I guess, business experience that I’ve had for for a hybrid meeting. Although I could mention, it is technically hybrid, if I’m the one online and everyone is everyone else is in a class, for example. So there was I gave him a one hour talk to schools in navy, Labrador in Newfoundland and Labrador. About 20 different classes were online. And so I And apart from that, another, I guess 10 teachers were also online, individually. So I had about 10 faces and 10 to 20 classes. So I don’t have any horror stories, but they’re and I had a great experience doing that because I could at least see and sometimes hear their reactions. But because there were
Unknown Speaker 19:40
Alexandre Matte 19:42
and one camera per class. I could barely see the children, the faces of the children. So it was wasn’t very easy to know if they were, you know, into it or listening or having fun or not. So when I One thing that I did try to do was to make them move. So to see if they were listening, and if they were active, so that that didn’t help. So, so that’s something very interesting, right? Because that’s when we think hybrid, we usually think, on site with a group of people, and then other people individually at home. But sometimes they can be, like I did in Newfoundland, having many different sites with many people in each side.
Graham Cairns 20:30
Cool. We’re running out of time for you. And I do know that you have another meeting to get to. So this is the the free kick question, which as a journalist, I always give anybody that I’m interviewing, is there anything else that you really want to add that you a point that you want to make that we haven’t made so far that you’d like to get across? Yeah,
Alexandre Matte 20:54
there is. And it’s not a point as much as a reflection or a question. I know that a lot of Toastmasters clubs are considering or starting to go hybrid. There have been discussions on the official members Facebook group, that some clubs are not are just not able to do it. So they either stay fully online, or they decide to go fully in person. And I think that’s very fine. I think that’s okay. And I do believe that might be the it might be preferable. Not every club needs to be hybrid. If it doesn’t work for you, either go one way or the other. Some clubs will work better in person, some other clubs will work better online and others will, will be able to do the hybrid route, do whatever works best for your club. My clubs have made the I guess the promise to go hybrid for our members who are out of town. But I also noticed that we are not we haven’t started going in person or hybrid yet, because we like being online. It’s so much more convenient. So maybe that’s just the way that my two clubs are going to work. So it’s, you know, this this new
Unknown Speaker 22:25
Alexandre Matte 22:28
The will to go hybrid, you know, you don’t have to.
Graham Cairns 22:35
Cool. Excellent. Thank you very much for your time, I know that you do have another meeting to get to. And I am so grateful that you have taken your time to be with us. And you’re welcome to stay by the way, don’t feel that I’m throwing you out. But we will move on. But thank you very much for your contributions. And I look forward to next year when you win the world championship.
Alexandre Matte 22:57
Thank you, Graham. Well, I’m gonna stick around for maybe 20 more minutes.
Graham Cairns 23:01
Fabulous. Fabulous. Thank you, Alexandra. Alexandra is our first presenter here today. Now, a little later, we’ll be talking to a colleague of mine, here in district 69. And by the way, he can be prepared for a couple of those same questions, particularly relating to hybrids and business. But before we do, I’m actually going to present Well, there are a couple of experts from around the world who I invited to be part of this presentation. But quite frankly, they couldn’t make it because it’s stupid o’clock in the morning. In one case, it’s half past one and the other. It’s half past three. And so I quite reasonably didn’t expect them to be here, but I have spoken to them. And they have graciously given me access to some of their video materials. One of them is Marcus Cipolla. Now he’s from Marcus presents.com. Marcus presents is his website where he talks about all sorts of things from running hybrid meetings to being a stand up comedian. Well worth checking out. Marcus has a video which he presented relatively recently, which Oh, hang on there we go to screenshare. He presented this relatively recently on the basic equipment, which he believes is required for a hybrid meeting. Now, I’m going to disagree with some of what Marcus has to say. But first, let’s hear what he has to say. Hopefully, this will share for you.
