1 Month Statistics for Toastmost.org – free websites for Toastmasters clubs

Toastmost.org, the free websites piece of the WordPress for Toastmasters project, continues to grow. It took me a while to get Google Analytics set up properly for a network of websites spread across multiple subdomains, but I now have some statistics to share.

For the period June 12 – July 12, here is what the audience looked like:

Toastmost.org audience

So 1,660 users (unique visitors) in a month, most of them returning visitors (club members or actively interested prospective members) and 9,000+ pageviews.

Here’s more on what they were looking at:

Pages viewed

These are mostly home page views, although farther down the list you see members visiting individual blog posts and event listings. Online clubs are heavily represented because they particularly depend on their websites to recruit members and organize meetings. An online club I founded, Online Presenters, is number 1 on this list (although it isn’t always) and the #10 spot represents a special event we held and aggressively promoted, our mini-webinar contest.

The page to sign up for a free account is toastmost.org, which also shows up on the list above. This is a volunteer-led product that depends on sponsorship and advertising to offset web hosting costs. For sponsorship opportunities, contact David F. Carr, DTM, at david@wp4toastmasters.com.

Support for Exporting, Erasing Personal Data (GDPR Compliance)

WordPress for Toastmasters now allows individuals to download a copy of their personal data or request that it be erased, in keeping with the provisions of GDPR.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is part of a broader trend toward giving individuals more control over how their data is secured and managed. WordPress 4.9.6 includes utilities for exporting and erasing user data on demand.

The WordPress for Toastmasters extensions piggyback on those features, so that data downloads include the additional member profile fields added to user records, as well as Toastmasters activity records such as lists of speeches. If you use the RSVPMaker event registration feature, see also the related post on RSVPMaker.com.

personal data export
Personal data export for demo user Abraham Lincoln

This data can also be erased, on demand.

In both cases, data will be retrieved or deleted based on a search for the user’s email address and all associated records. The website will send an automated email asking the user to confirm that request.

Adding a Privacy Policy

If you are running an independent WordPress site, you will see prompts suggesting you add a privacy policy to your website as soon as you update to version 4.9.6 or later. WordPress will suggest some default wording. You may also wish to consult my version from toastmost.org for wording specific to the RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters plugins.

For club websites published on toastmost.org, a link to a master privacy policy now appears in the club website footer. Clubs may wish to add their own club privacy policy, particularly if they collect member or website visitor data using plugins other than RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters.

How To Adjust The Timing On Your Agenda

agenda timing tool
The Agenda Timing tool lets you adjust the time associated with any item, or delete it entirely.

The Agenda Timing tool allows you to quickly adjust the timing of different parts of your agenda, without restructuring the entire event document or template in the WordPress editor (see How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template).

Agenda Timing is one of the choices under the Agenda Setup menu you see when you are logged in and viewing a meeting on the front end of the website. If the event is based on a template, you will also see Agenda Timing: Template as a choice — the option you would choose to change the standard timing plan for your meetings.

This tool lets you change the amount of time allocated for a Role or an Agenda Note (like the 5 minutes associated with the instruction “After Table Topics, we take a 5-minute break”). For speeches, evaluations, and any other roles filled by more than one member, the time estimate is for the entire block. For example, you might allow 24 minutes for a block of 3 speeches, leaving room for two 7-minute speeches and one of up to 10 minutes.

In the example shown in the video below, a member has reserved time for an advanced speech project that will take considerably more time than the standard 5-7 minutes. To allow that to happen, we adjust the total time allowed for speeches and drop Table Topics from the agenda entirely.

Another common way of handling this situation might be to allow the long speech but change the plan for this meeting from 3 speeches and 3 evaluators to 2 speeches and 2 evaluators and adjust the timing accordingly. A control at the bottom of the Agenda Timing tool lets you change the number of speakers and evaluators simultaneously.

As you make your choices, the times in the Time Elapsed column will change to show how your time allocations are adding up. The goal is to make it easier for you to plan a meeting that runs on time. It’s still up to you to make realistic estimates of how long different phases of the meeting will take — and then discipline your members to stick to those times.

This tool works well when:

  • You want to quickly change the time estimates
  • You may want to drop a role or a note but do not need to add either
  • You do not need to make any deeper structural changes, such as reordering items

If you instead want to reorganize the whole agenda, or restructure your standard template, follow the instructions under How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template. Example: you not only want to change the time estimates but you want to move Table Topics to the end of the meeting, so you can fit it in if there is time or drop it if other parts of the meeting run long.

