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. I continue to work on making the process easier to understand (and explain).
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.
Agenda Editing in the WordPress Editor
One of the reasons for using WordPress as the foundation for a club website is it gives you a very nice editor for posting blogs and editing your home page. The WordPress for Toastmasters extensions treat meetings and other events for your event calendar as a different sort of blog post, with events to be listed in chronological order rather than with the most recently published posts at the top of the list.
If you were promoting an open house or other special event, you might want to include more marketing content in the body of your event post. However, for a regular Toastmasters meeting what we want to do is lay out our agenda and the list of roles members can sign up for online.
Here is how a series of signup roles appear within the WordPress editor.
Each of the agenda items is represented by a placeholder image. You can double click on any of these items to open up an editor that lets you specify options like how many speakers you will have at your meeting (the default is 3 speakers, 3 evaluators, and 1 each of the other roles).
If you want to remove a role from the list, just delete the placeholder image for that role.
To reorder any of these items, click on any placeholder and hold down the mouse button while dragging straight up or down to drag-and-drop it to a new position.
You can also add roles by clicking the custom Toastmasters Role button at the top of the editor. Add a blank line in the editor, click that button, and fill in the parameters. A new placeholder will appear.
There are two of these custom buttons, one for roles and one for adding what I call an Agenda Note.
Agenda Notes Versus Roles
An Agenda Note allows you to specify additional stage directions, such as the point in the meeting when you do self-introductions or take a break between speeches.
By default, the Agenda Notes only appear on the agenda, not on the signup form.
When you work with this tool, you are really doing two things at the same time:
- Creating the online signup form
- Creating the printable agenda
We want the information captured on the form to also appear on the agenda, but you may also have additional information that you want to appear on the agenda. For example, you might want the name of the Toastmasters of the Day to appear right up top of both. In addition, you might want to include an Agenda Note appear at the bottom of the agenda only to say something like “Toastmaster of the Day presents the awards” (if your club votes on speaker of the day, etc.).
You would NOT want the signup widget for Toastmaster of the Day to appear more than once.
Editing Events Versus Event Templates
To alter the agenda for a single meeting (event), navigate to that event and click “Agenda Setup” at the top of the screen.
Clicking “Edit Event” also works, but the Agenda Setup screen gives you a few more options such as specifying text to appear in the sidebar area of the agenda.
If you want to change all the agenda options for all future meetings you have recorded in the system, the easiest way to do that is by editing the event template you use for meetings. You can also have templates you use for special events such as contests. Once you have updated the template, you will be given the option of updating all events based on that template.
On the administrator’s dashboard, the you will find the existing templates (and the button you would click to create a new one) on the RSVPMaker -> Event Templates screen.