Zoom Master for Toastmasters meeting

You’ve invited all of your Toastmasters members into your Zoom room for your virtual live Toastmasters meeting. You sent the link and password and now everyone has joined the meeting…except John. John is a scheduled speaker. “Hope he shows up before we call on him for his speech,” you announce to the other attendees.

The meeting begins and you are also the Toastmaster of the Day. You begin presenting your meeting theme and explaining the process of the meeting to your two non-member guests. Everything is going great…until.

“John” sends a text message to your phone: “I can’t login. The password isn’t working for me!”

Frantically, you tell the group, “Hold on everyone, John is texting me.”

The meeting goes silent. Susan says, “Hey look at my new kitty,” and holds the pet up to the cam. Everyone oohs and ahhs. Suddenly the meeting is dramatically off-track. Jack says, “Oh yeah? Checkout my Great Dane! That kitty would be just a snack for Samson!” The group laughs…as you are frantically texting back and forth with John.

Suddenly, you say, “I don’t know what’s wrong with John’s computer. He’s not able to login and I have to call him. Can someone take over for me as Toastmaster?”

This exact scenario (well, maybe not the Great Dane part) happened at a Toastmasters meeting I was running a couple of weeks ago. The actual meeting continued for about 20 minutes without my participation in the meeting. Instead, I was on the phone with a member trying to get the person logged in to the meeting.

It was my fault as the club’s Zoom Master for not having a backup plan in case I would have to temporarily ditch my role as Toastmaster of the Day to help a member troubleshoot getting into the meeting.

Fortunately, my Toastmasters club members are very forgiving. Had this been a paid virtual live event like I’m used to managing, I might have been fired!

The Solution: Schedule a Zoom Master

Every Toastmasters club where virtual meetings are held should have a Zoom Master scheduled for each meeting. The Zoom Master should be assigned only to minor roles (or no role at all) when performing the Zoom Master role.

If you’re using Zoom as your virtual meeting software, a different member of your club could be the Zoom Master for each meeting…even if you use the same account for every meeting.

Or, you could build Zoom Master into the sergeant-at-arms role. But, even the SAA will eventually need a backup when absent or when performing her or his meeting role.

Why Learn How to be the Zoom Master?

Once you have learned how to participate in a virtual meeting and provide quality presentations online using Zoom’s tools, your next step is to learn how to support a meeting. Here are a few reasons why this is an important skill to learn:

  1. Someday, you may want to conduct a virtual live meeting of your own to people outside of Toastmasters. Virtual live meetings and events are great for getting new business. By serving as Zoom Master you will discover just how important it is to have a Zoom Master, and how to guide new Zoom Masters to help, while you focus your time hosting the meeting.
  2. Someday, you may be asked to be a Zoom Master for an outside-the-club event hosted by someone else. In fact, if you do a good job as Zoom Master, you might even be asked by one of your own Toastmasters members to help with an outside-the-club event by serving the role.
  3. The most important reason for now, though, is to help assure your club has virtual meetings that run smoothly. Having a Zoom Master (whether dedicated or rotating weekly) is and important key to everyone enjoying successful online meetings.

Pre-Requisites for Running and Operating a Virtual Toastmasters Meeting

Before you can be Zoom Master for a virtual live Toastmasters meeting, someone in your club will need to have a Zoom account that is being paid for. Zoom allows free accounts and we strongly urge all of our members to get their own Zoom account, free or otherwise. But, the key is that only the paid Zoom levels allow for having meetings that exceed 30 minutes in length. So, if your meeting runs an hour or 90 minutes, you will definitely need someone in your club to have paid Zoom account.

Zoom masters should be highly experienced with Zoom functionality. You may have to instruct and troubleshoot a presenter’s ability to share the screen.

Now all you need is a checklist for how to be a Zoom Master.

Checklist for Being a Good Zoom Master

Before the Meeting:

  1. A day or more before the meeting, assure with your club president that the virtual live meeting will use the same account as the previous meeting. Some clubs rotate who’s account is used, for example. Verify that you have the correct Meeting ID and login password (if a password is required).
  2. If your club produces an agenda, encourage the member in charge of producing that agenda to provide it to you the day before the meeting, if possible. I like to upload our club meeting agendas as a PDF to our website so it can be added in the announcement email as described in the next step instead of adding it as an attachment.
  3. A day or more before the meeting, send an email out to all members announcing you as the Zoom Master with your contact information in case there are any login problems. Provide the Meeting ID and password (if required) in the email. Encourage members to enter the room 15 minutes before start time to work out any tech issues or to test functionality for their coming presentations. [Note: We have started having the Toastmasters for the upcoming meeting sending this email, which also works well.] Here is an example email I sent a day before the meeting:


    ‘Mornin Toastmasters!