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts that explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

How to Email the Agenda, Invite Members to Fill Roles

Club and meeting leaders can use the email version of the meeting agenda to fill open roles, sending it out with a link that invites members to sign up online with a couple of clicks.

You do that by selecting the Email option under the Agenda menu, like this:

How to Email the Agenda.

This tool allows you to add  custom message that will be included at the top of the email.

You can also change the default subject line of the email, for example to emphasize one particular opportunity to volunteer. For example, if I just got word that a speaker who had signed up previously has just backed out of speaking at tomorrow’s meeting, I would want to let them know. So the default “Agenda for Monday May 14” becomes “Speaker opening + 2 other open roles for Monday May 14.”

This is meant to be an easy way to send the current agenda, plus your volunteer needs, out to the whole member list via email.

Note to Site Administrators

If you have a mailman mailing list configured for your club website, it will be used by the agenda mailing tool. See Email List Integration for Your Toastmasters Club.

Otherwise, individual messages will be sent to each member on your current user / member list.

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts that explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template

If you have the required editing rights on the website, you can edit any existing agenda event or event template. You will find the events listed under the main RSVP Events listing of event posts. Templates are listed under a submenu, RSVP Events -> Event Templates.

You would modify the template if you wanted to change the standard organization of roles and notes listed on the agenda. After modifying the template, you can update all the events based on that template.

You would modify an individual event, independent of its template (if any), to change the organization of a specific meeting. For example, you might be doing an all Table Topics meeting with no speakers.

The Roles and Agenda Notes for a specific meeting are represented by colored placeholders on the agenda. Double-click on any of those placeholders for a popup editor dialog that allows you to change the data associated with that role or note.

Double click on the placeholder images for a popup editor.

You can also add additional roles (How to Add Agenda Roles) and agenda notes (How to Add Agenda Notes).

To delete any role or note, click it and then press DELETE on your keyboard.

You can also cut-and-paste or drag-and-drop the colored placeholders to change the order in which the roles and notes appear on the agenda.

See also How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch.

How to Add Roles to the Agenda

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts that explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

To add a role to a new or existing agenda document, click the Toastmasters Role button on the button bar.

add role button
Add Role button

Clicking that button will display a dialog that allows you to specify the type of Role this is.

add role dialog
Add Role Dialog

The standard roles are listed on a dropdown list. You can also select “Custom” and type in the name of a role specific to your club, such as “Joke Master.”

The other options are:

  • Count – the number of times the role should be displayed on the signup form and agenda. For example, you might set Count to 3 if you plan to have 3 speakers.
  • Indent – a formatting command, indents the role slightly.
  • Agenda Note – an explanatory note associated with the role, displayed on the agenda but not the signup form.
  • Total Time Allowed – blocks out required time on the agenda. Can be used to warn if long speeches will consume more time than you planned for.
  • Extra Time – adds a buffer, for example for transitions between speeches.

When you save your choices, a blue placeholder image will appear in the WordPress editor. To change your choices, double-click on the placeholder image and the dialog will be displayed again.

role placeholder
Placeholder for a role in the WordPress editor

Here is what the signup form note would look like with signups for a  Toastmaster of the Day and multiple Speaker roles.

signup form
Roles and Agenda Note on signup form

And here is what the printable agenda looks like with a minimal setup.

printable agenda
Roles and Agenda Note on printable agenda

See also: How to Add Agenda Notes and How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch.

How to Add Agenda Notes

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts I will be adding to explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

A button at the top of the WordPress editor allows you to add an Agenda Note to an event. Think of these as “stage directions” for your meetings and/or directions and explanations for your signup form.

agenda note button
Agenda Note button

The dialog for an Agenda Note includes a text area for entering your message.

Agenda Note dialog
Agenda Note Dialog

Other options include:

  • Display On – choices are “agenda” (the default, will be displayed on the agenda only), “web” (the signup form) or “both”
  • Bold? / Italic? / Font size – basic formatting options
  • CSS Style (advanced) – advanced formatting options for web designers
  • Link (web address) – option to have a link displayed following the note
  • Editable field – See How to Create Editable Agenda Notes
  • Time Allowed – If the note describes an activity that will consume time on your agenda, you can assign the planned amount of time here.

When you save your choices, a red placeholder will be displayed in the WordPress editor. You can double-click that placeholder image to display the Agenda Note editor again and make changes.

agenda note placeholder
Agenda Note placeholder (red)

Here is what the printable agenda looks like with a minimal setup. The Agenda Note including the Sgt. at Arms duties is at the top, before the listing of meeting roles.

printable agenda
Roles and Agenda Note on printable agenda

See also How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch

How to Create Editable Agenda Notes

This is one of a series of how-to posts.

In addition to containing standard “stage directions” to appear on your meeting agendas, an Agenda Note can be used to display information that changes from meeting to meeting, such as a theme or word of the day you want displayed on the agenda.

To make it easier to add and update that content, we include a title for an “Editable field” as part of the agenda note. In this case, you will typically leave the blank where you normally add the note content blank.

Editable field
Adding an Editable field title.

The placeholder that appears in the WordPress editor will be purple rather than red and will include the text “editable:” followed by the title you provide.

As with other Agenda Notes, you can designate that it should be displayed on the printable agenda view, on the web (signup form), or both.

A rich text editor widget will then appear in Edit Signups mode.

editing the editable field
Adding content to the Editable field.

This content will then be rendered on the agenda along with role signups and regular Agenda Note content.

editable on the agenda
Editable content on the agenda.

 

How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts I will be adding to explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

While I provide a default meeting event template site administrators can modify, some may find it easier to create their own from scratch, so the signup sheet and printable agenda meet their needs exactly. Or you may be organizing a special event that does not follow your standard meeting format.

First, decide whether you wish to create:

  • A single event for a specific date
  • An event template that will be used as the basis of multiple event documents. A template can be set up for a recurring schedule, such as First Monday or Every Friday, and the software will calculate matching dates.

For a single event, go to the RSVP Events menu and click Add New.

how to add an event
How to Add a Single Event

For a Template, go to the Event Templates section under RSVP Events and click New Template.

How to add a template
How to Add an Event Template

Events and Event Template documents are features of the underlying RSVPMaker template, documented in more detail at RSVPMaker.com.

To add a role, click the Toastmasters Role button on the button bar.

add role button
Add Role button

Clicking that button will display a dialog that allows you to specify the type of Role this is.

add role dialog
Add Role Dialog

The standard roles are listed on a dropdown list. You can also select “Custom” and type in the name of a role specific to your club, such as “Joke Master.”

The other options are:

  • Count – the number of times the role should be displayed on the signup form and agenda. For example, you might set Count to 3 if you plan to have 3 speakers.
  • Indent – a formatting command, indents the role slightly.
  • Agenda Note – an explanatory note associated with the role, displayed on the agenda but not the signup form.
  • Total Time Allowed – blocks out required time on the agenda. Can be used to warn if long speeches will consume more time than you planned for.
  • Extra Time – adds a buffer, for example for transitions between speeches.

When you save your choices, a blue placeholder image will appear in the WordPress editor. To change your choices, double-click on the placeholder image and the dialog will be displayed again.

role placeholder
Placeholder for a role in the WordPress editor

Another button allows you to add an Agenda Note. Think of these as “stage directions” for your meetings and/or directions and explanations for your signup form.

agenda note button
Agenda Note button

The dialog for an Agenda Note includes a text area for entering your message.

Agenda Note dialog
Agenda Note Dialog

Other options include:

  • Display On – choices are “agenda” (the default, will be displayed on the agenda only), “web” (the signup form) or “both”
  • Bold? / Italic? / Font size – basic formatting options
  • CSS Style (advanced) – advanced formatting options for web designers
  • Link (web address) – option to have a link displayed following the note
  • Editable field – to be explained in more detail in a future post
  • Time Allowed – If the note describes an activity that will consume time on your agenda, you can assign the planned amount of time here.

When you save your choices, a red placeholder will be displayed in the WordPress editor.

agenda note placeholder
Agenda Note placeholder (red)

Here is what the signup sheet would look like with just a couple of roles and a single agenda note (here, the agenda note has been set to Display On: both).

signup form
Roles and Agenda Note on signup form

And here is what the printable agenda looks like with a minimal setup.

printable agenda
Roles and Agenda Note on printable agenda

You would then continue adding roles and agenda notes until you have the structure desired. Roles and agenda notes can be manipulated by cut-and-paste or drag-and-drop.

It is also possible to edit the underlying placeholder codes (called “shortcodes” in WordPress jargon) rather than the images.

text mode
An agenda document viewed in the WordPress editor’s Text mode.

The system of buttons, placeholder images, and popup editor dialogs is meant to be easier for those who are not comfortable working with code. One thing you might want to add, which does require adding a small amount of code, is a button on the signup form that allows members to record planned absences.

To include that on your agenda, add this code where you want the button to appear:

[tm_absence]

For more details, see

Tracking Planned Absences Through the Agenda