Activities at Valley Town
The Zoom Immersive Experience
October 14, 2021
At our most recent Thursday meeting, our meeting chair Emily Nichols introduced us to the Zoom Immersive experience. At Valley Town our motto is 'laughing and learning', and we are always happy to explore learning the latest in how the world is adapting to the online meeting experience.
Meeting in person (finally)
Thanks to Kenrick Chin for the photos, and Darryl Hartwick for the montage
Valley Town Zoom-iversary
From the Dundas Star, June 28, 2021 - Author Darryl Hartwick
Dundas Valley Town Toastmasters celebrate Zoom-iversary
When COVID-19 forced members of Valley Town Toastmasters to pull up stakes from their meeting space at the Dundas Town Hall last April, no one thought they would still be laughing and learning in the virtual world in May of 2021 and beyond. But the club’s members marked a historic milestone recently: 13 months of meeting weekly on Zoom.
The two-hour online meetings have become a soft and supportive place to land for members during the many lockdowns and stay-at-home orders necessitated by COVID infection rates over the past year. Members use words such as “safe,” “community,” “motivating” and “rejuvenating” to describe how the club has helped them navigate life during a pandemic.
David Hayes is the club’s vice-president of membership. He said the need to pivot from in-person weekly sessions to online meetings has been a challenging evolutionary process.
“We are still able to see and talk with each other,” said Hayes. “This maintains my connection to people I consider my Valley Town Toastmasters family. I truly value that, and I look forward to seeing them each week.”
The doors of the club’s usual meeting place in the Dundas Town Hall auditorium have been locked tight for months now. So, the 20 members use their weekly Thursday evening sessions on Zoom to help each other grow their communication and leadership skills. Lately, that includes frequent reminders to make eye contact with the camera lens above the computer screen and a gentle nudge to turn on the laptop’s microphone before starting to speak.
Karen Wood has been a member of the club for the past dozen years and through a lot of hard work has achieved the designation of “Distinguished Toastmaster” from Toastmasters International. Karen concedes she was somewhat reluctant to hold virtual meetings when the COVID restrictions began last year.
“I'm not technically inclined. I know that each time I reach for the computer, it means a mental workout and a continuing learning curve. However, some members saw the potential to learn new skills such as presenting online in front of a camera.”
“These are valuable skills to have in the 21st century. So, I conceded, and I am so glad that I did,” she said.
Toastmasters International migrated its cornerstone education program online when it introduced Pathways a couple of years ago. Projects on eleven different interactive paths allow members to build real-world transferable skills at their own pace under the umbrella of leadership and communication. Topics include motivation, collaboration, leadership development and presentation mastery.
However, beyond the formal education program, Valley Town Toastmasters meetings have become an important self-care resource. Members can count on an outlet where they can share their experiences, fears and success stories each week. Peter Wallace sits on the club’s executive board and said the regular Thursday evening meetings bring some order to much of the disorder associated with the pandemic.
With such a diverse group of individuals, it provides a level set on the unique challenges and hardships faced by individuals. But (it also) provides a much-needed positivity boost and a reminder that we are indeed ‘all in this together.’ ”
Valley Town Toastmasters achieve personal and professional success by laughing and learning together each Thursday between 7 and 9 p.m.