Carol Prahinski Wins Our First Mini-Webinar Contest

Congratulations to Carol Prahinski, winner of the first Mini-Webinar Contest at Online Presenters Toastmasters.

The top ranked webinar speakers were:

#1 Carol Prahinski
#2 Jim Barber
#3 Norman Dowe

This was a tough challenge, trying to pack a miniaturized webinar including Q&A into 6-8 minutes, but we tried to make it a great learning experience. While this is not an official Toastmasters contest format, other online clubs might want to give it a try (see details about the rules and scoring formula we used).

For a replay of the full event, including feedback from celebrity guest judges Roger Courville, Sheryl Roush, and Nick Cavalancia, see the video below:


Toastmasters Webinar Contest on April 16

Online Presenters Toastmasters will hold a mini-webinar contest on April 16 at 7:30 pm EDT, and guests are welcome to register to attend.

This is not an official Toastmasters contest format (at least not yet) but rather an attempt to craft a contest specifically for the online medium. Scoring is based loosely on the International Speech Contest, but with additional points awarded for delivering a clear call to action and fielding audience questions submitted via chat — as in a professional webinar. We’ve also tweaked the scoring categories to accommodatie the different visual presentation in an online meeting.

Celebrity Judges

To add some “Dancing with the Stars” pizzaz, we have recruited 3 celebrity judges — professional speakers and webinar organizes who will be on hand to give our contestants feedback on their performances.

Roger Courville is an expert on online presentations who led one of our first workshop sessions

Sheryl Roush, a well known professional speaker (and coach to speakers) who also honored us with a workshop

Nick Cavalancia, Founder / Chief Techvangelist at Techvangelism, has delivered more than 1,000 webinars in his work as a technology marketer.

About Online Presenters

The Online Presenters club mission is to develop skills for better webinars and online events of all sorts. The club meets Mondays at 7:30 pm US Eastern time, with the first half hour reserved for informal meet-and-greet (plus technical troubleshooting) and the formal one-hour meeting starting at 8 pm. Guests are always welcome.

Image credit: Webinar by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

How the Contest Will Be Organized

Speech Format: Speakers will be allowed 6-8 minutes. It’s up to the speaker to decide how much of that time to respond to audience questions, but they will get points for audience engagement.

Everyone other than the speaker will be muted during the presentation, so questions will be submitted via the chat feature. If you are not competing, be sure to come ready to be a good audience with lively questions for our contestants.

A member will be appointed to monitor the chat feed, and speakers have the option of asking the chat monitor to assist by relaying questions to them. Contestants are responsible for letting the chat monitor know whether you want assistance and, if so, whether to interrupt with questions during their presentation or save them until the end.

Speeches for this contest should also include some sort of call to action, whether it’s a sales pitch or an appeal to take some sort of political or moral or personal development action.

Webinar Contest Scoring

Max score
Speech Development 15
Audience Engagement 15
Speech Value 15
Call to Action 15
Visual 15
Voice 10
Manner 5
Appropriateness/Correctness 10
Total Possible Score 100

Speech Development is the way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. The speech is structured around a purpose, and this structure must include an opening, body and conclusion. A good speech immedi­ately engages the audience’s attention and then moves forward toward a significant conclusion. This development of the speech structure is supported by relevant examples and illustrations, facts and figures, delivered with such smoothness that they blend into the framework of the speech to present the audience with a unified whole.

Audience Engagement is a score for how well the speaker responded to questions submitted via the chat. This includes how well the speaker managed the time management challenge of delivering their core presentation and still allowing time for questions, as well as the quality of the responses.

Speech Value justifies the act of speaking. The speaker has a responsibility to say something meaningful and original to the audience. The listeners should feel the speaker has made a contribution to their thinking. The ideas should be important ones, although this does not preclude a humorous presentation of them.

Call to Action is a clear statement of what the presenter wants the audience to do following the presentation – buy a product, vote in an election, or change their life in some way. How clear was the desired outcome?

Visual Presentation includes all the elements conveyed through video, including body language and the use of slides or other content shared onscreen.

Voice is the sound that carries the message. It should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good voice can be clearly heard and the words easily understood.

