How and Why to Switch to the New Agenda Editor

If you have been working with the WordPress for Toastmasters software for more than the past few weeks, you will need to convert your agenda in order to take advantage of the latest and greatest version of the agenda editor.

The Toastmost.org club website hosting service has already switched to the new WordPress editor, known as Gutenberg, which will become standard when WordPress 5.0 is released very soon. The revamped editor is one of the biggest changes to come to the WordPress publishing platform — and fortunately a very positive one for the WordPress for Toastmasters solution. To take advantage of the latest features, you will need to convert the content of your agenda template (and the specific meeting agendas based on that template) to a new format.

If you are on Toastmost, or if you install the Gutenberg plugin (or WordPress 5.0, when it’s available), you will see a prompt to convert your agenda when you log into the administrative dashboard.

The convert your agenda template prompt.

The steps are:

  1. Convert your old agenda templates
  2. Edit your regular agenda template (the automated conversion is not guaranteed to be perfect).
  3. Update your agendas for individual dates.

You will want to update because new features will be coming to the new agenda format that will not necessarily work with the old format.

For example, here’s a nifty tool that allows you to edit the time allocated to different parts of your meeting and see the effects of those changes. It also addresses a common scenario I’ve encountered in my clubs where you want to adjust the number of speakers and evaluators for a given meeting because someone is giving a longer speech.

New Tweak Timing tool

I created two videos to show off the new editor. The first covers how to work with the new WordPress editor in general, when creating the content to market your Toastmasters club. The second goes into more detail about editing your agenda — blocking out roles, stage directions, and the time required for each portion of your meeting.

Introducing the new WordPress editor
Agenda Editor Tutorial

The Gutenberg editor is organized around “blocks” of content. Paragraphs, headings, images, and embedded media such as YouTube videos are all blocks. For meeting agendas, we have our own blocks.

The Agenda Role Block

Agenda Role Block
  • Role: choose one of the roles from the list or “custom” for a role that is unique to your club
  • Custom Role: Enter the label if this is a custom role. Otherwise, leave blank
  • Count: If more than one should appear on the agenda, set the number here. Example: 3 speakers
  • Time Allowed: The total time allowed for those who sign up for this role. For three speakers, you would set this to 21 at a minimum (3 7-minute speeches) but might want to go to 24 or 26 to allow for some longer speeches. If too many members sign up for long speeches that would exceed this limit, a warning will be shown. 
  • Padding Time: This was intended for use in combination with speech roles. In addition to the time allowed for speakers, you can build in another minute or two for introductions and set up between speeches.
  • Agenda Note: You can enter an additional explanatory note that will be displayed on your agenda, beneath the role.

Agenda Note

Agenda Note blocks

An Agenda Note is a block of text that appears only on the agenda, not on your signup form. It includes basic formatting controls. Each of these “stage directions” notes can also have time associated with it.

A few other Toastmasters block types are available to you, including Signup Note (appears only on the signup form, not on the agenda), Editable Note (can be changed for each meeting to show content such as meeting theme or word of the day), and Toastmasters Absences (adds a button on the signup form people can click to record that they expect to miss a meeting).

Old WordPress Content

Agendas and content you created in the pre-Gutenberg era should still display and function properly, but will be more awkward to work with. In the case of old blog posts and home page content, you will see them displayed within a special block type labeled “Classic” for the “classic” WordPress editor.

A blog post created with the “classic” editor

You can upgrade such content by clicking the 3-dots menu button and choosing Convert to Blocks.

Do not do that for agenda content — follow the Convert Templates prompt on the administrator’s dashboard described earlier in this post.

In Gutenberg, agenda templates created with the classic editor will show up with more coding than most non-programmers are comfortable with. You could still edit these by manually tweaking the content of the agenda role and agenda note placeholders (“shortcodes”), but you’ll have a better experience and unlock new features if you upgrade.

Agenda in the old format.

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