Two new standing committees

At last night’s weekly meeting of First Oakville Toastmasters, club president Donald Knowles, announced the formation of two standing committees to assist the club and its members in reaching their educational goals.

The first committee will assume responsibility for video recording of speeches and special events and safety and security of the camera equipment.

Volunteer members of this committee will learn how to use the club’s new high-definition video camera and it is hoped some will want to learn or know how to use software to edit the videos and then upload the edited files to our club’s DropBox folder.

The actual setting up of the tripod and video recording of the speeches and evaluations is actually quite easy. The videographer setups the tripod about eight to 10 feet from the speaker and turns the recorder on and off for each speech. This turning on and off creates separate files for each speech which makes the video editing very easy and quick. The camcorder should be set on the tripod at approximately chest height to the speaker and not pointed into any lights (which will affect the exposure) and any distracting backgrounds (like a mirror) should be avoided.

Because we have purchased a back-up bigger battery, there is no need to plug the camcorder into its power supply to record as the battery will power the camcorder for several hours at a time. Soon, hopefully, we will have enough money to purchase a dedicated Canon external microphone for the camera which will help capture even better sound.

We have also purchased two 16-gig memory cards which are capable of recording several hours of recording on each card.

From a safety point of view, for both the camera and the members, the videographer should stay with the camera at all times when it’s on the tripod. With upwards of 40 people moving around in a small meeting room there is an increased probability of someone bumping into the tripod legs knocking the camera over.

We need to use a tripod. Setting the camera up on a table using a table-top tripod, while safer for the camera, can subject the video recording to unwanted shaking from members using the table to write their comments or even bumping into the table. Also the camcorder needs to be quite close to the speaker so that it can record speaker’s voice clearly.

Once the recording is complete, the videographer should ensure the immediate return of the camcorder to the protective case and the removal of the tripod. After the meeting, the equipment should be taken by a committee member and stored in their home (for security). The camcorder battery should be recharged and the memory card removed for editing.

Whoever is doing the editing needs to be familiar with video editing software such as I-Movie for the Mac or a similar program designed for the PC platform. The Canon videocamera came with software which can be shared and installed on any member’s computer.

The editing itself is very basic and easy to do.

Because each speech is a separate file, the only editing required is trimming any excess images from the front and conclusion of the file and to name the file (usually with the speaker’s name). Once all three speech files and the evaluation file are edited, it’s time to save them in a viewing format exporting them to a folder on your computer in the recommended size (150 to 300 megabytes) and format (.mov or MPEG-4) which can be read by any video player (i.e. Quick Time Player) on any computer.

Once the files are converted into a readable file, it’s time to upload them to the DropBox folder (This can take a few hours.) for sharing with the club members. If there are files remaining from the previous meeting, these files should be deleted to make room for the current folders. It’s a recommended practice to burn a DVD of the finished files and perhaps keep a copy of the files handy in case someone accidentally drags a folder from the DropBox thus depriving any other members the opportunity to view the file.

(Generally we assume speakers will remove their own files but occasionally there are requests from other members to view the files of individual speeches. If a member has already dragged their folder out of the DropBox folder, it’s easy to replace it if a copy is kept around temporarily. This inadvertent dragging of the file depriving others of the opportunity to view it happens quite often with the file holding the evaluations. Rather than make three separate files for evaluators, the practice has been to make one file of approximately 9 minutes in duration. Sooner or later, members will figure out how DropBox works and this won’t be much of an issue.

This committee will likely report to the Sgt.-At-Arms who will automatically be a member of the committee. The committee itself can determine its own practices when it comes to how it operates. For example, the committee can determine whether or not to elect a chairperson or to operate as a committee-of-the-whole (where every member has equal responsibility and authority). Should the committee require funding or wish to change its mandate in any substantive way, it will need to communicate those requests through the Sgt.-At-Arms who will in turn pass the requests to the executive for a decision.

The second standing committee is the web/blog committee.

This committee will likely report to the Vice-President of Public Relations who will automatically be a member. The committee will be responsible for the smooth running of the club’s web and blog sites. Committee members again can determine the committees own best-practices. Should funds be needed or a fundamental change in responsibilities be contemplated then these requests can be forwarded to the executive through the VP of PR for approval.

Thanks to the work of Toastmasters Michelle Gilles, Dale Fisher and former member Jason Nagy, a website was created for the club and is currently being hosted on the Internet. Toastmaster Gillies was also responsible for the creation of the club’s blog. It will be up to the committee to decide whether to recommend maintaining both sites or recommend to the executive the deletion of one or the other. The committee may also wish to establish a First Oakville Facebook page and Twitter account or the VP of PR may request those actions or others from the committee.

The ease of use of the club blog makes it simple for all club members to post comments, posts or photos to the blog. The committee members along with the VP of PR and other executive members may wish to be primary contributors of posts as blogs are made better when there are multiple contributors. These members can be issued with contributor administrative access and shown how to use the online WordPress editor to make their own posts.

All members of the club will be encouraged to add comments which must be moderated by the committee members to ensure that there are no posts of spam or advertising or any other comments that are not for the good of Toastmasters.

Standing committees are established by the president and responsible to the executive. They are considered permanent committees of the club however their mandate must be reaffirmed anew by the incoming executive on an annual basis.

In the case of First Oakville Toastmasters, this renewal process is likely to be as informal as the incoming president simply noting a desire for the committee to continue to serve the club for another year.

Members serve at the pleasure of the executive and can remain on the standing committee from year to year. So long as the committee continues to fulfil its mandate, there is no need for any executive supervision of committee’s work. Standing committees are subject to dissolution at any time by executive decision.

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