Manner is the indirect revelation of the speaker’s real self as the speech is delivered. The speaker should speak with enthu­siasm and assurance, showing interest in the audience and confidence in their reactions.

Combined in our scoring are: Appropriateness of language refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audi­ence hearing the speech. Language should promote clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely. Correctness of language ensures that attention will be directed toward what the speaker says, not how it is said. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words being used.

Replay: How to start an online Toastmasters club (panel discussion)

This panel discussion, moderated by Carole McCulloch of the Online Alliance, was hosted by Online Presenters with participation of leaders from other clubs. See below for links to each of the relevant websites.

Moderator: Carole McCulloch of the Online Alliance.


Larry Miller (Netizens)
Paul Finkelstein (Competitive Communicators)
Magda Van Rooyen (Ablaze Online)
Lorraine Taylor (Firebirds Collective)
Dawn Nocera (Advanced Toastmasters Online)
David Carr (Online Presenters)

You can learn more about the Online Alliance, which promotes education and best practices for online clubs at

The video Lorraine Taylor mentions on club leadership collaboration with Trello is here.

Replay: “How to Connect with ANY Audience,” with Sheryl Roush, DTM, Past District Governor, Accredited Speaker

In this video replay of an Online Presenters workshop, Sheryl Roush guides us through the process of connecting with any audience (online or off) by understanding the different communication styles of audience members.

Here is the worksheet Sheryl provided as part of the workshop: Handout – Sheryl Roush (PDF)

Replay: Workshop on Setting Up a Studio for Live Video

Jim Guld and Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour shared the basics of light, video, and sound you need to understand to do professional live video. They host a weekly YouTube Live show on technology for travelers as a service to attendees at their in-person seminars and members of their subscription website. They have recently added a second weekly show on Facebook Live.

Because they do these broadcasts on the road, from a traveling studio in their camper van, as well as from their home office, they offer a unique perspective on how to achieve a professional setup in any circumstance.

Sign up for our next educational workshop at

Shared Editing Rights for Online Presenters YouTube Channel

The Online Presenters YouTube channel is now set up as owned by a Google “brand account” rather than an individual. This allows multiple members to upload and edit video content using their own password.

Here is how that works:

If you have been named as one of the account managers, you should get an invitation that looks like this:

Invitation to manage the youtube channel

Once you have accepted the invitation, you may see a prompt when you visit YouTube (while logged into your Google account) asking which role you want to play – yourself or the club account.

YouTube asks which role you want to play

You can switch between roles at any time using the menu in the upper right hand corner:

Switching roles

So the process is:

  • Switch to using YouTube in the brand account persona
  • Upload your video (click the arrow pointing up at the top of the screen)
  • Switch back to your own account

This should be a little less clumsy that sharing a password for a single account.

Replay: What Toastmasters Should Know About Facebook Live

This is the replay of a Facebook Live broadcast with tips for speakers and Toastmasters leaders about how to use the Facebook platform. You may want to fast forward to about 3:40 when the program really begins (or look at how I try to stall for time in those first few minutes while I’m finishing the preparations I couldn’t get done until the broadcast started streaming).

To see it in context with all the comments, go to

Share Your District Table Topics or Humorous Speech Contest on Facebook Live

As a live streaming video tool available to any Facebook user, Facebook Live presents a tremendous opportunity for clubs and districts to showcase their talent.

If we want to demonstrate that Toastmasters is more than a bunch of people giving PowerPoint presentations to each other, what better opportunity than the humorous speech and table topics contests? Since the district is the top level of competition for both table topics and humorous speeches, this is a great opportunity for districts to show just how compelling and entertaining a good Toastmasters speech can be — and perhaps inspire more people to visit a club and join. And by getting current members to share the video with their friends, districts have the opportunity to reach a sizeable local audience.

Below, I’m sharing a (slightly edited version of) the proposal I just sent to my district leadership. My suggestion is that other districts who have their conferences coming up consider this as well.

Update: One question I’ve gotten about this idea is what to do if one or more contestants do not agree to the broadcast. My answer is you acknowledge and respect their wishes, without pressuring them. Ask if they will agree to be video recorded, with the opportunity to review the video before it is published (see these tips). That’s an alternate strategy that’s perfectly valid — I just see Facebook Live as an ideal way of reaching a larger audience, if the speakers and contest organizers can agree on it.

