Should we move our club from online to hybrid or in-person?

The answer is… it depends. I believe that this decision should be up to the individual club members to decide what is best for their club at this time, what is safest for your members and, of course, local your local government guidelines.

Now that Toastmasters from around the world have had a taste of online meetings, and many clubs have international guests that have actually joined their clubs – it makes sense to keep those relationships going by either continuing online or considering what a hybrid club would look like for you.

I have talked about what is possible with a number of Toastmasters trios and other leaders. The general consensus is to do what is best for the members and the culture of the club. But how do you do that? What does it look like?

The board of directors needs to outline a COVID exit strategy for the organization and update our plans with clear strategies and guidelines for our leaders. In the meantime, here are some of the options that clubs are considering:

STAY ONLINE: Many clubs may opt to simply stay online and quite enjoy it. All three of my Toastmasters clubs are opting for remaining heavily online – with some members getting together in pairs (mostly couples but also tech-savvy with those needing tech support).

HYBRID: The challenge with hybrids is to ensure the same quality of meeting for both onsite and online attendees. A number of our corporate clubs and university clubs may be blessed with web conferencing technology in their offices and classrooms – so going hybrid may be a breeze. But community clubs may find it harder to get good Wi-Fi and the tech to transition to hybrid for larger groups. See the infographic below for some hybrid meeting setup options to consider.

Some options for hybrid meeting setups for Toastmasters clubs.

As an international meeting planner – I have been doing hybrid meetings since the early 2000’s – connecting city and country hubs through technology. Often this was very expensive, challenging to implement, and involved lots of tech. But these days, it can be done in a more practical and simple way. From the basics of a few hand-held tablets and a screen – to more complicated setups.

ALTERNATING WEEKS: Blue Heron Toastmasters in Pitt Meadows, BC, Canada – have been meeting in-person “safely” outside one week and meeting online the next week – a compromise version of hybrid. They plan to go fully in-person eventually when local authorities allow it.

IN PERSON: Of course, many of the club members (and those past members that left due to “Zoom fatigue”) – are eager to get “back to normal”. I expect there will be a few clubs transitioning back to “only in-person” meetings as soon as they can do so safely.

No matter which option your club decides, I wish you will celebrate every speech and every learning in a safe space that is fun and enjoyable for everyone in your club.

Happy Toastmastering!

Some Toastmasters articles on Hybrid Meetings:

Some Toastmasters articles and resources for Online Meetings:

If you are considering hosting hybrid club meetings, check out some of these online meetings tips and resources from Toastmasters International – to help your members that are online during your hybrid meetings.

Helpful Resources for Online Meetings from Toastmasters International:

  • Tools: infographics, timing backgrounds, online member flyers, best practices & tip sheets
  • How-to Videos: tips for meeting participants, online meeting roles, and club officers
  • Quick Reads: How-to’s and great insights

Let’s talk about what is possible. Reach out for an interview – what are your thoughts about getting your clubs “back to normal”?