Markus Seppälä 24:33
In my experience, there are six different technical aspects that need to work in a successful hybrid meeting. Number one and to relate to audio. The participants in the room should be able to hear the online participants and the online participants should be able to hear the in room participants number three and four relate to video. The participants in the room should be able to see the online participants and the online participants that should be able to see the in room participants. Number five is the software that runs the meeting like zoom teams or Google meet. And number six, which may be the most important requirement is that you have a stable internet connection. If your budget allows it, I recommend using a conference speakerphone like this one, this is the Callisto 7200 from Polly, I can connect it to my laptop either with Bluetooth or with the USB cable that comes in the box. This Callisto 7200 currently retails for about $200. The benefit of using a conference speakerphone like this is that it handles both audio in and audio out. The device has several microphones that will pick up the voices of the in room participants and broadcast that to the online meeting. It also has a built in speaker that will make sure that people in the room can hear the participants who are joining online. In my first few hybrid meetings, I used a wired lavalier mic and a Bluetooth speaker all connected to my laptop. If you want to try a set up like this, make sure that both the microphone and the speaker are connected to the same device. In this case, it’s the laptop if you don’t do that you risk audio feedback and echo. requirement number three is that the in room participants can see the online meeting and this requires a screen of some kind in the room. In my setup, I usually use a projector where I am projecting the Zoom meeting on to the projector screen in the room. requirement number four is the video feed from the room and onto the online participants. In my setup, I use my Canon M 50, which is a mirrorless camera. I’ve mounted it on the tripod, and then I’ve connected it with a USB cable into the laptop. In my setup, the Canon M 50 is my primary camera and it is directed towards the stage where the speaker stands. It’s also connected to the laptop. And that means when I activate speaker view on Zoom, it’s going to pick up that view from the stage. In my setup, I also have a secondary camera which is directed towards the audience so that the online participants can not only see the speaker, they can also see the audience in the room. requirement number six for a successful hybrid meeting is a stable internet connection. Initially, I thought this would not be a problem, I assumed that everywhere there would be stable Wi Fi. But this is not always the case, at least in my experience, sometimes you will have to deal with a low capacity internet connection. And one of the things that you have to be ready for is to downscale your setup. Sometimes I had to disconnect that my second camera so that the primary camera would have enough bandwidth to work nicely. And when the capacity is really restricted, it can actually look like this. In this sample. Almost all of the Zoom squares here went black, and none of them were showing any moving video is just a still image. But what kept working in this setup is the audio. So even though on my screen, I could not see almost anything, we were still able to do a successful meeting because the audio worked.
Graham Cairns 28:30
Okay, so I’ve been watching the chat and I noticed that some of you are disagreeing. And I have to say I disagree with a couple of things that Mark has said there but I think the points that he’s making are valid. Marcus, by the way, since he presented that video has actually suggested an alternate speakerphone. He genuinely believes that a speakerphone is the best way to go. He talks of using the buyer or there, I actually have a different suggestion and that is a wireless microphone and external speaker. Now. For mics, you can go for something like the road go, which you’ll see a little later in a video. Now there’s a gorgeous Wi Fi microphone that that costs about $200 us and you can go much cheaper than that as well. This one here, for example, cost me the equivalent of $40. US I bought it on Amazon. It is a clip on wireless microphone that plugs straight the receiver plugs straight into your laptop using a USB connection. The best part about it is that for an extra 10 bucks or so you can get a twin that microphones set up which means you can have two microphones in the room at the same time one with the main presenter and one perhaps being passed around for tables topics. The beauty of that is that the big problem with any hybrid meeting in my experience has been that people online cannot hear those in the room properly. And those in the room cannot hear those online properly. You can and it’s been suggested that you can use a couple of mobile phones and an iPad. Yeah, you can. But quite frankly, it doesn’t give the same experience that putting a little extra effort into for an external speaker, go for a cheap Bluetooth. I mean, I actually have sitting around a Bluetooth speaker that I very rarely use. It’s some years old now, but it works perfectly well if you need to, or preferably pipe it through the system in your venue if you’ve got it. For the display, Marcus suggested using a projector. And I agree that’s the best way to go if you can. But there is an alternative, a 32 inch or 80 centimeter television. Now that’s not a big TV and it’s quite light, you can carry it around without any problems. The height of a 32 inch television from the top of the screen to the bottom of the screen in its standard landscape format is roughly the same height as from the top of the human head to about the middle of their chest. And so if the camera on the main speaker is relatively tight, and that television is at the same placement in a room, as your projector would be, then you are effectively seeing somebody as if they were in the room. Yes, if you do the full body shot, as Andre Alexander pointed out, they look quite small. But it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp razor blade. If you have to go with what you can use. That’s for the camera choice. There’s no way that I’d spend $600 on digital SLR and stick it on a tripod. It’s just I don’t have one of those. And if I did, I wouldn’t be taking it along to my Toastmasters meeting because I break it. Not when I can buy a $50 Logitech webcam external camera and stick that on a $20 tripod. So as I say I wouldn’t go the full hog the way that Mark has has. But Marcus has given you some really good ideas. His suggestion of using a cell phone as an audience cam is a good one. In fact, I use an old android phone that is otherwise out of date. And it does a perfectly good job of being the audience came in on that subject. I have another video here to show this time from catterton. Burrito. And if it’s late in the night for Marcus, it’s zero Darko clock for Kazakhstan in the Middle East. So let’s bring you some of what Ketchikan had to say.
