COVID-19 Message from the District 53 Senior Team
Updated May 20, 2021
Toastmasters District 53 continues to monitor and follow the news about the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have now run our first District Virtual Conference, including our Humorous and International contests, keynote presentations, online workshops, Hall of Fame, and installation of officers. On May 8, we ran our third-ever online business meeting with almost-perfect ease and grace. The trio extends its thanks to the Conference Committee, chaired by David S. Freedman, DTM.
Due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, District 53 will continue to conduct online events only for the remainder of the 2020-21 program year ending on 30 June 2021. Despite the lifting of public health restrictions, many of our historical venues for TLIs, club officer trainings, and leadership events remain closed for the use of outsiders. Additionally, several Toastmasters clubs have closed permanently, which has shut off our access to some college campuses, churches and schools. There is a need to find new venues for our events before in-person programming can resume in the 2021-22 program year beginning 1 July 2021 — and this is especially true given our restructuring from seven to five Divisions.
More than ever, we ask clubs to be alert to the possibilities of outreach beyond your immediate members. It has been an unusually hard year for club closures and member attrition, as you all know — and recruitment of new members, the chartering of new clubs, and youth and adult outreach are all dependent on your members.
We recommend that clubs pay attention to and follow local guidance from public health agencies and reputable news sources in their decision-making about re-opening.
At this time, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York all continue to recommend caps on public and semi-public gatherings for both indoor and outdoor events. However, all three states are making rapid changes in response to guidance from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). Keeping your club in line with local guidance, and with your members’ own comfort-level, is the best procedure for the moment.
Be aware that many club meeting sites and venues may have decided to maintain more cautious guidelines than the state or city, and that some venues may have closed permanently. Conduct your negotiations with your old site in a spirit of Integrity and Respect, remembering that you represent Toastmasters as a whole when you speak on behalf of your club’s needs. Follow the same principles in negotiating with a new venue. Please remember to keep your information updated on Toastmasters.org in Club Central whenever you change meeting times, meeting locations, or club name — and that all such changes require a vote of membership at a regularly scheduled and announced club business meeting.
The Board of Directors has made the exception that all clubs in all Districts can meet entirely online as needed until further notice. Keep up with the latest Toastmasters news on the pandemic here (https://www.toastmasters.org/resources/news%20and%20announcements/covid-19).
Publicizing Online Meetings
Looking to grow your attendance or membership and capitalize with online access? There are great ways to do that safely and securely.
Security is Important
- Ask for an email or other verifiable information from potential guests.
- Get a phone number from guests, and call them ahead of the meeting.
- Don’t reveal your online meeting link ahead of time. Deliver it to members and guests privately.
- Advertise the email or Facebook link to make contact with your club, and check that resource regularly.
- Make a phone call and talk to would-be guests before inviting them to the online meeting.
- Use social media accounts (Meetup, Facebook, Twitter, and more) to funnel potential guests toward a group of clear points of contact: a single email, facebook name, and a single phone number.
- Don’t make one person responsible for all methods, but designate one person as the manager of each type of contact.
"Online" Club Designation
If you are meeting online, you should let District and Toastmasters website visitors know. Indicate that in your Club Demographic section of Club Central on toastmasters.org by clicking the "Yes" button for Online Attendance. This will let members and potential guests know that individuals can participate in the club online.
The District has a Meetup account where we promote the open clubs. If your club is meeting online and open to guests, please EMAIL us to let us know so that we can properly promote your club.
Please let us know if that information is incorrect, so that we can update it and help you welcome new guests and potential new members through the Meetup Channel.
Online Meeting Resources
Toastmasters International Online Meetings Page
Five page guide to help role-holders conduct Zoom online meetings
Zoom Video Conferencing
WebEx Video Conferencing
Updated Information from Toastmasters International
At this time, District 53 interprets the guidance from the Board of Directors of Toastmasters International to include:
- All Area, Division, and District Contests will occur online;
- The Annual District Conference may be online or in-person, as local circumstances and the vote of the District Council or DEC may warrant;
- The Semi-annual District Business Meeting may be online or in-person during the Annual District Conference.
District 53 expects updated guidance from the Toastmasters International Board of Directors prior to April 1, 2021.
Toastmasters International Coronavirus Update
Toastmasters International continues to monitor the effects of the disease on our clubs, members, and upcoming and current District events. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted the daily lives of Toastmasters around the world, and the Board of Directors have taken actions to support members and clubs. You can read about them in the communications section below. The health and safety of all Toastmasters is our top priority.
Refer to the Toastmasters COVID-19 webpage for the latest messages and updates from International Headquarters. Please watch this accompanying video from International President Richard E. Peck regarding the coronavirus.