SINCE the COVID pandemic many local activities have been reduced or stopped due to the safe distancing required.
One that continues on undaunted is the Nambucca Valley Toastmasters club.
Pre-COVID, the group met up in Macksville, but once restrictions hit they quickly set up Zoom meetings where their love of communication could continue online.
The members are passionate about building their confidence and skills in speaking. In their fortnightly meetings they can practise their speeches in a supportive and friendly environment.
"I have been a Toastmaster for seven years and have gained the friendship of some very fine people who have led by example. I also enjoy the 'rush' of participating in speech contests," member Todd Vercoe said.
"For people who are not comfortable with public speaking Toastmasters provides a planning structure with an easily understood process to follow."
It hasn't all been easy transferring to online as they could no longer enjoy a meal together beforehand or socialise after.
"I miss the pre-meeting and break time where we usually connect on a more social basis," club president Sue Smoothy said.
"But at least we have the benefit of still meeting. I look forward to the engagement and positivity."
Zoom meetings can also allow members to invite friends and relatives to observe without having to travel.
Vice-president Education Robyn Dyer added: "Being able to continue with Zoom meetings through COVID lockdown gave us all company, stimulus and something to look forward to."
"I invited friends to the meetings and it took away the anxiety of being in an unknown group situation for them."
Member Marion Syratt points out the advantage of online meetings in curbing social isolation.
"We have embraced the challenges of technology which is especially useful for the socially isolated," Marion said.
"Toastmasters online makes a good connection to others. We were able to have many more people attending with a lot more helpful suggestions."
Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organisation which teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Attending club meetings as a guest is free.
The Nambucca Valley group meets fortnightly at 6pm on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
Contact vice-president Membership Beverly Gibbs on 0422 331-878 for further details. The group will also have a stall at the Valla Markets on Saturday, October 3, when they will welcome inquiries.