Please see the updated version of these instructions.
When you first create a WordPress for Toastmasters site, you get a default signup form and agenda loosely based on the one used by my home club, Club Awesome — as if that were the Platonic ideal of how a Toastmasters club ought to organize itself. Hey, it works for us, but I’ve visited with enough other clubs to understand everyone takes the same basic elements and organizes them their own way.
To make your website your own, one of the first steps is to create an event template that defines how your own club operates at a typical meeting. Maybe instead of doing Table Topics near the beginning of the meeting, you prefer for that portion of the meeting to occur after the formal speeches but before the evaluations. You may want to add a role that is unique to your club or delete one that does not apply.
These are the directions on how to do that.
In addition to customizing the template, you can customize individual events to vary the format of a given meeting. This is the difference between the cookie and the cookie cutter — the template stamps out copies that are all the same, but you can still decorate each cookie (tweak the settings for a meeting) a little differently.
For example, if you are holding a contest at your regular meeting time, you will want to sign people up for contest roles. Or, if your VP of Education is giving a special presentation, you may have to cut back on the number of speeches and evaluations, or drop Table Topics.
Two Ways to Customize
There are two ways to customize the agenda and signup form, either by editing “shortcodes” (placeholders within the text of an event description) or by using a visual editor that saves you from futzing with this specialized coding language.
For example, these two definitions of an agenda item are equivalent.
[toastmaster role=”Speaker” count=”3″]
The visual Agenda Setup editor:
You don’t normally see code in the WordPress visual editor, but shortcodes are the exception, used to insert programmatically-generated content. However, I’ve provided an Agenda Setup editor that makes it easier for non-techies to add, delete, and rearrange items on the agenda.
Accessing the Agenda Setup Editor
The templates created for your site are listed on the WordPress administrator’s dashboard with links that allow you to open a template in the WordPress editor (where the shortcodes will be displayed) or in the Agenda Setup editor (easier for those of you who don’t like futzing with code).
There is also an Events Template option under RSVP Events that lists the existing templates and shows the default schedule along with projected dates. From this screen, you can apply a different template to an existing event — for example, to apply a contest template to a regular meeting.
You also can access the Agenda Setup editor from a button that appears on every event listing. This allows you to tweak the individual meeting, not the template. There is also an Agenda Setup option that appears on the black menu bar that appears at the top of the screen when you are logged into the website as an administrator, editor, or officer (regular members will not see this option).
Using the Agenda Setup editor
Each role on the agenda includes its own mini web form that allows you to change the label for that role, change the number of openings for that role that should be displayed (2 Speakers instead of 3), add an explanatory note about the role, or check the box that will remove that role from the agenda.
The Agenda Setup editor also allows you to add or edit blocks of text to be shown on the printed agenda, such as a reminder about club dues or the mission of the club.
In addition editing the options presented in these widgets, you can drag-and-drop blocks to rearrange them.
You can add more of these widgets using the buttons at the bottom of the form.
The buttons are:
- Add Role – adds a blank role
- Add Agenda Note – adds a blank note
- Add Officers – generates a list of the club’s officers based on those in Settings -> Toastmasters
- Add Theme/Words of the Day – adds an editable block of text that can be used to enter a meeting theme, words of the day, or other meeting-specific information.
- Two-Column Agenda – an advanced option for formatting the agenda (explained below)
Fancy Agenda Formatting
This is an optional step. By default, you can print a basic but functional agenda straight from the website or download it into Microsoft Word and make it pretty.
The two-column agenda option below is something I added to allow one particular club to approximate the look of an Word agenda template it has been using, where some basic information about the club is displayed in a skinny left hand column (or “sidebar”) and the specific meeting agenda takes up the rest of the page.
When you click the two-column agenda button, three widgets will be added at the bottom of the screen. You place the first agenda layout widget at the beginning of the first column, the second at the beginning of the second column, and the third at the end. Check the “sidebar” button on the widget for either the first column or the second column, depending on whether you want the sidebar to be on the left or the right.
Here is the club’s existing agenda as a Word document:
And here is an approximation of that format that could be printed directly from the website (names are missing because no one has signed up yet):
Another way of using this, if the club prefers the agenda layout in Word, would be to copy and paste just the role signup information from the website into a Word document, leaving the boilerplate details unchanged.
Here is the documentation for the shortcode tags used to set up an agenda/signup form in code.
[toastmaster role=”Speaker” count=”3″]
This is the basic tag used to designate roles that should be available for signups on the online form, with role assignments also displayed on the agenda. The parameter role can be set to any value for custom roles. However, default roles like “Speaker” and “Topics Master” should not be altered if you want statistics for who has filled these roles to show up in the performance reports. The count parameter specifies the number of signup slots that should be displayed (if this parameter is omitted, the default of 1 is assumed.
[toastmaster role=”General Evaluator” agenda_note=”Leads the evaluation portion of the meeting”]
The agenda_note parameter allows you to insert an explanatory note.
[toastmaster role=”Ah Counter” indent=”1″]
Adding indent=”1″ causes this information to be indented in the agenda display.
[toastmaster role=”Contest Master” leader=”1″]
By default, the Toastmaster of the Day is assumed to be the meeting organizer. Adding leader=”1″ to another member role designates that person as the meeting leader.
[agenda_note]Additional text, typically displayed on the agenda only[/agenda_note]
Wrap this code around a block of content for the agenda. Be careful to match the opening code with the closing [/agenda_note] code.
[agenda_note officers=”1″]Additional text, typically displayed on the agenda only[/agenda_note]
The officers parameter appends a listing of officers to your note. (officers=”1″ turns on this feature). Other parameters include sep (example sep=” | “) to change the default separator between the officers on the list (comma, followed by a space) and label (example: label=”Executive Board”) to change the default label (“Officers”).
[agenda_note style=”width: 200px; float: right;”]Additional text, typically displayed on the agenda only[/agenda_note]
The style parameter allows you to specify custom formatting, using the web’s Cascading Style Sheets standard (intended for advanced users)
[agenda_note agenda_display=”both”]Additional text, typically displayed on the agenda only[/agenda_note]
Can be set to “both” (display on the signup form as well as the agenda) or “web” (display on the signup form, NOT the agenda) to change the default behavior of showing the content only on the agenda.
[toastmaster_officers sep=”<br />” label=”High Council”]
[toastmaster officers=”1″ sep=”<br />” label=”High Council”]
This works similarly to the parameter on agenda_note, except that it’s a separate tag. Displays a list of officers Optional parameters include sep (example sep=” | “) to change the default separator between the officers on the list (comma, followed by a space) and label (example: label=”Executive Board”) to change the default label (“Officers”).
Either of these will generate an editable text box for recording a note, often used for details like meeting theme or words of the day. This is an editable field on the form and is displayed on the agenda and to web visitors.
The agenda_layout tag can be used to format the agenda into two columns, typically a main column (two-thirds page width) and a narrower sidebar (one third). You actually need to use 3 of these tags – one at the beginning of column 1, one at the border between column 1 and column 2, and the third after column 2. The sidebar parameter can be used in either the first or second instance, depending on whether the left or the right column should be designated as the sidebar (if neither is, the columns will be equal width).
The visual editor adds the 3 user interface blocks at once, then lets you arrange them as desired.