    Here’s the agenda for today’s party….I mean, meeting!


    https://georgesuttontoastmasters.com/XXXX.pdf (hidden from public view)


    And, login is same as last week:


    Meeting ID: XXX XXX XXXX (hidden from public view)


    Direct Link for those who do not have a Zoom account yet: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/XXXXXXXXXXXXX (hidden from public view)


    If you have any problems logging in, please text my cell phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX and I will be happy to help you. If we need to get on a phone call to troubleshoot, I will call you back.


    See you there.




  4. A day or more before the meeting, add phone numbers and names for all of your Toastmasters members to your cell phone’s contact list. If they have trouble logging in for the meeting, you will be the one they call (or text) and you will want to already have them in your phone’s contact list so that you can recognize the name when your phone rings.
  5. An hour or more before the meeting, get a list of any names of guests that have RSVP’d that they would like to visit the virtual meeting. You should always have a contact form, email address, Private Message or text message mechanism setup through your club’s website or social media so that guests can communicate with the VP PR or President before the meeting. Note: Assure the VP PR has vetted each guest that they are either part of a Toastmasters club already or have not attended one. Taking this step of communication helps to eliminate the potential for Zoom Bombers.
  6. If your club provides a meeting agenda, request that the agenda be sent to you for posting for the virtual meeting.
  7. 30 minutes before meeting start time, if you are the Zoom account holder for the meeting, schedule your meeting room be open 30 minutes prior to your actual meeting start time. If you are not the Zoom account holder, assure that person schedules and opens the room to be open 30 minutes before the official meeting start time.
  8. 30 minutes before meeting start time, if you are not the Zoom account holder, you will need to ask the account holder to open the meeting room and change settings so that you are the “Host” within Zoom. This setting change will allow you to have full control over the operation for the meeting. But, the account holder can always reclaim control of the meeting if you get into trouble.
  9. Plan to arrive at the same time the account holder opens the room so you will be ready to serve your role before members and guests arrive.
  10. Click the Chat tab and upload the PDF agenda as a file. [Note: If you upload the file before all meeting participants arrive, you will have to upload the file again when they do arrive so that they can see the file in their chat area.]
  11. Plan to mention a few times before the meeting begins that the agenda file is available in the chat area.
  12. Click the Attendees tab, which will open in the right column of your screen.
  13. If you have a waiting room activated, watch for members arriving in the waiting room. Approve members and guests for entry when you recognize their names.
  14. Be ready to welcome guests…although the VP PR, club president and account holder should all be present early to get the pre-meeting conversations going.
  15. When you see a name appear that you do not recognize, or is not on your list of guests, be skeptical.
  16. Ask unknown guests to introduce themselves immediately upon entry. Be ready to interrupt any pre-meeting conversations between members to welcome the unknown guests because it could be a Zoom bomber. If the person does not reply to your request, and they have not shown their face in a video, this is a probable sign that the person is up to mischief. Click the person’s name in the attendees area and remove the person from the group.
  17. Before the meeting starts, ask speakers if they will be using PowerPoint or another means of showing their screen. You will need to activate their Screen Sharing capability in their user settings area by changing their status to “Co-Host.” Then, deactivate the co-host status when their presentation is complete. (This setting was automated as one of Zoom’s upgrades to reduce the potential for Zoom Bombers sharing porn screens.
  18. If your club president kicks off the meeting with a Pledge of Allegiance, (s)he may elect to show a screen of a flag. Zoom settings are defaulted to require you to “Allow Screen Sharing” for each user as needed. So, be ready to change your club president’s user status to “co-host” so that screen sharing is allowed by that user.
  19. As the meeting begins, watch for late arrivals and be ready to approve them in the attendees area.
  20. Your club president “should” be requesting everyone to mute themselves until it’s their turn to speak. But, a surprising percentage of attendees will forget to mute themselves and unmute when they are to start speaking. One of the challenging parts of being the Zoom Master is to always be on the alert for members with disturbing background noise. When this happens, I will typically mute the participant first and then send a Chat message to that person specifically to tell her or him that they are now muted. If you see a person start talking, and they are muted, be on the alert to unmute the person if they go more than a few seconds without realizing they are muted.
  21. The Zoom Master is the last person to leave the meeting. It is up to you to click on End Meeting to close out the window.

