Trialling a New Course: Starting an Online Club

landing page

I have begun to construct a Thinkific short course for those who wish to start building an online Toastmasters club.

Starting an Online Club

In this course I have been harvesting some of the resources provided by skilled onliners and bringing them together into a cohesive learning experience.

It is raw and unedited at the moment, however, I am willing to share with you so that you can make some comments on its improvement.

I am also requesting help – to harvest the wisdom of the online executive teams who have already experienced the process of starting an online club.

If you would like to contribute text, audio or video pieces to this course, please let me know. You can leave a comment if you subscribe to this blog.

These are specifically required for the latter Chapters of the course.

Here is the Course Outline:




future of online clubs … call to action

What can you do to make a difference in the future of online clubs?

That question has prompted this call to action from those who are currently experiencing membership and/or leadership in online clubs. Perhaps you are a member of a 100% online club or a land based club that accepts online membership? Maybe you are already exploring the potentials of online clubs and how they suit your journey and goals in Toastmasters?

View the slides below and decide now on how you can make a difference!

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Communicate with the Online Alliance in Facebook at:

Online Club Leadership Training

You cannot do that! Why not? It is not yet part of the training sanctioned by the Toastmasters International policy. But it could be in the future! In D73 we are exploring the potentials for providing such training sessions regularly for a continuous learning opportunity. Later we will request that our club officers in regional and remote locations in Australia be enabled to attend online training sessions as an alternative to f2f.

In Central Division of D73, regional SA, online attendance at the physical division led TLI by geographically disadvantaged club officers was successfully implemented in February 2017. This was quite different from “attending online training sessions as an alternative to f2f sessions” and separate from the division training. Says Mark Reynolds.

Similar types of Online Club Leadership Training and special arrangements with TI have been trialled by District Officers in D21 and D96, for club officers in Canada who are disadvantaged by their climate and terrain, especially in winter months. Says Ashwani Kumar Sinha.

As an innovator and a passionate advocate for the benefits of online training in many elearning fields for adult learners, I thought that it was time to ‘just do it’! Then share the learning with you.


Today we trialled some MicroTraining (4 x 20 minute workshops) with interactivity, among a small test group in GoToMeeting! The 1.5 hours online was perfect timing to capture and maintain the attention of the participants. Attendees were either individually connecting on their device or attending as a group. In all cases the audio and video and screen sharing worked well.

Here are my personal learning take aways from this experience:

Report on lessons learned 25 February 2017

1. Discuss plan A and B for presenter options – device specific
A presenter may be in a car on a mobile device or on a ship using a laptop.

Image may contain: table, ocean, sky, outdoor and water
2. Provide plenty of Q & A opportunities – notes in text chat and using webcams and microphones

online training attendees.JPG
3. Provide link to room for presenters – enter room early and provide timely advice for attendees.

Perfect the use of PowerPoint or Keynote. Explore the viewing of embedded videos from the presentation. Like this presentation from Kevin Broughton.

1. Enable & encourage audience members to participate and interact – ask people by name and ask for volunteer responses
online meeting success

2. Keep to a tight time schedule – timing of each segment to 20 mins
3. Provide opportunities for text chat – summarise or paraphrase

Follow UP
1. Provide link to recording asap after event – to participants and in social media

2. Provide copies of presentations to attendees – slides, documents, diagrams

3. Provide followup discussions for wider audience for what’s next – social media forum


What did you learn from reading my post?
What did you learn from attending the Trial D73 Online Leadership Training?
What did you learn from viewing the recording of the Trial D73 Online Leadership Training?

Feel free to comment here in this blog, or join the Toastmasters Without Borders group in Facebook and contribute to the discussions there.

Thank you to Toastmasters Without Borders for hosting this first exploration into the potential of Online Club Leadership Training for D73.

Online Toastmasters: Curious?