Cajetan Barretto 32:40
What I do is when I’m having a club meeting, I just put a mobile like this, put it in selfie mode. So what happens is, if I was to deliver a speech, or project, I can see myself and y’all can see the online audience. Me delivering the speech like this. Now, whether it’s a mobile, or a professional camera, that’s another story. I like mobiles, you know why? Because they have everything built inside. But if I was to place a camera, how would I put it in the Zoom meeting, I would have to then connect it to a laptop, and then laptop is joined to the meeting. But here, I just take out the mobile, put it here. And I’m up and running as far as this view is concerned. So the person can come here, deliver a speech, all you need is your mobile, a tripod, and you’re done. But what if I want to show the online audience what’s happening here, so I have another mobile here. So if I spotlight this one, now the online audience is observing you as far as cameras and the laptop is concerned for your club meetings. You can do the setup and it will work fine. As long as your mobile’s have decent internet connection, so laptop, one or two mobiles strategically placed around your club, revises and you are done. And area directors now have to conduct your area contest. And let’s say you want to do it in as physical, but give this option for contestants like Priscilla to come online and deliver their speech as she is doing. So how would you attempt it? So if it was done, for example, in this room, this TV could be enough. Maybe make sure that other TV works. Get to mobile phones, laptop and just make sure that you hook up that mixer into your laptop and you should be able to conduct contest. Do you think so? Do you think that this is is good enough for our area. The only thing of course, as technical people you have to make sure again, I keep in mind is that when there are multiple devices, like some parties here, this phone is here, this phone is here, only one device should have the audio turned on, as you can see here. Right. And of course from the other side, wrestlers devices turned on because we want to hear, but you notice here that none of the other devices have audio on. And that’s very easy to do. By the way, you might have seen on your phone, there is an option called disconnect audio. Or if it is on the laptop, we have an option here, which is leave computer audio and it will disconnect me from the audio. So keep only one device connected, and then the rest should be fine.
Graham Cairns 35:48
Okay, so catch it. One suggestion there is to use mobile phones. And I know that there have been some suggestions in the chat that that’s enough. I actually don’t think a mobile phone is a good camera to use particularly for the main presenter because, quite frankly, mobile phone cameras particularly in selfie mode, as he suggested the front camera are not the best lenses that you can do. But they are perfectly adequate for the in room cam to show the audience in the room as well. That’s what I’ve been using in my home club. One last video, I promised this one won’t last very long. This is one that I shot for my home club here in district 69, which is called thorax, Toastmasters. And we shot this during the pandemic. This is the setup of our room. Now we’re lucky in that we have four audio visual facilities available here at the library, which we use as our meeting room. So I have a laptop, which is connected into that audio visual system. Obviously, we’re using zoom as you can tell, and it’s connected via HDMI to the system. Now, the big problem with any hybrid meeting is nearly always the audio from inside the room, which doesn’t sound good to those online. So we’ve got around that. By purchasing a wireless mic we’ve got the wireless go from road cost us about $300 Australian in which is probably $200. US It comes in two parts one is a receiver. And the other is a clip on microphone which can be used by anybody in the room. Normally, we would leave it at the lectern because it picks up quite well. But if somebody is going to be moving the lectern aside, or for that matter, if they wish to wander around all we wish to have it around the room, it just clips to a pocket or a collar, or what you need for you. So that’s the road microphone which we use for our audio. Now for the camera, I normally set up a camera, we use a Logitech on a tripod, which I’ll talk about in a moment, we normally set it up in the middle of the room so that as you can see on the main screen up there. It takes in the speaking area, there’s another camera, which is actually just an old mobile phone that I have, which sits up in the corner there. And it is what shows the room to those who are online. As you can see, these both desks can be seen via that camera. So in a meeting, there will be two cameras showing the room one of the lectern cam, which is the one that is on the right. Or, Yes, it is on the right for you as well. And then the audience cam, which is the one on the left. Now, we normally only set up for about 10 people in the room. Because with COVID restrictions, that’s all we’re allowed to have real at 14 I think in this room, so I set up for 10 or 12. If we need extra, then we’ll adjust that that quite simply is how we run a hybrid meeting.
