Policy for Admitting Members, Including New Toastmasters

Online Presenters is an advanced club that chartered with all experienced Toastmasters, but we leave open the possibility of admitting members who do not have prior experience in Toastmasters but do have other relevant experience.

On Feb. 27, 2017, the new club officers voted to recommend the following policy for adoption by the club members, governing how we will admit members in general and particularly those who do not meet the normal requirement of having completed 6 or more Competent Communicator projects.

Proposed Policy

To be admitted to Online Presenters, a prospective member must:

Attend at least 2 meetings as a guest.

Make a Table Topics-length speech on why they want to join. (This may be done on the 2nd guest visit, time permitting).

If the prospective member does not meet the requirement of previous Toastmasters experience (>6 CC speeches), a waiver must be granted by a simple majority vote of the officers that the individual meets the standard of relevant experience for admission. Votes may be accepted via email or other electronic means. The board vote will NOT be held as part of the public meeting. If the board does not approve the waiver, the prospective member will be informed privately and encouraged to reapply after gaining some experience in Toastmasters through another club.

Once these requirements are met, the prospective member will be asked to submit an application and payment.

Per Toastmasters protocol, members must also be voted in by the members present at a regular meeting.

Charter Officer Nominees

Update: these are officially our charter club officers.

These are the paid members who have volunteered to run for election at our February 27 meeting. Additional nominations will be taken from the floor.

President David Carr
VP Education Risa Blair
VP Public Relations Paul Finkelstein
VP Membership Fabiola Cleofa
Treasurer John Quick
Sgt. at Arms Arlene Jayme
Secretary Carol Prahinski

How Digital Collaboration Is Changing the World of Work (Keynote for Online Toastmasters Inter-Club Contest)

This is a replay of a keynote speech I delivered online, to an international audience, just after 3:30 am my time Sunday morning.

When I heard that the family of online Toastmasters clubs was organizing its first inter-club speech contest, at first, honestly, I didn’t plan to attend — not because I wasn’t interested, but because the global nature of the event would make it challenging from my timezone. It was scheduled to start at 8:30 am UTC — a typical morning start time for a Toastmasters weekend event for those in Europe or Sunday evening for folks in Australia.

Then they flattered me with the offer of a keynote speaking slot, and I couldn’t resist. In addition to the undeniable ego boost, I knew preparing for this opportunity would be a valuable chance to try out some new material. I have what online Toastmasters would call a “land-based” opportunity coming up that I need to practice for.

In June, I will be keynoting at a Digital Collaboration conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Even though I had a similar engagement a few months ago in Berlin, I didn’t feel I connected with the audience as well as I should have on that outing and want to make sure I am prepared to maximize the impact of my next appearance — and maybe inspire someone in the audience to invite me to more professional speaking opportunities.

As explained in the video, I covered social business and collaboration technologies for InformationWeek, wrote the book Social Collaboration for Dummies and currently consult on the marketing of RingCentral Glip. One of the reasons I started Online Presenters is I see online video meetings becoming an increasingly common element of how we interact with our coworkers, which means we ought to get good at it. RingCentral is supporting the club by allowing us to use RingCentral Meetings (its co-branded and integrated version of Zoom) for our meetings.

Thanks to event organizer Mathilde Fischer and to the whole team of volunteers from around the world for letting me be part of their event.

Online Presenters Charter Membership Drive

Online Presenters in the middle of its a membership drive to recruit the 20+ Toastmasters members we will need to charter as an official club (target date: March 1). Application and online payment links at

We are already close to that goal, with about 15 people already signed up and several others promising to get their dues and paperwork in over the next few days. I drummed up some additional interest in the past day by looking through my network of LinkedIn contacts (including people I’m connected to for reasons outside of Toastmasters) for everyone who mentioned Toastmasters on their profile. Help spread the word — we’re going to make this great!

The Online Presenters Toastmasters Club caters to those who give online presentations professionally, or aspire to do so, whether that means public webcasts and live video or internal company video conferences and screen sharing sessions. We welcome experienced Toastmasters with an interest in learning those skills, as well as future Toastmasters with relevant professional experience. Club founder David F. Carr wrote about the need in an article for Forbes, Improving Skills for Webinars, Online Meetings.

Those who sign up by Feb. 27 will have an opportunity to get a speech evaluation from Roger Courville, an authority on online presentation skills (See: Online Presenters Toastmasters March 6 Workshop with Roger Courville for Charter Members).

We are currently recruiting experienced Toastmasters. Once we are official, we hope to also recruit people who have relevant skills and experience even if they are not yet Toastmasters.

Online Presenters Toastmasters March 6 Workshop with Roger Courville

See: Replay: Online Presenters Workshop with Roger Courville

Roger Courville, an authority on webinar and online presentation skills, will be a special guest evaluator at the March 6 meeting of Online Presenters Toastmasters. He also shared his ideas in a recent Toastmasters webinar (see below), but this is your opportunity to meet with him directly in a workshop setting.

Monday March 6 7:30 PM EST (formal meeting starts at 8)
Timezone conversion –

RSVP to attend as a guest.

Online Presenters is a new Toastmasters club (charter paperwork submitted March 1), that meets online and focuses on developing webinar and online presentation skills.