Since March 2016 the number of Online Clubs in the chartered and prospective categories have grown – a 184% growth rate. Many publications have featured stories from the Onliners and there are many conversations about them in social media, and I am sure you have heard of them. This the start of something new and exciting that many of you may be interested in including in your Toastmasters journey.

Yes there are 8 online clubs now and more to come soon. Together we are exploring how to:

  • schedule meetings online
  • manage meetings online
  • form strong communication bonds in social media
  • manage club contests online
  • schedule training workshops and Educationals online within club meetings
  • manage inter-club contests online
  • schedule leadership training workshops between clubs
  • bring ideas from all online clubs together as an Alliance

What is it like to be in an online Toastmaster meeting?

A Zoom meeting enables many Toastmasters to be onscreen simultaneously, Gallery View. All can be seen and heard if they choose to share webcams and microphones.

Meeting formats are usually the same as those at land based clubs. Toastmaster introduces the session, the role players and the speakers. General Evaluator introduces the Table Topics Master and the Evaluators. Round Robins may be held at the beginning of a meeting to introduce new members or visitors and a networking session may be held at the end of the meeting. The Timer uses innovative devices to display the times and we have the Grammarian, Ah Counter listening and giving reports.

Here’s how you can benefit from visiting an online club meeting:

In Zoom

  • You can switch from Gallery View to Speaker View to focus on the speaker.
  • You can Pin the video image of the Timer so that it is visible at all times.
  • You can share your screen for presentations and web sharing.
  • You can text chat to participants in general or in private.


Who are they?

Links to the following chartered clubs are available at Find Online Clubs in TI.
These are part of District U, Division O, Area O1.

List of chartered clubs are available at Dashboards in TI:


List of Prospective Online Clubs are available at Dashboards too.


Where can we meet and chat with them?

There are a number of social media groups for Onliners in Facebook that you can explore!

Online Toastmasters
Online Training for Toastmasters
Toastmaster International Online Club
Toastmasters Online
Online Alliance

And these are just the ones I subscribe to. Please leave a comment with a link to others that you would like to see added to this list.

A few individual Online Clubs have a social media or web presence here:

Firebirds Executive  Visit schedules here
Great White North Online Visit schedules here
Netizens Visit schedules here
Witty Storytellers Online Visit schedules here 

Some of the Prospective clubs invite you to join in here:

Toastmasters Without Borders Visit schedules here
Online Presenters Visit schedules here 

How can you visit their club and attend their meetings?

Use the links above to access the easy-Speak site or WordPress site for the clubs and self-select to be a visitor for their meetings. You will find that each club specifies the Time Zone conversions for their meetings on their Agenda pages.

What software do they use to conduct their online meetings?

Most of the current clubs are using GoToMeeting and others are using Zoom. Both of these platforms offer different experiences.

Visit GoToMeeting Support site for downloadable support documents and video tutorials.

Visit the Support site for popular video tutorials.


My passion is for designing effective online training for learners. Over the last decade I have participated in many projects that have collaboratively designed, developed and facilitated online learning programs for elearners in adult education facilities in Australia.

During my 15 years in Toastmasters I have seen the need for online training that would provide a choice for those club officers who are regionally based and remote from capital cities in their countries. They need online opportunities to build their skills, work on projects to enhance their clubs, and network with others who perform similar roles; using structured training methods.

In 2016, when online clubs for Toastmasters emerged, my plans turned towards methods for designing, developing and facilitating online training for their club officers. During my six months as mentor for one such online club, I focused on providing online training for them. This was a High Performance Leadership project with the vision of trialling  Club Officer Training Online an online ‘self-paced course’ accompanied by a series of online workshops.

Lessons learned from that project included possible solutions to the following set of questions:

  1. How can you design and tailor training for club officers in an online club?
  2. How can you develop effective training activities for an online club?
  3. How can you provide any time networking opportunities for participants?
  4. How can effective real time sessions be scheduled for online clubs?
  5. How can you motivate the club officers to undertake the training?

