Unexpected new benefits from tackling the COVID challenge.


What happens to a Toastmasters International club when lockdown strikes? We learn how to develop our speaking skills online.

Zooming ahead

When COVID-19 hit the world moved online – and we joined them. On 26th March, two weeks after our previous meeting at The Outlook, we held our first meeting using Zoom. We were determined that nothing was going to prevent us from giving our members the best learning experience we could.

When COVID-19 hit the world moved online – and we joined them. On 26th March, two weeks after our previous meeting at The Outlook, we held our first meeting using Zoom. We were determined that nothing was going to prevent us from giving our members the best learning experience we could.

The members voted on moving our meeting times from 6:15pm to 7:15pm to better fit their changing situations. It also allowed us time to assist any who were struggling with the technology. Soon all of our members were actively participating and speaking online in our meetings, despite some never having done anything like it before.

Competing online

Cathy wins the trophy

For a few of us this was a particularly challenging time to be a Toastmaster. Competition season had begun and speakers were preparing to go through to their next stages. Martlesham and Mildenhall were replaced by Zoom for online contests at area and division level. Eventually the district (UK and Ireland) and the International conference (which would have been Paris this year) were all held online. An opportunity for many who would not have been able to attend such a fantastic event otherwise.

We hurriedly learnt to compete online. We improved our camera angles, adapted our gestures and props and found out how to move our speeches from stage to screen. Speaking online was not in the minds of any of our competitors when they signed up to the contests, but they took up the challenge and members of Ipswich Electrifiers had great success.

Competing was just the start, there was even more to learn in organising, chairing and judging the online contests. We learnt a lot, we learnt fast and we learnt together. We had a few hiccups, but not too many and the end results were a great success. After the events, virtual after parties sprung up across the country, hosted by our newly created ‘Zoom masters’.

New friends and old

Only a few members join to take part in contests. For those that chose to compete they find it a fantastic way to push their skill and comfort zone to the next level. Most come to develop their speaking and leadership skills within the club and then stay for the camaraderie. Being online has given us the opportunity to catch up with past members who have relocated. We’ve welcomed visitors from around the globe and even hold a joint meeting with another UK club. When we say we are a supportive club that is exactly what we focus on; right now we all need that extra bit of support and connection.

Moving forward

The Outlook where we hope to return to soon
Home of Ipswich Electrifiers

Of course, we still continue to welcome interested visitors and new members from wherever they are. We are working on the plans for returning back to in-person meetings when the time is right; the welfare of our members will always be the clubs priority and the decision will be taken by the members. For now we will continue developing our leading and speaking skills in the virtual world which is clearly going to be an important part of things to come.

Want to know more?

If you are a guest to this site and would like to visit one of our meetings please email our VP membership on membership@ipswichelectrifiers.org.uk or join our meetup group for reminders and to RSPV to our meetings.

You can find out more about Ipswich Electrifiers and developing your speaking and leadership skills by taking a look around this site and visiting Toastmasters International.