Unmute yourself, Graham, always a good thing. So that last video was not the most professional but it gives you some ideas. Those are all different ways that you can set up for a hybrid meeting. The thing about the setup that I had there is that I think that’s a more common set up for a Toastmasters meeting rather than being around a single room in the table or scattered tables all over the room. Most of the time, were set up in the U shape that seems to me to be the pretty standard for how a an in room Toastmasters Club is set up certainly those Toastmasters clubs that I’ve seen in England, in Australia and in the United States. So there are different ways of doing things. And that’s one of the points that I want To make above all else, that there is no one size fits all solution. What works best for you is what works for you. Alexander made the point earlier. If your club doesn’t need to go hybrid, if it is happy to remain as an online only club or happy to remain as a face to face club, then there’s nothing wrong with that. If on the other hand, you want to go hybrid, there are various ways of doing and I should tell you, by the way that that last club that I was talking about height at the Forex club, the reason that we are a hybrid club and this predates COVID, is because we meet in the middle of the CBD at lunchtime on a Friday. Now, anybody who’s ever worked in an office in the city on a Friday knows that quite often the boss will dump a whole lot of paperwork on your desk at nine o’clock on Friday morning and say I need this done by five o’clock this afternoon. Now, if you’re going to take an hour and a half out of the middle of the day to go to a Toastmasters meeting, 15 minutes to get down to the meeting an hour for the meeting, 15 minutes to get back, you know that that’s not always going to work. Whereas if you can just
Unknown Speaker 41:16
Graham Cairns 41:19
at midday, stay for the meeting, log off and get back to work, maybe even eat your lunch while you’re doing it, then it works. And so we decided to go hybrid because it worked for us. It may not work for you, whatever your decision is, do what works for you. Of course, where it gets complicated is when you have competitions, district 69 My home district has made the decision as I believe have many districts around the world that all area division and district contests this year must be run as hybrid meetings. That is you can run a face to face contest. But if any of the contestants wish to compete online, that option has to be made available to them. Cam crook is as I mentioned at the beginning of this meeting, somebody that I look up to as being a technical doyenne somebody who runs things much better than I do. He’s the guy who actually tells me No, Graham, that’s not gonna work or the reason that doesn’t work is he’s also been in a couple of clubs with me. He’s been an area director. He’s been the past public relations manager for district 69. And he joins us this morning. Good morning, Cam.
Cam Krook 42:35
Good morning. All it is indeed morning. It’s half 10 On Tuesday morning here in Queensland, Australia.
Graham Cairns 42:41
So Cam, let’s take a look at best practice for hybrids, in club meetings. And best practice for hybrid meetings. For contests. We’ll start with club meetings, you’ve been involved with a couple of clubs that are hybrid, anything that’s come up in either Marcus or me or Christian was that that you would disagree with violently?
Cam Krook 43:09
Look, I don’t disagree violently with anything. I agree with everything and disagree with everything too. Because to take your point. The equipment you use depends on quite a few things, not least of which is your situation. Your situation might be eight people sitting around a conference table. And some people in line it might be more of a classroom size was 20 odd people theater with 50, or a conference venue that I’ve done recently, with 100. And more recently, up to 2000 people. So the equipment you’re using, and what’s built in and what you have to provide and what the capabilities are of your online users. They might have no IT literacy at all. They might be experts. It really depends. So that’s why I say I agree with everything and disagree with me. All right, I am. I wasn’t going to take so much of a best practice for that reason. But I did want to talk about three key principles which aren’t very technical if that’s okay. Cool. Look, I might just start by saying the reason online meetings and hybrid meetings here in my state of Queensland is so important is because Queensland is in district 69, which is 3.7 million square kilometers or one and a half million square miles in size it takes in several states. So the online and hybrid meeting situation is very, very important, I think as Graham alluded to earlier, coincidentally or very luckily, we happen to be experimenting with online meetings long before COVID Because of our tyranny of distance, we have a club which is 2000 kilometers away from the next closest club. So for them to attend on site club offs, training is nearly impossible. So we started to provide online experience and training. It also meant that when COVID did hit my own home club, I think, may have never proven this, but may have been one of the earliest to go immediately online because we were all geared up right at the beginning of 2019. So anyway, that’s why it’s so important to us. And Libya, that me I work I do work professionally in Information Technology. My specialty is business systems analyst and agile trainer and consultant. So, yes, I do have a strong it focus. But I’ve made a real passion over the last few years to think about audio visual equipment, which isn’t my professional field, it’s very much a hobby, and it’s something I’ve made a study of. I will soon be publishing, I hesitate to say this, but I will be soon publishing a guide to online and hybrid meetings that comes out of the experience over the last few years of COVID. But particularly over the last few months of facilitating area conferences, for those online contests. As Graham mentioned, our district said you will provide an online contest capability. So there’s been quite a few things come up. So if it’s okay with you, I’ll launch into the three principles I really wanted to talk about. Okay, so first of all, I think preparation is key. Absolutely key as it is in so many situations. And the sort of preparation I’m thinking about is, first of all, assessing the situation you’re in, for example, a recently supported as the as the IT person, an area conference where we had most of the audience and speakers on site here in my city. But we had one of the clubs in the area 2000 Or sort of 1600 miles away, so they had to be online. Now that in itself is is easy having a participant online for all the reasons we’ve talked about earlier the equipment need. But it was made more complex because the remote meeting or call them the remote meeting, they had their own club meeting in room, and several participants needing to speak to that room. And online, it became more complicated when one of their participants last minute, had to go to another state altogether and another city, so she became online only. And then even more complicated when one of the people in the remote location needed hearing assistance. So she needed to loop into all of the equipment.