How to Handle Login Issues

Here are some tips for how to handle problems related to logging in

  1. Expect people will text you, call you and possibly even send an email your way when they cannot login. If you are expecting a member to arrive, and the person has not yet logged in by the meeting’s start time, be proactive by sending a text message to that person. As Zoom Master, you are the one that must be willing to sacrifice your participation in the meeting whenever technical issues arise.
  2. When you have to text members on your phone, click “Stop Video” so that your photo will appear and none of the members will see you texting.
  3. If a phone call is required, click “Stop Video” and Mute yourself too so that so no one can hear you talking. You may wind up even getting out of your chair and walking into a different room to assist the person with technical problems.
  4. Double check the person is using the correct Meeting ID and the password. Lower and upper case matters. Hopefully your account organizer setup a password for the meeting with no capital letters or spaces.
  5. If someone still cannot login after verifying credentials, have the person remove cookies and history from their browser, close out the browser, reopen the browser and try again.
  6. If that doesn’t work, have the person shut down the computer or mobile device, restart and try logging in again to the Zoom meeting.
  7. Ask if the person has another computer or mobile device that can be used to access the meeting.
  8. Beyond that, there’s not really a lot you can do. The person may need to contact their cell phone company if they are experiencing login problems with their cell phone.
  9. If the attendee cannot access the meeting, you will need to get back into the meeting and use the Chat feature to announce to the Toastmaster, General Evaluator that the person will not be attending the meeting due to technical issues. If the person has a meeting role, it will be up to the people in leadership roles for the meeting to find a substitute.

How to Handle Microphone and Video Issues

Don’t try to be an IT support help unless you are qualified to do so. If you recommend setting changes to someone’s computer, you could add to the damage rather than help to solve the problem. If someone is having trouble getting their microphone to work or for their face to show on video, the best thing you can do is suggest they logout and use the microphone sound test BEFORE logging in again. They should see their video image as part of the testing sequence.

How to Handle Meeting Recordings

Any speaker will benefit from watching a recording of her/his presentation after the meeting is concluded. Zoom provides an easy mechanism for recording full meetings or portions of meetings by giving you the option to record to the cloud. Sure, you can always record to your own computer, but every function your computer executes during a meeting requires your computer’s resources. So, you have an increased chance of your connection to the meeting locking up when you record to your computer at the same time. Always record to the cloud if possible. You will need to work with the account holder to determine what happens to the video after the meeting. I prefer to edit the beginning and end of meetings, and then upload the edited video to my own YouTube channel, where I then share with members. If you let recordings stack up week after week inside the Zoom account, Zoom will eventually charge $10 extra per month for the storage space. So, I always remove the original recording from Zoom after I’ve uploaded it to YouTube.

A Final Task for the Zoom Master Related to Guests

When a guest arrives late to attend the meeting, you will be the one to approve their attendance or kick the person out because their image or entry is suspicious to you. There is nothing worse than a meeting disrupted by a hostile guest! Therefore, I suggest you stop the meeting abruptly when a guest arrives and ask the guest to introduce himself or herself. It’s awkward to the flow of the meeting. It’s annoying to whoever you’re interrupting. But, your sudden outburst is for good reason and for the security and protection of the other attendees. Be assertive with this!

What to Do Next

Toastmasters provides the opportunity to practice and develop your public speaking and leadership skills in a supportive environment. Serving as Zoom Master will give you the opportunity to learn and develop your technical support skills as well as getting used to managing the operation of virtual live meetings. If your club does not already have a Zoom Master role for your virtual meetings, suggest it to your club president today. Your meetings will run much more smoothly with one (or many) of your club members dedicated to this role.

About the Author

Marty Dickinson joined his first Toastmasters club in 1990 and is still an active member today. He has served most club officer roles as well as Area Governor, Division Governor and District 26 Webmaster. Marty is the president of Here Next Year, LLC, a U.S based national marketing agency where he works with clients to feature their expertise through writing, speaking and internet marketing.