District 47 humorous speech contest winner
District 47’s 2016 humorous speech contest winner Jason Blank and friends.

Proposal: Facebook Live broadcast of District Humorous Speech Contest

I’m writing to suggest we take an advantage of a publicity, recruiting, and social media marketing opportunity by broadcasting the district humorous speech contest on Facebook Live.

I have been a proponent of video recording the contest speeches for the past several years, but a live broadcast from the event could be more engaging and reach a larger audience. If you agree, the planning and preparation would need to start soon — at least as soon as we know who won the division contests.

This would only work if all the contestants agree in advance and complete the video release form from Toastmasters International. This would be a live broadcast, meaning there will be no opportunity for the speakers to review the video before it is published. (However, we might offer them the option of having their video removed from the replay after the fact — I doubt anyone would request that, but it might be reassuring for them to know they have the option of destroying the evidence if they really mess up on stage).

I would NOT suggest doing this for the International Speech Contest, as the winners are often sensitive about not wanting to “tip off the competition” by sharing the video beyond the club. But the humorous speech contest is ideal, engaging content, and a chance to show off some of the best talent in our district. If this experiment works well, I also would suggest doing Facebook Live for the Table Topics competition in the spring.

Why Facebook Live

If you’re an active Facebook user, you have probably seen the alerts that some contact in your network or some business page you’ve subscribed to is going live with a Facebook video. These productions range from professional broadcasts to extremely amateur selfie video. The Online Presenters club I founded recently did a workshop (see replay) with the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies on the Facebook Live tactics available to small businesses and nonprofits.

Live video tends to command more attention because there is more of a reason to turn in right now while an event (such as our contest) is happening. When a Facebook user tunes in and “likes” or comments on a live video, their friends who are online at that moment will also get an alert and may tune in, broadening our reach. We can do some advance promotion to tune in at the time we expect the conference to begin by visiting the District Facebook page – and that they should “like” the page to get an alert when the broadcast starts.

We can also make an announcement encouraging the in person attendees to share the feed as it is starting (right before they turn off or at least silence their phones and turn their full attention to the speakers).

Speakers can encourage family members or club members who are not in attendance but would like to see the speech to tune in.

I would also suggest doing a press release mentioning that the contest will be broadcast on Facebook Live – a detail that might make publications more likely to publish the release, send a reporter, or perhaps tune in for our broadcast.

Logistical Details

In addition to obtaining the video release forms from the speakers, here is how I would recommend setting this up:

  • The Facebook Live broadcast should be sent out from the district Facebook page, not a personal profile. The camera operator will need administrative access to that page (at least for the duration of the event).
  • The simplest way of doing a Facebook Live broadcast is from a smartphone (fully charged, with a couple of auxiliary battery packs handy!).
  • Use WIFI rather than the cellular network. If the conference room facility WIFI isn’t trustworthy, consider bringing in your own wireless router and connecting to the Internet with a hard wire. Work out the details with the facility well in advance.
  • The camera operator needs to be seated close to the stage. Although smartphone cameras works surprisingly well, audio and video quality will be much better if the camera is close to the subject.
  • Bring in additional lighting, rather than what is built into the conference room. Video quality will be better if the speakers are well lit.
  • The humorous speeches are engaging content, but the minute of silence between speeches is not. I suggest having a team of people recruited to post comments and keep the conversation lively during that period. If you do not like the idea of people in the room fidgeting with their phones, recruit allies who will not be attending in person to help keep the conversation active during that time.
  • End the Facebook Live program after the last speaker but announce that the broadcast will resume for the announcement of the winners.
  • Consider doing an additional Facebook Live broadcast as an interview with the winner.

I am sure there will be other details to be worked out, but that’s everything I can think of right now. If you adopt this proposal, I will be happy to do what I can to contribute to making it work, along with your public relations and social media team.

David F. Carr, versatile and inventive writer, editor, and web consultant
Author, Social Collaboration for Dummies
See my work on Forbes, connect with me on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook