In the September 2022 issue of Toastmaster Magazine, page 24, there is an article about online learning that features the work of the European Trainers Network.
Written by Megan Preston Meyer, she examines which Toastmasters skills come into play online – as a trainer or as a student. Here is an excerpt from her article:
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The prerequisites for teaching online are a) an interest in the material you’ll be teaching, b) a bit of business and marketing know-how, and c) communication skills. The Pathways program will give you a leg up on the last one, and there are other resources out there, as well.
Bill Monsour, DTM, is the co-founder of the European Trainers Network (ETN), an organization for Toastmasters in Europe who are interested in teaching and training. Its mission is to “provide networking opportunities and serve as an information resource for its members.” It does so by not only helping members to “develop their training skills, but also their business skills,” Monsour says. The ETN emphasizes proven adult learning methods and offers regular masterclasses on marketing and promotion; one recent session focused on optimizing LinkedIn profiles, for example.
During the lockdown, the ETN understandably saw increased interest in virtual training methods. Online or in person, though, the foundations of effective teaching remain the same— they’re just enhanced. “Moving online doesn’t mean that you don’t need all those skills that you had before. In fact, it’s all the same skills, plus new skills on top—technical skills,” says Monsour. “You need to reimagine [communication] in the online environment. It’s like translating one language to another; you can’t do it literally, word-for-word, you have to look at the basic concepts and understand how, in the new world, that concept is done in a different way.”
One area in need of translation is audience engagement. Just like in Toastmasters meetings, when you’re not in the same physical space as others, you need new ways to interact. “There are all sorts of tips for engaging people [online],” Monsour says. “We use breakout rooms quite a bit … to enable discussion that wouldn’t otherwise happen.” Whiteboard tools like Miro, which enable annotation and collaboration, are also excellent ways to raise the engagement level.
At the same time, Monsour warns, don’t get too distracted by the technology. “Remember when PowerPoint first came in, and people were all excited that ‘we can make something spin,’ and ‘we can make all these different colors and fonts and stuff’? Once the wizardry and the novelty wore off, it became ‘death-by-PowerPoint.’ People get caught up in the technology and the excitement of it, and they lose the human element.” That human element, not a flashy platform, is what sets successful online teachers apart.
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