Monthly Archives: March 2020
There is a new trend to hold meetings online. In particular, many Toastmasters clubs are moving to an online format as we wait for the pandemic to subside. I have been working from home for about 8 years now and I have a few tips to improve your online meeting experience. Today I will talk about how you can use the virtual background to enhance any presentation, but particularly if you are in the Timer role in your Toastmasters meeting. This is specific to online meetings using Webex or Zoom.
- Download the virtual background images from http://bit.ly/timerbackgrounds
- Start / join your online meeting.
- Add the images to your available virtual backgrounds.
- Before the speech starts, cover your camera lens.
- Change your background at the appropriate time for each speech:
Use None before/after the speech
Use White (Timing…) when timing is started,
Use the standard Green, Yellow, Red at the appropriate time
The purpose of covering your camera is so that your image isn’t distracting the speaker in front of the background image. You will note that there are 4 virtual background images. Be sure to use the White background when the speaker starts talking so everyone knows you have started timing. Optionally you can type “Started”, “Green”, “Yellow”, “Red” in the meeting chat so that the audience knows without looking at your video where the timing is. This should NOT be done during a contest.
For maximum visibility, if you have additional ideas for improving this procedure, please post your comments here rather than in Facebook or youtube.
Toastmasters meetings online is a great way to practice for using web meetings in other settings. Explore other ways you can use these techniques to enhance your viewers’ online experience. For more Toastmasters tips, visit
(See also the second article I published on this which has more tips on the limitations of Virtual Backgrounds and how to use it on other devices:
Part 2: Using Zoom Virtual Backgrounds for Toastmasters Timer Role on iPads & Androids