COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Over the past year, video conference calls have given us a way to get together while staying apart.
However, effectively communicating during virtual meetings can be a challenge.
That’s why Toastmasters International has shifted its focus from simply training members in the areas of public speaking and leadership to giving a polished presentation in virtual environments.
“It helps me present myself in a better way to the public and to speak more intelligently,” said Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton.
Shelton is a proud member of his local Toastmasters chapter.
He said, even before the pandemic, the organization was starting to take things virtual.
“Now we’re more virtual. We’re still having to conduct our meetings, but we’re doing them on Zoom. Again, it’s a learning experience. We’re learning how to communicate in a different venue,” said Shelton.
Toastmasters International President Richard Peck said conducting yourself professionally online is just as important as conducting yourself professionally in-person.
“So, we always say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Well, if it’s the first time I’m seeing you online, what I see is going to be the impression I get,” said Peck.
He said anytime you’re taking part in an online meeting, you should try and limit anything that could distract your audience.
“I tend to encourage clubs to say, how would you conduct yourself if you were together in the same room? Would you be on the phone instead of listening to the person at the front of the room? Would you be talking to your neighbor? How would you conduct yourself,” said Peck.
“We’re learning that there’s now Zoom etiquette, how you present your self, what you do… So, Toastmasters was more verbal, now when we’re communicating, we’re using verbal gestures, we’re using pitch and vocal variety when we’re talking, so now you’re being more entertaining, you can become more animated because you do have an audience out there who’s looking at you, so, like now for example, I’m using my hands, and I’m trying to draw my audience into me, so now, without being there, you have to learn how to use more vocal variety, more hand gestures to draw people in, so again, I don’t have that physical presence there,” said Shelton.
Peck said anyone interested in bettering themselves professionally, should consider paying close attention to their online etiquette.
“There are individuals who have a hard time in this one-on-one conversation, and being in a small environment, being in the safety of your own home, if you will, there’s some opportunity there to try things and do things that you normally wouldn’t,” said Peck.
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