#d57online – COVID-19 Update #6

Read how the District leadership team is prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of our members.

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evolved into a daily conversation, the District leadership team and I will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our members while maintaining a level of continuity in our club meetings and district events. We are in communication with Toastmasters staff, monitoring updates from public health authorities and very committed to ensuring we continue to provide as much transparency around our decisions related to COVID-19 and opportunities that exist for all our members to experience excellence.

March 31, 2020

The shelter-in-place in the San Francisco Bay Area has been extended to May 3rd. More than 75% of our clubs are meeting online today (and more that we’re not even aware of). Don’t miss out on the chance to develop your remote communication skills and the opportunity to be social and have fun with others while we all hunker down a little longer. Embracing #d57online in our clubs, contests and events is easy:

Keeping our community and ourselves healthy is critical. We can keep that commitment and embrace #d57online. More opportunities exist than ever to boost your self confidence, communication and leadership skills while being social, recognizing the success of others and having fun in our community. I encourage you to get your renewals in if you haven’t already and continuing to experience excellence with #d57online.

Please reach out to kevin@d57tm.org with any questions or concerns,

Kevin Markl
District Director
District 57 Toastmasters


March 23, 2020

Remember the first Toastmasters meeting you visited? Your first Ice Breaker? It was pretty scary, wasn’t it? But since then, you’ve improved your self-confidence, grown your communication and leadership skills and built a community of friends – a Toastmasters family. I know meeting online is a scary proposition for many of you. I know it’s not the same as an in-person meeting. But this is an opportunity to break the ice and with your friends and Toastmasters community. Don’t miss out!

Discover how your club can embrace virtual meetings with a free District 57 Zoom web conferencing account:

  1. If you are a corporate club you probably already have a video conferencing system like Webex, Zoom or Skype available. If available, we suggest using that.
  2. If you are a community club, see if anyone in your group has access to a video conferencing system. If so, use that.
  3. If you do not have access, you may use the District 57 Zoom free of charge.
    1. Write to info@d57tm.org to get a meeting set up for your club.
    2. Send the name of the club, the day you meet, for how long, and frequency of meetings.
    3. We will send you back a Zoom link to share with your club within 48 hours.
  4. Zoom has a tremendous amount of getting started videos and tutorials for all your club members here.

How can you Experience Excellence during a virtual club meeting?

Whether your tech savy or a technosaur, you can learn best practices here to continue having fun meetings that recognize the successes of others from a great speech to participating in a virtual setting for the first time, just like these 60+ Toastmasters did last week:















Please get in touch with any comments, questions or concerns. My contact information is below.

Experience Excellence,

Kevin Markl
District Director
District 57 Toastmasters


March 16, 2020

Several updates here:

  • Shelter-in-place for non-essential in-meetings (yes – that even means Toastmasters), in the Bay Area until April 7th
  • How is the District using Zoom web conferencing to support our clubs and you can get access!
  • Updated dues renewals deadline from April 1 to April 30.
  • The shift of all district events to virtual events until June 1.
  • Thank you – a short inspirational video message

Lots to talk about – let’s dive in.

Earlier today, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin County (and 3 others in the Bay Area) issued a shelter-in place from March 17 to April 7th. You can read what Marin County writes here including their extensive Q&A. As much as I love Toastmasters, in-person Toastmasters club meetings are not essential. Plan to shift from your regularly scheduled meetings to a web conferencing tool like Zoom if you meet in an impacted county. Please do not cancel your meetings completely unless absolutely necessary. Remember – this is an opportunity to develop your communication and leadership skills associated with virtual web conferencing tools. Embrace this opportunity to learn and grow.

How to get access to the District’s Zoom web conference

The District has a Zoom account. In fact we’ve purchased additional Zoom licenses and are currently supporting more than 41 club meetings, masterclasses, contests and district events. We’re happy to support your club too. Before you reach out to info@d57tm.org to request access to our Zoom, please ask if a member of your club is willing to share access to a Zoom, WebEx or other paid web conferencing tool through work. Why?

  • More than 45 clubs meet on Wednesdays in our District? Tuesdays and Thursdays support more than 30 club meetings each. 
  • Each Zoom license can only support 1 meeting concurrently. This means that if 2 clubs meet on Wednesday at 7pm, we need to pay for 2 different Zoom licenses to support them both. 
  • In short – we appreciate any burden sharing your club can provide.

If you do not have access to a Zoom account, the District is happy to buy additional licenses and extend this resource to you. If you would like access, please have your club officers email info@d57tm.org with the name of your club, day, time and frequency of your club meetings. Please be patient as it may take 24-48 hours to get your meeting live.

Using Zoom

I don’t know how to use Zoom. Zoom is too complicated. I don’t have the right tools to use it etc.. I understand that not everyone is tech savy, may not have a camera or know how to use Zoom. Here’s an inspirational= email I received just today from Lindy Sinclair with Toast of Richmond:

At Toast of Richmond we have been using Zoom so members who were outside of the Bay Area could join our meetings.  We’ve been doing that for about 2 years.
But today EVERYBODY used Zoom.  I couldn’t believe how smoothly it went.  Even people who were unfamiliar with Zoom or who did not own a laptop were able to use it.  Thanks mostly to our VPE, Danny Hirsch, who spent most of yesterday setting things up to make it easy for everyone to use.  We taught everyone to mute themselves when they were not speaking and to wave when they wanted to unmute and be called on for Table Topics.  Our sole outside the Bay Area member said he had a better than usual experience because he could see everyone (usually the camera is only on the person at the lectern) and hear everyone (usually people at the far-end of the table and therefore farthest from the camera/microphone are only heard very faintly by him).  So we are off and running in this new world.
Kudos to Danny Hirsch and the team to ensure their members have an excellent club experience! More resources will be posted soon on how to hold a virtual meeting. If you want to get a jump start, wander over to the Official Toastmasters International Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ToastmastersInternationalMembers/ where you should be able to find various resources on how to run a virtual business meeting from all around the world. We are in this together!
Club officers should have received an email today indicating that the deadline to submit renewals has been extended from April 1 to April 30th. That means that members who do not pay their renewals will not have their Pathways access shut off until April 30th. You can see which clubs have/haven’t submitted dues here (it’s updated daily).
This is not a license to further procrastinate. District 57 is #6 in the world on membership payments and renewals out of more than 115 Districts thanks to your hard work and the hard work of our Renewals Team led by Kevin Powell. Many clubs can accept membership renewals by check or electronic payments by Venmo, PayPal, Square and more. Treasurers, find out how to accept dues electronically here.

In-person club meetings are moving virtual – what about District events?

Effective March 14th, Toastmasters International mandated that all Area, Division and District events globally must be held virtually until June 1, 2020. This was already in line with our contingency plans in motion to hold our remaining 2 Area and 9 Division Contests virtually and a virtual business meeting on April 25th. Training modules are beginning to be distributed to contestants and volunteers for our virtual contests and we will have more to share about our virtual business meeting soon.

Thank you

Lastly, I just want to say thank you. If we work together as a community, recognize our successes and have fun during virtual meetings and events, I know we will all continue to experience excellence, even during this challenging time:



March 12, 2020

Earlier today, the Governing of California and Public Health Experts announced that non-essential events in California with 250 or more people should be postponed or cancelled statewide going into April. Our leadership team is one step ahead and ready to announce that our District 57 Annual Conference originally scheduled for April 25th, is now postponed to June 6th*. Be patient as we work through the details before asking about refunds etc.. More to come later in March/April.

Please focus on your own health and safety, and that of those around you. To that end, I’ll reiterate:

  • Club meetings and Area/Division Contests can be conducted virtually. If your club needs access to our Zoom web conferencing tool, please email info@d57tm.org. We will do the best we can to support you. Planning for virtual contests is ongoing.
  • If you are ill, presenting with any symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, DO NOT attend club meetings or district events in-person. This is absolutely unacceptable. Follow local public health guidelines, advice from medical professionals and self-quarantine yourself as necessary. Consider participating remotely if your club supports it and you feel up to it. 
  • Members who are older (ages 50+) and people with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, may be at greater risk of serious illness. It’s your health and your choice, but if you fall into this category, we advise participating virtually at club and district events.

We are a community going through a time of daily change and uncertainty. If we are respectful and compassionate towards each other. If we communicate transparently with each other. If we focus first and foremost on the facts to ensure our health and safety, I know we will all get passed whatever may come next.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me by email, kevin@57tm.org or phone at 510-289-5589. We’re here to support you in anyway we can.

Experience Excellence,

Kevin Markl
District Director
District 57 Toastmasters

*Pending approval from Toastmasters International

March 10, 2020

Following updates from the Alameda and Contra Costa Public Health Departments, Bett and I have decided that all Area & Division Contests taking place March 12, 2020 onwards will be virtual contests. Contest participants, volunteers and supporters, please standby for more information on how those will work in the coming days based on specific guidance and protocols we were given by Toastmasters International on Friday March 6, 2020.

We are making this change to ensure that Toastmasters who are at increased risk of severe illness (older adults and those with chronic medical conditions) who may be competing or volunteering can do so without fear. We also advise that those at increased risk of severe illness stop participating at in-person meetings in Alameda and Contra Costa County. 

Thank you for your patience, understanding and working together to ensure all our members, clubs and officers can experience excellence through this challenging time.

Best regards,

Kevin Markl
District Director
District 57 Toastmasters

March 8, 2020
To our Members

If any of the statements below apply to you, we respectfully ask that you not attend club or district events in person:

  • Currently feeling unwell or has symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.).
  • Recently had contact with an individual known or suspected to have COVID-19.
  • Traveled to China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Iran or other high-risk area in the past 14 days.
  • People at increased risk of severe illness (older adults and those with chronic medical conditions).

We advise you to replace handshaking at your club meetings. Here are some fun alternatives: https://mashable.com/article/coronavirus-best-handshake-alternatives/

Other tips:
  • Create physical space to minimize close contact (one arm length, sit every other seat etc.)
  • Provide hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and tissues.
  • Avoid touching your face or high touch surfaces with your bare hands (use a tissue)
  • Consider staying home if you or someone you care for or live with is at higher risk (elderly or immunocompromised).
To our Club Officers
  • We are expecting most club meetings and district events to continue as scheduled. Alamada County Health for example has not banned mass gatherings (those with 50+ people).
  • If your club can no longer meet in its venue, District 57 will make it’s Zoom web conferencing account available to host virtual club meetings on a first come, first serve basis. Email info@d57tm.org with the day/time/frequency of your meetings to gain access to this resource.
In the coming days, as we learn more, we will continue to keep you informed on any policy changes. Thank you for doing an exceptional job remaining calm and being thoughtful to those around you.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns, you can reach out to me directly at kevin@d57tm.org.
Best regards,
Kevin Markl
District Director
District 57 Toastmasters

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