And that’s why I say that it’s really, really important to assess the situation, you can’t assume that one size fits all that whatever kit you have on hand is going to be appropriate for the situation you find yourself in small meeting, large meeting, big conference, whatever. So assess the situation. As a business analyst. I’m very used to doing a needs analysis or looking at the equipment looking at the capability of the users what their needs are to be online or to be on site assessment. First of all, think about the budget you have available. Now Graham just spoke about a Rode wireless Bluetooth microphone receiver for I think it was a couple of $100 Graham. I wanted to spend a lot less so I bought what I thought would be a disposable one for just $49 Australian which is about $30 us. In fact, I got a second one for less so $69 Australian or $45 us wireless lavalier microphones and receiver intending to throw it away. It survived despite people clapping, having it in their hand while they’re clapping and all sorts of other things that happened. It survived and it did really really well. We just had a sergeant announced clipping onto each speaker as they went to the stage and then my receiver was plugged straight into my PC. So think about your budget. There are ways and means I personally am an advocate of using an SLR camera. The Canon SLR camera I have canon have provided a bit of software that turns the SLR camera into a webcam so that your computer treats it as a webcam and it won’t shut down automatically and has zoom and all those sorts of things. That’s great. It was a bit of kit I had on hand. But if I wasn’t using NAT as Graham mentioned, I would be using a fairly cheap webcam, that’s the kind of thing that clips over the top of your computer, you can get some that a little adapter that put it onto a camera tripod. So needs his needs must think about the equipment and your budget. I’m a great advocate of documenting what I’ve designed. So drawing diagrams, to help myself make sense of it to audit all the equipment and wires and how much power will I need. And do I have the right connector for every bit of every peripheral and every PC. So I draw that out, but more so to provide to other people. So they get a visual understanding. I’ve watched Marcus’s videos many, many times and bases a lot of my own knowledge. But I found it more helpful to draw it all. And that’s why I’m going to publish a guide, so that you can actually see it visually in front of you. The other important thing I think, is training and practice. I recently had to support a remote club who had a very, very low IT literacy, they struggled to turn the PC on, and had to do the training and support remotely, which was a real challenge. So again, documenting very patient online training, and a dry run of their conference. So we met several times, running through all of the equipment and discovering their glitches and looking for contingency measures. I’ve thrown curveballs and say, Look, if if your microphone fails, what are you going to do? And we came up with a strategy. So lots of dry run lots of practice. So overall preparation is key. Certainly, yep.
Graham Cairns 51:37
Keep going. Yes.
Cam Krook 51:38
Yeah. The second lesson, I’ll move a bit faster. The second lesson is think about your communication strategy. So when you’re when you’re supporting a remote party, you want a designated person on site who is going to be in contact with you, preferably on mobile phone, or text message or instant messaging of some sort. And make sure you agree whatever that method is, that was that was something that I fell into a trap of speaking started, problem was their couldn’t contact anybody say we can’t hear you. So have your communication worked down. And the final point is, prepare for contingencies you may be familiar with. Depending on where you are in the world, you might call it sods law and Murphy’s Law, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. For example, in the most recent conference, the local webcam died. minutes later, the remote microphone died. And a few minutes later, we lost communications all together. And it turned out because somebody had literally died. And so the person responsible for our communications had had to go and deal with crisis. I thought you couldn’t make this stuff up. We had contingencies in place for every one of those things. So we had an almost seamless recovery. They were compromises, we had to start using the laptops built in camera, for instance, and so forth. It wasn’t ideal, but at least we thought about it in advance. So plan for contingencies on another occasion, I’ve learned to have a sign up on my table that says please don’t touch anything. I’ve learned to cue the sergeant arms to say, make sure you don’t touch the equipment over the large conference, several 100 people in attendance and one of the delegates decided during the break to come up and use my equipment to start talking to people online who were remote. And he has he essentially reconfigured all the audio. And I had no idea until we restarted and nothing worked. So I’ve learned to say please don’t touch my gear. But they’re the things that I’ve learned recently and I hope that helps.