Three of our charter members will have the opportunity to give a 5-7 minute speech. A longtime Toastmaster, Roger Courville had advocated for online presentation programming to be included in Toastmasters before it was officially allowed. A veteran of the online conferencing industry (since the modem days of 1999), Roger has taught tens of thousands people worldwide, and he’s reached tens of thousands more with writing appearances, interviews, and while sitting in airports.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the replay of the Toastmasters District 47 webinar he participated in, it’s here:

Ah Counter Experiment and Report Summary from February 6, 2017

Technology Setup

I experimented with a visual setup for the first time as the ah counter in our online meeting. Here is a summary of what I did on the technology side:

  • Set up a green screen background in my physical space
  • Used streaming software (free version of XSplit in this case) to alter the video feed using text, images, drawings, etc. In particular, I used a digital whiteboard to tally the items of interest and display them on screen in real time.
  • Fed the streaming software’s altered video (rather than my direct camera feed) into our meeting software
  • Captured screenshots of the final result for sharing after the meeting

Ah Counter’s Report

I kept tallies for our group as a whole. This focused on the use of ah (46), um (16), and so (24). The major thing I noticed in the overall group was that almost everyone says ah and/or um the moment they first engage with the group. Coming online from being muted is a bit of an “awakening” that leaves us uncertain of our connection (ah = “testing 1, 2”) or flustered and searching for what to say.

I also kept individual tallies for the presenters of prepared speeches. These were more detailed than the whole group. Ironically, compared to the group, there was very little use of ah and um.

  • Carole’s speech was generally quite clear with minimal use of filler and unnecessary connection words. Ah (0), So (8), Um (2), And (4).

  • For Paul, I noted the use of a few additional transitions. Ah (2), So (5), Um (0), And (19), Double Clutch / Restarts (6), Now (1), Well (4), OK (1), Needless to Say (1). Notably, Paul made heavy use of the word “and” to start thoughts and fill gaps.

Online Presenters Toastmasters Meeting Software Tips

I prepared this tutorial to cover the basics of how to mute / unmute, select a specific video feed, and show “timing lights.” These tips apply to Zoom (we’re using RingCentral Meetings, but it’s based on Zoom). The timing light tip should also work with other platforms.

At our kickoff meeting, Arlene Jayme showed how she uses a program called SparkoCam to superimpose a timing light image on her video feed. I suggest checking whether your computer came with any pre-installed webcam software. My HP laptop came with a program called CyberLink YouCam that I found fit the purpose.

Low tech solution for timer: green, yellow, and red pieces of paper you hold up in front of your webcam.

How to Keep the Video Fixed on the Speaker

Our online meetings platform is RingCentral Meetings, which is based on the Zoom video platform (thank you to RingCentral for sponsoring our account). By default, the software decides which video to feature on screen based on where it detects sound. This works well during a conversation or an interview, but when someone is giving a speech we do not want the view to be shifting away from the speaker to an audience member who may have coughed or made some other noise.

On a desktop computer, you can “pin” the video feed you want to be featured.  Each viewer needs to take that action (it’s not controlled by the meeting leader).

Here is the explanation from the Zoom documentation:

Pin screen allows you disable active speaker view and view a specific speaker only.  It will also only record the pinned screen/speaker. Pinning another user’s video will only affect your local view, not the view of other participants.

  • Right-Click on PC or Left-Click on Mac the users video to bring up options
  • Select pin video

Proposed Policy and Procedure for Recordings, Use of Stills and Video

I added a notice at the top of the agenda that reads:

THIS MEETING WILL BE RECORDED. Stills and excerpts from the video may be used by the club in its public relations and social media outreach.

At our kickoff meeting, I asked if anyone objected to me recording the meeting, and no one did. I followed up later to ask permission to use stills and video from the meeting. I would like to establish a standing policy that we will provide clear notice of intent to record the meeting up front and deal with the exceptions as necessary.

My intent is to duplicate the educational and social media marketing advantages my (offline) home club enjoys from regular video recording of speeches. At Club Awesome, we typically record all the formal speeches and sometimes also table topics and evaluations. The majority of the videos are never shared beyond the club, but the speakers have the opportunity to review them for educational purposes.

When lightning strikes, and someone gives a particularly good speech that they allow us to share, that is a nice marketing asset for the club. We don’t necessarily know ahead of time which speeches will be the exceptional ones. I can also extract still images from the video, which makes it much easier to capture essentially “candid” photos from speeches and presentations.

In an offline club, the way we deal with the etiquette is that during the introduction of roles the videographer announces the ground rules — that the recordings are primarily made for educational purposes, meaning for the speaker’s own review, and we will ask permission before sharing them more widely.

There were some questions about the video policy when we first started, but by now it is part of the culture of the club. Visitors see the camera in use during speeches before they join, so it is not a surprise to them.

We also routinely take candid photos during our meetings and share them on Facebook or the club website without feeling the need to go through some legalistic photo release process. Again, it’s the accepted culture of the club that we operate this way. Our website and our visibility on social media are stronger and richer as a result.

In an online club, I believe the best way of accomplishing something similar is with a clear statement on the agenda, which everyone sees when signing up for roles or registering to attend as a guest. People who feel uncomfortable with this policy can find another club with a different policy.

In practice, the blanket policy should allow for exceptions. The person in possession of the video recording (which in the beginning will be me) should use good judgement about what gets shared and how. We can have some reasonable ground rules, like these:

  • Any member can request that the recording be stopped or paused for their speech or their table topics talk.
  • As a rule, speech videos will be shared as unlisted posts to YouTube, with the links emailed to club members. The email will contain a disclaimer saying the videos should not be shared without the speaker’s permission. Only if the speaker gives permission will they be shared more widely.
  • Sharing stills from the meeting will be treated as the equivalent of sharing candid photos from an offline meeting. It is permitted in this club. Stills should show members in a positive light.

The goal is to be respectful of members and take reasonable precautions to protect their privacy, dignity, and professional image — but without imposing an undue burden on the club. Occasionally, we may have a misfire, where a video is shared inappropriately (the method of publishing YouTube videos as unlisted is not completely secure). We may publish a still photo where the speaker but someone in the background has a funny expression on their face.


My argument is the fear of what could go wrong should not prevent us from taking advantage of what could go right with this approach.