The process used for this HPL project involved three elements:

  • Base Camp – a self-paced suite of modules accessible at any time in Moodlecloud
  • Communication Channel – a closed social media group in Facebook
  • Workshops – a series of real time one hour events using web conferencing tools


The MoodleCloud learning management system was selected as I was already skilled in building courses in this environment and had many years of experience in being a facilitator. However the use of a ‘gated online space’ requiring password entrance was not familiar to participants and was not used in the way it was anticipated.

The Facebook group T.O.A.S.T. (Training Online for Advanced Strategic Toastmasters) was created to enable conversations, notifications and follow up recordings. The group enabled the creation of Events with automatic reminders to the participants.

Click Meeting was selected initially, then discarded as it did not measure up to the quality of audio and video required for the online sessions. GoToMeeting was preferred by participants.

The COTO online workshop experience was scheduled during June/July and featured a series of real time workshops; one per week for six weeks. However, not every officer could attend at the time selected or for all of the sessions.

Lessons Learned: select an online space that does not require any logins for the content and use online social media spaces and web conferencing tools that are familiar to the participants. Most importantly design the learning experiences to fit with the time zone and time availability of the participants.

Club Officer Training Online: Influences

During the next couple of weeks I plan to develop and explore alternative online Microlearning training experiences that would be appropriate for club officers in land based clubs. I acknowledge that frequently, the biggest ‘barriers’ to effective training is the time required to devote to it, including the travel time to attend f2f events. Toastmasters are busy people and effective training will need to fit within their available time OR it will NOT be given a priority rating. Advanced Toastmasters will also NOT be engaged with regurgitated learning that is irrelevant to them. They want timely, relevant, effective and engaging training in small, easily digested chunks.

Toastmaster training for busy club officers could benefit from a Microlearning approach.

Microlearning is the method of breaking up longer courses into their core ideas and delivering them in bite-sized, digestible pieces. Each module consists of just one snackable idea and learners can chow through as many modules as they have time for in each sitting – then return to where they left off the next time they have five minutes to spare.

Source: CourseGenius Blog

A Microlearning approach that takes into consideration the needs and time availability of the learners, would suit Toastmasters.

Club Officer Training Online: Recommendations

I plan to blend the theories of Microtraining and Connectivism when designing the online experiences for busy Toastmaster club officers.


Effective MicroTraining that will fit into the two training months of the year, February and August, would suit the club officers of any Toastmasters club.

The Microtraining method is an approach aimed at supporting informal learning processes in organizations and companies. Learning in this sense means that an active process of knowledge creation is taking place within social interactions, but outside of formal learning environments or training facilities. This process can be facilitated by well-designed and structured systems and by supporting ways of communication and collaboration, like the Microtraining method does. A Microtraining arrangement comprises a time span of 15–20 minutes for each learning session, which can activate and maintain learning processes for a longer period if bundled into series. A Microtraining session can be held face-to-face, online or embedded in an e-learning scenario.

Source: Wikipedia


Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories.

Source: Connectivism by George Siemens

For Toastmasters, connectivism is the effective networking between people that capitalises on the existing relationships and communications between club officers and clubs in Areas, Divisions and Districts.


Stage One: Preparation

I will be guided by these steps in preparing effective training experiences:

  1. research the needs of the club officers as online learners
  2. network with other districts who provide online training
  3. collaborate with a team of trainers who are skilled and experienced in designing effective online experiences for Toastmasters

Stage Two: Design and development

The team will be guided by these steps in designing effective training experiences:

  1. create an online space in which the design of the training can take place
  2. design the elements of an effective Club Officer Training Online program
  3. develop the elements as Microlearning components and real time online Microtraining workshops

Stage Three: Trial and facilitate

The team will be guided by these steps in facilitating effective training experiences:

  1. promote and invite participation from officers in regional and remote land based clubs in Australia
  2. schedule and facilitate a series of 3 real time online workshops to fit the time availability of participants
  3. tailor the program to include any time access to the Microlearning components

At the conclusion of the trial, report on the lessons learned and improvements to be incorporated.