Graham Cairns 53:54
Thank you, Cam. I was actually at that conference. And yes, I I could see the steam rising from the corner of the room when you realize what was happening. It wasn’t me by the way who touched the equipment. Thank you camera for that. And I think if we take nothing else away from cameras presentation today, the the thing is, boy scouts be prepared. Think about what could go wrong, and how do you work around it if you’re gonna do I was at a contest. The other day I was a judge where one of the contestants was remote. And they were sufficiently remote, that they could not get a video connection to the meeting. But they could hear the test speaker for an evaluation contest on a mobile phone. So I plugged my shop my mobile phone next to the speaker, they could at least hear the contest and they didn’t win by the way. Nobody expected they would win, given that they couldn’t comment on the gestures and body language of the speaker but at least I gave it a shot. Cameron, I’m going to ask you a couple of very quick questions. One of those in your role as a professional you You mentioned that you do this for a living, hybrid meetings in a business environment, because many of our members are going to want to know how to best work a hybrid meeting in a business environment where you, for example, have some of your team are at home and some of your team around the room, how do you make it so that everybody gets the same value from that meeting?
Cam Krook 55:23
Yeah, great question. In fact, today, I am working for a client headquartered in my city, the state of Queensland, now Queensland, is from memory, I can’t remember how big it is, Oh, that 1.8 million square kilometers. So So three quarters of million square miles, my state has a very big state understand Texas fit to do to a few times to give you some scale. So the project is whole of state. So remote video conferencing is not an option. It’s a necessity. Now, yes, we have corporate equipment, but each person only has a laptop. And they have dreaded teams, by the way, I hate teams, it’s so poorly architected. But anyway, they have teams. So the keys have the same preparation, before an important workshop, I will contact the attendees, particularly those who will be participating actively, and just practice with them. They’re not always aware of, of how to mute and unmute themselves and how to synchronize their operating systems, camera and microphone settings with those of the application software, they’re not familiar with that stuff, I don’t expect them to me. So we do a bit of a dry run, we do a bit of a practice bit of a gentle training, maybe I’ll send them some notes, preparation is key. The other thing that works situation is visual is key. So I regret not having some props to show today. I didn’t think we’d have time. But I certainly make use of applications like mero mero. M Ira was is free online visual tool for Mind Mapping and process modeling all sorts of things. And it’s a collaborative tool. So multiple people can be using it at the same time for all sorts of software tools like that, that encourage collaboration. We are hard wired for in person communication. And online is always a compromise. It’s not as good or as effective. But you can get jolly close with the use of technology and the use of software tools to augment the experience. So again, think through and if you’re not sure, if you don’t have the knowledge, reach out, there are so many people I find around to help and give advice, turn up and support you.
Graham Cairns 57:56
Again, I know that you have another meeting that you’re actually supposed to be at with a client, indeed. So I’ll say thank you and let you go now but unless there are any specific questions for Cameron, show of hands, no, no. All right. Thanks cam for that. I thank you once again for this and literally can gave up paid work with a client and ask the client to shift their meeting so that he could be with us today. And I thank you for that. So the lessons so far have been be prepared and fit your equipment to your circumstance. Joanie, for example, has been quite vocal about going with the bare minimum, it will get you out of a problem. And I agree that the bare minimum is the bare minimum and that will work I prefer a mid level as you’ve seen from what I use, others prefer to use more expensive equipment. I genuinely have to say this, this came spoke about buying a cheap camera, a cheap microphone. I got this one on Amazon for as I say the equivalent of 30 bucks us and I am seriously impressed at how well it works. Certainly it’s not as good a quality as my road NT which is sitting next to me, or for that matter. The road go which one of my clubs use it, but it’s also well, I could buy six of them for the same price. So cut your cloth will make you make your suit to catch your cloth to suit your clothes. However, the phrase is. I’m going to call on some of the members of this club and the members of this audience for contributions first, by the way, thank you to Todd Todd has put into the chat, three or four really useful guides from Beaconsfield, Toastmasters and others on how to run hybrid meetings and I Thank you, Todd for doing that. Those are something that you should everybody, make sure that you go and download. But I’m going to ask a couple of our club members here about the hybrid experience and what they have worked with and done. David, you’re one of your clubs. is I believe, is is your home club still meeting? Only online? Or are you doing hybrid? No, no,
David F. Carr 1:00:29
we’ve been doing doing hybrid for several months. We did it for a few months. And then they got scared of COVID. And we went back online and then but probably since mid summer, at least, we have been doing hybrid on a weekly basis. The only expertise that I will claim is that I’ve done everything wrong at least once. And so I’ve been in a number of terrible hybrid meetings, but they were mostly my fault, except for those in the workplace. And one point that I did want to make was that this is worth learning to do well, partly so you can take those skills and pack them up and take them into your workplace and hopefully, get people to run hybrid meetings that are a little bit less horrible. Because I think of when my current employer, which has its main office in New York, I’m one of the remote people in South Florida. When they brought people back into the office, and they had a town hall meeting, they of course, immediately had problems with two hot microphones in the room and all sorts of feedback. And at least I could type frantically into the chat, turn off that separate second mic. I wish they had another town hall. So months later, maybe a month and a half ago, where it was set up, just kind of casually haphazardly, will have will invite in the online people and we’ll just pop this laptop over in the corner. And so of course, we couldn’t hear anything. Actually the angle was so that you were seeing the presenters backside. And maybe somebody out there was appreciating that but you know, not not the most flattering thing for them as well as not the best experience for the audience. So something I think, I think a lot of times in the workplace, there is sort of a casual attitude towards hybrid that, yeah, well, we know how to do it. We’ve been doing zoom for years. So we know how to do hybrid. And they don’t, and maybe we can help to bring them along.
