As part of a recent presentation on how to prepare to move to a hybrid club format for Toastmasters, I made a point of saying to think twice before taking the jump. You might want to try hybrid meetings as an experiment first before committing to officially becoming an hybrid club.
See below for a replay of the session, hosted by Positively Impacting Lives Toastmasters in South Florida, District 47.
Many clubs will likely try the hybrid format as a transitional measure coming out of the pandemic, but that does not mean they have to or ought to commit to the hybrid format long term.
My concern is that clubs not stumble into hybrid club operations without thinking through the required equipment and logistical challenges — as well as non-technical issues like moving changing the club culture away from being a community club that identifies with a specific city to accepting visitors and members from anywhere.
While there are advantages to being able to cast a really wide net on a global basis, there are also tradeoffs like having to compete for members with every club in the world, versus just the one that meets on the other side of town. Some clubs will probably hit on a happy medium where they identify primarily as a club that meets at a given location but keep the online option as a way of retaining members who move away. Or perhaps they will attract members who may be distant but have an affinity for the people in the club or the expertise of its members.
All I’m saying is think it through carefully before you go redo your club charter paperwork. We do have an opportunity to experiment during this time when Toastmasters International has relaxed a lot of its rules out of necessity.
If you’re not really sure whether hybrid is the right way for your club to go long term, try it out a few times before you make a commitment.
Of course, if you do take the plunge, I’d urge you to get a more powerful website that offers a lot of support for online and hybrid club operations. But I’d tell you you need a better website if you stick to a traditional club format, too.
One Postcript to the Video
I purposely showed some expensive equipment options during my presentation to force club leaders to think how much they’re willing to spend. However, I should note that the wireless clip-on microphone I showed — while it comes highly recommended — is a top-of-the-line choice that was recommended by Moira O’Brien but is far from the only choice in that category. You could get a less expensive wired or wireless microphone, place it on a mic stand, and have all speakers come to the mic. There are lots of options, and you’ll have to experiment to see what works in your meeting room and with your available budget.
“Hybrid Harmony,” by David F. Carr, DTM, Toastmasters Magazine, April 2021
“Technology for Hybrid Meetings,” by Cajetan A. Barretto, DTM, Toastmasters Magazine May 2021