May 27, 2020
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lawrence Carrington (Club President) and Lara Griner (Club Treasurer and former Vice-President, Membership) of Langara's Toastmasters Club to chat about how COVID-19 has impacted the club.
Thanks for sitting down with us. How are you doing?
Lawrence: We're doing good.
How long have you been with the club?
Lawrence: We've both been with the club since it started in February 2018.
How has Toastmaster (international) been affected by the pandemic?
Lara: Toastmasters International has been extremely impacted. All clubs around the world (almost 17,000 chapters) have transitioned to online meetings. All contests, training, and conventions are being held virtually or postponed. They also extended access to the educational platform as they know several members won’t be able to pay for their membership now.
What measures are you taking to keep members safe?
Lawrence: We're hosting our meetings virtually and continue to have the subsidy available to Langara students, alumni, and employees. Since the beginning, we didn`t want money to be a barrier to Langarans wanting to improve themselves. That`s even more important now as so many people are struggling financially.
How are members adapting to the situation?
Lara: It hasn't been easy for our members to join meetings as they have challenges and issues with their studies, work, and family. But seeing everyone on screen and talking about other topics is a breath of fresh air from our stay at home reality. We always had fun at our face-to-face meetings and this hasn’t changed online.
What can the club offer new members that want to better prepare them for this new normal?
Lawrence: It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, public speaking is going to be a part of your social and professional life. Toastmasters helps you build up the skills to step in front of an audience – on a stage or on a video conference – and speak with confidence.
Can anyone join?
Lara: Absolutely, the club is open to everyone. Our members are a great mix of students, alumni, and employees from Langara and the local community.
What’s the most useful skill that you’ve learned as a result of Toastmasters?
Lawrence: Breathing. When you are speaking to a room full of people, the ability to pause and breathe for a couple of seconds while you collect your thoughts is a lifesaver. You will also learn tips for giving impromptu speeches and managing meetings.
What’s a piece of advice that you give to folks thinking about joining?
Lara: Attend as a guest for a couple of meetings to get a feel for the club. You can also check out other clubs to find the one that’s a good fit for you.
We're really proud of the opportunities that Toastmasters has brought to Langara. Thank you so much for chatting with us.