Graham Cairns 1:02:40
Excellent. Thank you for that good advice, I will get to something that you just said, because I want to raise that. But I have to tell you my first hybrid experience in a Toastmasters sense was with a club, which invited online participation as well as in room participation. It was just after the rollout of pathways in two districts in North America. And there were some clubs, which ran hybrid meetings to encourage those of us from far flung parts of the world to actually get into Pathways early. And they used gone to meetings and gone to meetings is I mean, we’ve heard people say today that teams is a terrible, terrible software platform teams is the gold standard by comparison to the original go to meetings, I have to tell you, I could not ever hear what was being said in the room. And those in the room could not ever hear those of us who are online, we used to actually have two separate general evaluators, one to general evaluate the online component and one to general evaluate the component in the room. Which brings us to a question from a ma how do you integrate online and in person in a hybrid meeting? So it feels like a single meeting? And related to that? Something that David said, how do you get people to turn up to an online or a hybrid meeting, when it is much more convenient for them to stay at home in their pajamas rather than turn up at seven o’clock in the morning to a breakfast meeting? I’ll address that second one first, David, how are you dealing with getting people to actually physically turn up as well as those online? Well,
David F. Carr 1:04:23
because it is a morning meeting, we definitely have had an issue with people who have gotten used to sleeping in just a little bit later, and not getting in the car and coming over. And so they might come in person if they’re speaking but maybe not. And so, there were several weeks where I was like, you know, is it really worth it? For us to be doing hybrid at all. This is a lot of equipment that we’re setting up. And things that we’re futzing with trying to get it ready and then there’s three people in the room and everybody else’s online. And it has, thankfully it has started to balance out a little bit more. In recent meetings, we have told people that we would like to see them in the room. And, and we are doing a breakfast meeting this Friday to try and propel people into the room or attract people to the room. But you know, one thing that’s happened in the meantime, is we now have a member from China, we now have a member from Poland, we now have our VP of membership is in Idaho. So, so we’re hybrid for good, or at least it would take us a long time, a lot of complication to unravel it. It actually is working pretty well for us. So I just wanted to put in a note for that for people who were talking about. Maybe hybrid isn’t isn’t the best thing. It is working out for us over time.
Graham Cairns 1:05:56
Thanks, David. Rosie, you’re a member of you number of hybrid clubs. I’m going to ask you that question. How do you try and make those online? And those in the room feel like they’re part of the same meeting? How do you give the same value to people on both sides of that equation?
Thank you, Graham. That’s a tough one, isn’t it? We we do audio and visual very well, because when we first went into hybrid, we actually looked at your information and we went down the roads that you suggested. So we’re well set up from an equipment point of view. But we what we’ve done is we’ve we’ve waited our online as Zoomers a little bit heavier, you might say, then our rumors, so that to sort of compensate for them having a better experience, and we’re thinking about brings it up to a level playing field for them. The unfortunate part about that is that we’ve done that so well, that our rumors are falling behind so as to speak. And so we we haven’t got it right yet, but we thought we were doing it very well with with giving our zoom is just that little bit more a little bit more agenda time. We had to work on our transitions a lot in terms of tidying things up. But once we got that right, we’re happy with that. But I don’t know how we’re going to reinvigorate the face to face side of it. Because we’re doing the Zoom parts so well, that our face to face just I don’t know, I really don’t know what to say there. But thanks for the question.
