“Castaween”: a successful online experiment.

How to achieve virtual victories: online meeting tips & tricks.

Toastmasters (the entire organization) and our club as well, had to adapt to this challenging year marked by COVID-19. We did it moving from in-person to online meetings.

After many iterations going on all around the globe with more than 16.000 clubs in 143 countries and the experience of the recent online edition of the World Championship of Public Speaking, Toastmasters International just published a really interesting infographic about how to conduct successful online meetings. Our acting president Marcel Muntaner opened our session by inviting us to check it at Toastmasters.org (more info here). The mains takeaway of the infographic are listed below.

Feel confident in online meetings:

  • Make eye contact with your camera
  • Think about your background (avoid distractions)
  • Use gestures but just don’t go out of frame
  • Test your technology “before” the meeting
  • Stand (or sit) tall
  • Treat it like any other meeting (dress, speak, behave)
  • Mute your microphone whenever you aren’t speaking
  • Use proper lighting
  • Eliminate noise

As common for our session at Sagrada Familia Toastmasters, we had a specific theme for this meeting. In this case, the theme of the day was: traditions.

We celebrated Halloween and the more local “Castañada” typical from Catalunya (more info here). Mixing these two traditions, that are converging because of globalization, you get the interesting concept of “Castaween”. Double the celebration… double fun, isn’t it?

The theme is selected by the club member that is acting as the Toastmasters of the day. This time we had the opportunity to enjoy the performance of Mercedes Ruiz Gallud as Toastmaster. She told us about the origins of many different traditions, introducing all the participants of the sessions. Congratulation Mercedes, absolutely well done!

This crucial role (Toastmaster) is the meeting’s director and is responsible for guiding the audience through the session and setting the tone. There are many different roles that you could perform during a club meeting and all of them are speaking opportunities. Practice at the end it’s the best option we all have to improve our public speaking skills. As our club members start to know how our session works and to get more confident they can assume more demanding roles as the Toastmaster one.

What you could expect from a Toastmasters club session?

Well… you can definitely expect a welcoming and relaxed environment where members and guests can practice, learn a lot, and enjoy the show and contents. You can expect also a lot of preparation. We are keen to deliver great meeting experiences. This time we had to improvise with a new structure of the meeting,… a real “Castaween” experiment. With just one prepared speech (normally up to 3 during a meeting), we decided to compensate with 2 Table Topic sessions instead of one.

Our Table Topic Masters of the day (Victor Piqué and Juan Escobar) helped us improving our improvisation skills. They challenged the audience answering questions like:

  • How would you survive a zombie attack with a 1-minute survival speech?
  • Tell us about your version of Charlie Brown’s quote: “Never discuss Politics, Religion or The Great Pumpkin”. Build a 2-minute speech about that.
  • What do you think about Groucho Marx quote? “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”.

Ricard González, guest from another club here in Barcelona, joined us to deliver his incredible speech entitled: Who Else Has a Story To Tell?

He told us about the movie direct Martin Scorsese. According to Ricard the key of Scorsese’s success is that for each movie “he had a story to tell”. Ricard invited us to share the stories behind our participation at Toastmasters, uncovering our path and improvements. He motivated us to payback, helping, and inspiring people with our own story. He is currently collecting experiences from club members to create a documentary about it. And you? Do you have a story to tell?

We’ll be more than happy to have you as a guest at our next online meeting. Book your spot now and see you online soon (book here).

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