This is the beginning of an innovative approach to Club Officer Training Online!



Online Alliance

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The Online Club phenomenon is travelling at the speed of light! In just nine months Toastmasters has birthed seven new online clubs; while two more pre-charter clubs are gestating. There was a great deal of celebration during those months as online leadership groups began to emerge in social media and online club hopping became a trend. Online executive teams developed new ways of club management online and online club membership grew exponentially. We now have an overall membership in chartered online clubs of 160+ with several dual memberships of two or more online clubs. Online clubs are developing teams of executives – including those who fulfil an assistant role.


Now we are getting somewhere! Perhaps in 2017 we will reach ‘critical mass’ and have a stronger presence among the 119 clubs in District U.

Teams of online club executives are meeting together to discuss the dynamic nature of Toastmaster Online Club experiences. The Online Alliance emerges!

Collaborative support team for inter-club communication, education and strategic planning for Online Toastmasters Clubs

A social media presence was established and key players were invited in to share ideas and advice on all things ‘online club officers’ should know. This group has now grown to 40+ members.


The first Online Alliance Council meeting was held on November 20/21 in the GoToMeeting space hosted by the Firebirds Collective. Club officers and leaders began the process of forming a new community and shaping the future of their alliance. Several agenda items were discussed and among them these significant issues emerged.


We are moving ahead on the idea of Online Contests and this has sparked some interesting debate about the type of contests, how to host, chair and judge them. The first inter-club contest is being planned for February 2017 and will be hosted by the Witty Storytellers Online.

We are keen to design, host and facilitate a series of Online Training opportunities for Online Club Officers and that is where our next main focus will be for the new teams of online club officers in 2017. The Alliance is currently supporting teams of resource developers who are focused on specific aspects of such online training.

The new Pathways program, due for release in 2017, will have significant impact and importance for online clubs and their members. The Alliance includes several members who are current Ambassadors who will form a small team to discuss what Online Clubs will need from the Pathways Guides.

We continue to discuss the vision and mission for the Online Alliance in our social media group and small teams of Technology Managers are now emerging to consider how and where the Alliance should have a web presence.

The next Online Alliance meeting is being planned for a 15/16 January 2017 schedule and will be hosted by the Great White North Online.

If you are a club officer or assistant club officer for an online club, please contact Carole McCulloch for access to the current Online Alliance social media group.

… in the galaxy U, far, far away …



The Firebirds burst onto the scene, resplendent in their Phoenix Rising colours. They are known as the Firebirds Collective.


Firebirds leaders completed Jedi Master training, secretly, under the guidance of their Jedi Mentors and advanced their skills as polished speakers and moderators online. Their training back then was all done in situ; in every meeting there was was something new to learn. The Firebirds became well known for flying into the fire and re-emerging from the ashes; their best learning was born out of adversity and challenge.

The collective of Firebirds leaders are now well known for their particular skills and each one has contributed to the emergence of this new force, the Onliner Alliance.

  • Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Susan Ellsworth) – fearless leader and Jedi Master, defied the Empire and provided the drive for the Firebirds to ‘strike back’
  • Han Solo (Ian Murray) – thought leader and Jedi Master, provided the guidance for the team leaders; giving us wings to fly in the Millenium Falcon (better known as the Firebirds Google Site)
  • Princess Leia (Carole McCulloch) – coach, mentor and Jedi Master with attitude, managed the easy-Speak infrastructure for the Firebirds and inspired them to ‘become one with the force’ by training online.
  • Chewbacca (Brian Dodd) – fearless Wooki Jedi Master who speaks many languages of the Order, ensured that the Firebirds reached the final destination,  Planet Charter, with Empirical Data in tact.
  • Luke Skywalker (Darryl Heron) – Force-sensitive human male Jedi Master, was instrumental in navigating our presence online; well known for podcasts with members of the Order.
  • Yoda (Julie Kertesz) – renowned within the Order for her wisdom,  a legendary Jedi Master and stronger than most in her connection with the Force (`Away put your weapon!’). She trained us all in the power of storytelling.
  • C-3PO (Manhal Shukayr) – Jedi Master and Technician provided comic relief throughout the journey of the Firebirds, and managed their own Rebel Base on the Ice Planet GoToMeeting.
  • R2-D2 (Mathilde Fischer) – Jedi Master and skilled in the art of data storage;  consistently recorded the minutes of meetings and stored them deep within the Firebirds archives.
  • Lando Calrissian (Kim Hahn) – rebel Jedi Master who has remained strong with the Force, has now developed a new team of Jedi Knights Down Under; and they rejoin the Alliance with renewed strength.