Graham Cairns 1:07:47
Work in progress. And you all might like to consider that I will tell you that I just recently ran a hybrid speechcraft course, which was an interesting experience, particularly since the shop has been closed for some months, and we haven’t been able to get the equipment or get the the project material and I suppose you’re given the spacecraft. But one of the things that I found doing that hybrid speechcraft course was that I had to give equal time to those online and those in the room. But we always had to make sure for example that the timekeeper was online rather than in the room, because an in room timekeeper cannot be seen effectively in many cases by somebody online, unless you have a separate camera just on the light. So it may be a solution to look at what works for you. Are there roles. That must be a rumor Toastmaster of the day? No. Why we’ve had Toastmaster of the day have been online. We have had Toastmaster of the day have been in room. It’s you need to have somebody who’s actually keeping an eye on the chat to let the Toastmaster know and one of the things that this club by the way for guests through online presenters, I will tell you one role that we have in this club is somebody who actually is a chat master their job is to keep an eye on the chat and to let the Toastmaster or anybody else in needs to know know about stuff that’s coming up. The same happens in a Zoom meeting. You need to have somebody who’s keeping an eye on the chat who can let the Toastmaster know that ah, Bill’s having audio? Can we please go to the next event or whatever? We’re just about out of time. It’s 1057. Are there any urgent questions that I have not addressed? Again, thank you to everybody who has posted material into the chat and there are a number of really good guides there. I see ones just come up from Angela. There have been a number of numbers that have come up from Todd, I will be posting the one that is being written by cam when I get a copy of it. And I gotta tell you, it’ll be good he is he nails down you dots the I’s and crosses the T’s better than certainly better than I can. If there are no specific questions that I haven’t addressed. Yes, Andrew. Thank you, Graham,
Andrew Bern 1:10:07
I just wanted to read your reiterate one thing. And this comes both from the hybrid environment as well as the YouTube environment. And when you look into the YouTubers and talk about their activities, they rank order the importance of what they control, First Voice. Second, the visuals, including the background lighting, as the two most important in that order. So if you have a trouble with your cameras, versus or you have make the decision between higher level camera, and lighting versus voice, they say stay with the voice, the better your voice, the better your voice video. And so I think that really applies to hybrid as well. The better your voice quality, the better your program. I just recently went to where I was a judge, and an Eric contest that was hybrid. And I have to tell you, it was horrible because you couldn’t hear anything for most people. And so that was a terrible experience. You want to have the highest Toastmaster experience you can for everybody that’s there both in person. And at the meeting as well over zoom fingers.
Graham Cairns 1:11:20
I did see a hand coming up from who was that was, Joni.
Joni Laidlaw 1:11:28
I do have? Yeah, I do have a question though. As well as a comment as Toastmasters International. You have demonstrated today, I see how many people said I have taken note. President distinguished Toastmaster, Andrew said you need to have steps. My suggestion or my next step in the suggestion is not only to have an example, for, say an IT manager, they would give the suggestions for the name as a part of the district body and the Toastmasters International bodies. But we need a path. This is a transferable skill. And it’s one thing that we’ve demonstrated, who do we go to when we want to learn this? Who is the context? If I want to do public relations, I can go find the public relations manager. I’m doing HR, I would know it’s membership. What do we have in an online program because Toastmasters is an online program. But there is no path that teaches these skills specifically, and having outlined for us and I do believe this is where we should have in the future. But my question is, how many people would get behind or believe a path like that would be something like
Graham Cairns 1:12:46
this? That’s That’s how long of a piece of string question that which, which we can’t address here. But I will tell you a journey that as I understand it, the process to get a new path, Written and accepted is a multi year process. There have been some Toastmasters I know who have been working on a storytelling path for at least two years, and they’re not quite ready yet. There has been another group who’ve been looking at a parliamentary procedure path. And that’s also been more than a year and a half in in process. So but it’s not a bad suggested. And I’m not dismissing it as a suggestion. I’m just saying I’m not sure that this group is the group to talk about it. But I will take it on board we are at 1101 my time. I don’t know what time that is, wherever you are. But it’s one past the hour wherever you are, unless of course you are in India because they’re about the only place in the world that over half our times and Indian new found land in South Australia. But anyway, it is time for us to wrap up. I thank you for your contributions. I’m not shutting the meeting down, there’s still plenty of chance for people to ask questions. There are plenty of chance for people to chat. But I will ask David to please stop the recording because at this point,
David F. Carr 1:13:57
I will stop the recording right after I thank great Graham very much. Because I put this on the schedule and I came up with the title, How to do Hybrid Right. And it was Graham’s job to actually figure out how to present that, and he did a great job. Thank you
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