Jetpack: The Swiss Army Knife Plugin for Your Website

Of all the WordPress plugins you might consider using, beyond those required for a WordPress for Toastmasters setup, Jetpack should be on your short list. It’s active on every Toastmost.org website but requires some additional configuration.

Useful features of Jetpack:

  • Social media sharing buttons
  • A contact form
  • A basic site stats utility for monitoring traffic to your website
  • Additional content formatting blocks and sidebar widgets
  • Enhanced photo galleries and sliders

The Jetpack plugin is made by Automattic, the primary corporate backer of the open source WordPress.org project and the operator of WordPress.com. It allows independent Websites to take advantage of services from the WordPress.com network — including some that Automattic charges for. For a Toastmasters club website, I recommend you stick to the free features.

When you activate Jetpack, you will be prompted to connect to or create a WordPress.com account. Expect to see lots of prompts encouraging you to sign up for a paid subscription to the Jetpack service. Instead, I encourage you to sign up for the basic plan.

Jetpack setup screen
Jetpack setup

Once you have made the connection, you will be able to turn on various Jetpack features. For example, in the screenshot below, I’ve turned on the display of social sharing buttons but chosen not to use the feature that automatically shares new blog posts on social media.

Jetpack options screenshot
Configuring Jetpack options

The Site Stats feature is a nice way of seeing whether content to your site is growing and which pages or posts are attracting traffic. For example, this snapshot for Online Presenters Toastmasters shows that my article on launching screen sharing more smoothly in Zoom is attracting interest, even though it’s more than a year old.

Jetpack traffic stats screenshot
JetPack Site Stats

Deciding what to turn on is a matter of taste, and I’m not going to attempt to explain all the many options, but here are a few resources:

Video: Change the Look of Your Club Website

I had been looking for an excuse to show off the new WordPress themes available to Toastmasters clubs when a last-minute speech slot opened up at Online Presenters Toastmasters, the club I led to charter in 2017.

Here’s the presentation, introduced by my friend Jim Barber.

New WordPress Themes Demo

For more documentation on these design choices, see 5 New Toastmasters-branded WordPress Website Designs.

And while I’ve got you …

I’m also available to consult on business websites, with professional speaker websites as one specialty (see lindamariemiller.com for my work with this year’s second place winner from the World Championship of Public Speaking).

David F. Carr, WordPress for Toastmasters project
Book a meeting with me: 30 minutes / 60 minutes

5 New Toastmasters-branded WordPress Website Designs

Five new design choices are now available to users of the Toastmost.org website hosting service associated with the WordPress for Toastmasters project. See also: video demo of how to change your website theme.

Like Lectern, which remains the default on Toastmost, these themes have been reviewed by Toastmasters International for conformance with the official brand guidelines and inclusion of the required disclaimers and intellectual property credits.

Toastmasters club website design choices
Toastmasters-branded website designs.

Lectern may still be the simplest choice for a club webmaster who doesn’t want to have to futz too much with the design. On the other hand, some ambitious webmasters have asked for more design freedom, and these choices should help. You get more freedom to customize, but please note that you are responsible for making sure your customizations respect the Toastmasters International branding rules (more on that below).

In WordPress, your choice of a theme — a set of templates for your home page, blog posts, and other content — is a basic choice that determines how your website will look. These new choices are “child themes” or variations on popular themes, including the reference designs the developers behind WordPress featured for 2016, 2017, and 2019, and 2020.

Continue reading “5 New Toastmasters-branded WordPress Website Designs”

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Use Your Own Domain with Toastmost Club Website Hosting

Toastmasters club website domain

The Toastmost club website hosting service associated with the WordPress for Toastmasters is looking for clubs to test a new option, which allows you to use your own web domain (myclub.com) as opposed to a subdomain of toastmost.org (myclub.toastmost.org). Among other things, your club may gain a branding advantage by having a simpler domain consistent with the name of your club.

Because adding your domain to a Toastmost-hosted site requires a little extra configuration, this feature will probably be offered for an upgrade charge TBD — but you can get it at no charge as “beta tester” for a limited time. The only expense to your club will be registering the domain through a service such as GoDaddy.