Together the Firebirds have forged new practices, new pathways and new opportunities for the Rebels of the Onliner Alliance. They reached the Planet Charter in March 2016, and formed new visions and missions for the future. New Jedi Knight Teams from across the Alliance have now emerged – ‘strong with the force’ – as leaders of the Firebirds.

  • Rey  (Lorraine Taylor) new Jedi Master and visionary, is now leading the new Jedi Knights with missions far beyond the dreams of the Order.
  • Finn (Samir Malak) is steering the Star Program for Firebirds as the leader of Jedi Knights Education team. This new team includes Martie Ogborn and Lorraine Taylor.
  • Chewbacca (Brian Dodd) leads the team of Jedi Knights of Membership to maintain and build our membership strength. This team includes Peter Kangas and Dienebe Deme.
  • Poe Dameron (Krishn Ramchurn) stepped up – as a new Jedi Knight and talented squadron leader –  to support his team leader Darryl Heron and ensure that Firebirds online presence remains strong with the Force.
  • BB-8 (Belinda Kent) Jedi Master of the Bitcoin and keeper of the purse has been instrumental in streamlining the process of funding the Firebirds initiative.

They are collaboratively building further Firebirds infrastructure on the Planet Trello – their task board for the Force!

Julie Kertesz and her team of Witty Storytellers lead the way in bringing their Jedi Knights from the Planet Witty, to the Planet Charter in September 2016. This new online club, under the command of squadron leader Svetlana Rakhimova, is strengthening the Alliance. Their skilled Jedi Knights include Michelle Alba-Lim, Mathilde Fischer, Brian Dodd and Manhal Shukayr.

Susan Ellsworth and her team of Great White North Onliners from the Planet GWNO followed that lead and quickly brought another tribe to the Planet Charter in October 2016. Their skilled Jedi Knights include Suzette Leeming, Moses Cherrington, Steve Davis, Alicia Choi Darcy, Michelle Rich, Phyllis Harmon, and Ashwani Kumar Sinha.

Kim Hahn and her skilled Jedi Knights from the Planet TWB, are following close behind and will reach the Planet Charter very soon. This team from Down Under is still developing and includes: Carole McCulloch, Moses Cherrington, Elise Lonsdale, Charlie Durber and Phiona Rhodes.

Akira Sasaki has his Jedi Knights poised and ready to join the Alliance as he develops a small group of early adopters from the Planet Fuji. Members of the Alliance are rushing to his aid as we speak.

Small gatherings of these tribes are now occurring in separate parts of the Planet, celebrating their victories. Soon all tribes of the Onliner Alliance will meet at the mass gathering to be held on the Star Ship Alliance Zero One in November 2016.

All members of the Onliner Alliance have been consistently winning the battles with the Storm Troopers (the Toastmasters Empire) and the impact of Darth Vader (and the influence of the Dark Side) is beginning to fade.

There is a new awakening, can you feel it?

Cue the music:

Cue the references:

Star Wars Official Website and the Star Wars Storyline at Wikipedia and  The Star Wars Wiki at Wookipedia


Participate in the fun by joining us online. You can be a visitor by creating a user account in easy-Speak and self-selecting to attend the meetings at: