Online clubs are coming


A new kind of Toastmasters Club

The times they are a-changin
Bob Dylan’s song was prophetic in 1964 when he released it. It was true then and it is strikingly true now of my experience of Toastmaster administration and marketing since I joined in 1995.


I didn’t have email then, and it wasn’t part of our member contact list at all – postal address and phone number – that was it. What about now? There are a few members in a few clubs who don’t have email. And they are a problem because clubs, District Officers and World Headquarters itself now use email almost exclusively to communicate with members.

The new communication frontier

It’s the internet of course. And of course it’s “of course” to most, but not all, of our members right now. Right now a powerful communication method is sweeping through the internet in a similar way to email replacing snail mail. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. MySpace. Facebook – Prime Minister Rudd had great success in the election campaign with his Facebook site. There are many other examples springing up right now, across the net. They are coming in right now, and soon using them will be commonplace among many or most of our members, and, even more importantly, among our non members who might be persuaded to join Toastmasters.

Netmasters is showing the way

Netmasters Toastmasters Club has just been set up in WA to investigate, to trial and to use these new communication methods to recruit new members, to enhance club activities and to pioneer the setting up of online clubs.

An online Toastmasters Club?

WA is a very big state – 1/3 of Australia. We have recently chartered Touch of Gold Toastmasters in Kalgoorlie, but outside Kalgoorlie there are many mining centres. Workers there can’t get into Kalgoorlie to attend the meetings. Oh, that’s their tough luck! Isn’t it. We can’t provide any Toastmasters experience for them. Or to the tens of thousands now of similar workers scattered through the booming Pilbara mining region in the north west and south east of the state.

Or can we?

Michael Malone, CEO of Iinet and President of Durack Toastmasters, is one of our many innovative and visionary WA Toastmaster leaders. He thinks we can. No, he knows we can. The technology exists right now to conduct effective Toastmaster meetings that bring together members from all around our enormous state – and our enormous country Australia – and the world itself. They can’t physically come to a meeting next Tuesday evening from Port Hedland, Broome, Coober Pedy, Yallourn, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Devonport, Beijing, etc, but they can all meet online next Tuesday night.

It will be a bumpy ride

There will be technical problems, but they will be easy to solve, using today’s technology and tomorrow’s which will be even more efficient and user friendly. The big problems will be around mindsets. Some, perhaps many will claim – You have to physically attend a venue. You have to stand up in front of an audience to deliver a speech – otherwise it’s not public speaking. Toastmasters will never agree to charter an online club!!!!! We will see.

What do you think

Post your comment and join in the discussion.

6 Responses to “Online clubs are coming”

  1. Avatar for Jeff Oliver Jeff Oliver says:

    Good for you. Why not.

    As you say, mindsets are a challenge, theirs and yours 🙂

    What will success look like?

    My hunch is that such a club, and there may one day be many forms, can contribute to the evolution of on-line skills, not just the skill of broadcasting, but of communicating, which ain’t the same animal, on-line. Think intimacy, support, training, conversation.

    This may appeal to the money-makers among us, on-line multi-levelers etc., but consider how contributing an occasional hour COMMUNICATING with one of the millions of people (the $100 computer people) scrabbling with limited human resources to learn how to communicate in English, could be the most effective contribution that we might make in our lives!

    For them it could be a rare chance to ‘get a life’.

    But for the skill to be useful it would best be non-pontifical (unlike this comment :-).

    Can the club discover how to develop effective on-line, face-to-face communication?

    How will you measure progress and success? 😉

  2. Avatar for Bill Griffiths (Billy G) Bill Griffiths (Billy G) says:

    Congratulations to all concerned! David, may you receive not only the compliments but also the recognition you richly deserve for your effort in making this a reality! As a refugee from Jarassic Park myself, I can only watch and learn how to maximise the opportunities this new and vital (to Western Australia) concept will deliver. The tyranny of distance has been nulified for those who would improve their ability to speak via Netmasters Toastmasters Club.

    All power to all.
    Billy G

  3. Avatar for Liz Sheridan Liz Sheridan says:

    Hi all,
    just checking the wa site for COT & speechcraft training dates, and low and behold, an Online Toastmasters club – What a brilliant idea! …
    Yes, my first thought was that you must be present and amongst it all, but I remember once years ago having to record a message to a tape, and how challenging I found that! .. so it will bring its own set of skills to play, as Billy G says, and certainly mindsets will have to change for some. But the rewards .. infinate for those physically and geographically challenged, and those tied up at home with children and or elderly relatives, and what about nursing homes n hospitals? .. it could also be an easier option to start with for those who feel so socially inept that they just cant physically come along? It could indeed be “their chance to get a life” as Jeff said …
    Wonderful Wonderful .. social networking at its very best! .. bring it on! .. It can only be good.! Congratulations David and to all those involved… Liz Sheridan, Mandjar Speakers
    PS Any chance we could have a gander at some of the results from that team of uni students doing the research .. is that possible? …

  4. Avatar for Gerry Prewett Gerry Prewett says:

    Fantastic idea!

    Toastmasters is about communication and the internet provides many forms of communication.

    Podcasting is the verbal form. I regularly ‘listen’ to the UK news on The Guardian and The Daily telegraph Podcasts.

    Websites can succeed or fail on the basis of the written content. Presentation is, naturally key. As Marshall McLuhan wrote back in the 60’s the Medium is the Message. In this case the medium is an electronic forum,

    MessageBoards or e-mail discussion groups can succeed or fail by the strength of the Administrator of the list or forum.

    The potential for such a group is massive and please count me in!

  5. Avatar for Linc Goodwin ph 90370138 Linc Goodwin ph 90370138 says:

    Let’s use the technology available.
    I and my family live north of Kal. at sunny Leinster.
    Once I finally sort out the many bugs I’m finding with my online world, count me in..but it probably doesn’t help me with the thankyou speech I have to give this Saturday night. We’ve organized a charity Ball to support local ladies recovering from Breast cancer and are on track to raise close to $50 000.
    As part of the committee, I’ve been chosen to give a welcome and thankyou speech. I also wanted to touch on how such a unique and supporting place our town can be.We are mostly thrown together because we seek more from life and more for our family…I think I’ll use this!
    Back to the point.I think I have the basics for writing speech but needed help with refinement and the delivery.
    Not sure if you can help keeping in mind our Ball is Saturday, if not I’ll be very interested with any online club you look to set up.
    Linc Goodwin 90370138

  6. Avatar for Dave Keays Dave Keays says:

    Has anything become of this? At an online education site I’m on there is some talk about starting a club that would meet online. The group,, uses the Adobe Connect platform.

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