Until now, if you wanted to use your own web domain (www.myclub.com instead of myclub.toastmost.org), you had to set up your own WordPress website and be prepared to administer it yourself — which is more expensive and technically complex. With hosting through Toastmost.org, I take care of the more technical details related to website maintenance and security.

Details:

  • You are responsible for registering your own domain through GoDaddy or one of its competitors. I will give you a few settings you will record with your domain registrar to “point” the domain to “point it” at the Toastmost service.
  • You will get access to the same assortment of WordPress plugins that are available to other Toastmost.org sites.
  • Currently, the only supported theme for club websites is Lectern, a design that has been reviewed for brand conformance by Toastmasters International.
  • In addition to your website, you will have the option of having email addresses and forwarders associated with your domain.
  • Clubs with established websites that volunteer for the beta program should be prepared for some disruption to the operation of their website when I “flip the switch” to turn on the domain hosting feature. I will do my best to make the transition as smooth as possible and can schedule it for an “off time” when members are less likely to be trying to access your site.
  • If you want complete technical control over your site (and are prepared to take complete technical responsibility), you may still prefer to run the WordPress for Toastmasters software on your own, independent hosting.

Update 10/16/2020

After going through it a couple of times, here is what the process looks like:

  • You let me know what domain you want to direct to the Toastmost server. I set the server to recognize traffic for that domain.
  • You make a couple of changes with your domain registrar to start directing traffic to Toastmost. I will send detailed instructions.
  • Initially, visitors will be forwarded to the subdomain address of your website. Once we have that working, I move onto the final steps …
  • I set up a security certificate so your site will show up with the padlock icon in your browser and flip the switch to make your domain name the primary address for your website. Anyone trying to visit your old subdomain will be redirected to the new address.

If you’re interested, write to david@wp4toastmasters.com.

Video: 15-Minute Overview of WordPress for Toastmasters

I delivered this overview as a guest speaker at The Choice Toastmasters of Charleston, SC. It covers the origins of the open source software project and the toastmost.org service. See examples from my home club, Club Awesome, and Online Presenters Toastmasters.

  • Marketing / recruiting advantages of a club website using WordPress based on WordPress.
  • Why you might consider using WordPress even though Toastmasters offers a free default option, Free Toast Host.
  • Demo of the agenda management tools.
  • How to use the online speech evaluation forms. Toastmasters makes evaluation forms available as PDFs, but web-based forms can be more convenient than emailing PDFs back and forth. This is an example of rethinking how a club should function when it meets online.
  • Volunteer opportunities: how you can help make the documentation and training materials or the software itself better.

Online Meeting

Schedule Varies 7:00 PM
Toastmaster of the Day:
Open
Introduces supporting roles. Leads the meeting.
Timer:
Open
Ah Counter:
Open
Grammarian:
Open
Watcher:
Open
Chat Monitor:
Open
Vote Counter:
Open
Speaker:
Open
As a rule, we should have no more than one speech longer than 5-7 minutes.
Speaker:
Open
As a rule, we should have no more than one speech longer than 5-7 minutes.
Speaker:
Open
As a rule, we should have no more than one speech longer than 5-7 minutes.
Backup Speaker:
Open
As a rule, we should have no more than one speech longer than 5-7 minutes.

Toastmaster asks for the Timer’s Report & vote for the Best Speaker of the Day

Topics Master:
Open
Leads the Table Topics impromptu speaking section of the meeting. Priority toward members not performing any roles.

Topics Master asks for the Timer’s Report & vote for the Best Topics Speaker of the Day

General Evaluator:
Open
General Evaluator leads the evaluation portion of the meeting, starting with the prepared speech evaluations.
Evaluator:
Open
Evaluator:
Open
Evaluator:
Open

General Evaluator asks for the Timer’s Report & vote for the Best Evaluator of the Day

General Evaluator continues with the functionary reports (the Grammarian, the Watcher, the Ah Counter, and the Chat Monitor – 1 minute each).

General Evaluator rounds out this portion of the meeting by giving an overall evaluation, 2-3 minutes. General Evaluator should aim ONLY to add any new insights, not re-evaluate speakers or repeat information covered by others.

General Evaluator asks Vote Counter to reveal the winners of the meeting

Theme and Word of the Day

Editable note block will appear here

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