District Outreach for Toastmost and WordPress for Toastmasters

In the coming months I hope to speak with more of you who are district leaders — or have influence with district leaders — about allowing me to present a workshop to leaders in your district or, better yet, agreeing to sponsor club websites on Toastmost.org. I am also available to help with district websites.

I hope to be able to announce soon that I’ll be working on one or more districts on all of those things. WordPress for Toastmasters is an independently funded operation, and district sponsorship is one way to fund its continued expansion. The Toastmost hosting service, where most users of the software have established their websites, recently got a significant upgrade and needs to earn its way back to break even. Toastmasters International provides branding review but not funding.

I’m happy to present to any district with or without any bigger commitment. However, for those who may be interested, details on a more ambitious program are included below.

Value of the Toastmost Service

Toastmost aspires to deliver both marketing power and innovations in agenda and club management in one package. The software benefits from continual innovation in the broader WordPress community, so features like mobile website support and social media integration are superior.

Popular features include web-based forms for evaluations and for the membership application, as well as online payments integration for collecting dues. The underlying software is available for use on other web hosting services, but Toastmost has it all preconfigured.

Districts may also choose to sponsor the cost of club websites, “buying in bulk” to make the service available free for clubs within the district.

The regular club rate is $50 per year for each club, following a 6-month free trial. Districts might consider encouraging clubs to sign up for the free trial. If enough clubs see the value and want to continue using the software, the district can negotiate a flat rate to allow access for all district clubs.

Pricing for the 2021-2022 Toastmasters year: If a district invests $500, the first 15 clubs to go live from that district will get a year of Toastmost service for free. Since the clock doesn’t start running until the end of their six months free, they would actually get access for at least 18 months (even if future district leaders don’t continue the relationship). The “go live” requirement is that the club must make its website public (available to be indexed in search engines). New club websites are set to discourage indexing by search engines to allow club leaders time for testing and content development.

Ideally, we would encourage dozens of district clubs to at least set up a trial account with the goal of getting 15 or more to commit to modernizing their club website.

For details, write to Toastmost.org’s David F. Carr, DTM, or set up a Zoom meeting using https://calendly.com/davidfcarr/after-hours/

Help with District Websites

Mockup of a district website.

You can see a mockup of a district website with a sample leader directory at d2021.toastmost.org. I expect to unveil an example of a revamped district website I worked on within the next few weeks. I’m holding off on naming the district until it’s official, but the idea is to make it a website worth bragging about. I’m talking with the PRM at another district that may come on board.

District websites may be hosted at Toastmost or with another web host that supports WordPress. The details are subject to negotiation.

I expect most districts to want the site to appear with their own web domain rather than the subdomain.toastmost.org setup of the demo site.

See the Toastmost for Districts page for more details.

Mobile Friendly Feature: Suggest a Role with One-Click Confirmation

As part of my work on modern, mobile-friendly websites for Toastmasters, I’ve been working on a way of making it easier for members to confirm a role they’ve been nominated for from a smartphone, without needing to enter a password. Also better on the desktop for people who have trouble keeping their passwords straight (which I think is all of us).

A similar one-click signup feature is included when you email out the agenda to everyone. However, people tend to be more likely to respond to a personal message than a broadcast asking “would anyone like to volunteer.”

As a meeting organizer, you can click “Suggest” instead of “Edit” for any role, add a personal note, and have the role nomination sent to the member by email. If they respond better to mobile text messages than to email, there’s also a trick (shown in the video demo) for sending the link from your phone to theirs.

I cross-posted something about this in the Toastmasters International Official Members group, so if you like this feature give a shout out there. https://www.facebook.com/davidfcarr/videos/525066598812903

Check it out.

Thanks,

David F. Carr, DTM, david@wp4toastmasters.com

New: One-Click Signup From Agenda Emails

A new, mobile-friendly one-click signup feature makes it easier for members to sign up for an open role they see in one of your agenda emails. Works with agenda emails sent out manually or as automated reminders.

In addition, meeting organizers can send a specific member an individual note nominating them for a role — and the member can confirm it with the same one-click process.

Creating a Toastmost.org Toastmasters Club Website from Scratch: Full Course

The Toastmost.org service provides Toastmasters clubs and districts with a modern, mobile-friendly WordPress-based design for marketing, recruiting, and agenda management. Signing up at Toastmost.org is the easiest way to get access to the WordPress for Toastmasters software. You don’t have to be a techie, but you do have to want to put some energy into improving your Toastmasters club’s digital presence.

This course is based on a training webinar I gave on June 29, as a follow up to a 5-minute promo video delivered as part of the Tech Tips session at VTM CON, an international online event organized by online Toastmasters clubs. You’re getting the more concise, edited version.

You can watch the whole series of videos (about 50 minutes total) as a YouTube playlist or browse them individually here. See the section at the end of the blog post for a summary of the Toastmost value proposition in comparison with Free Toast Host and other options.

The 5-Minute Pitch

Continue reading “Creating a Toastmost.org Toastmasters Club Website from Scratch: Full Course”

2 New Toastmasters-Branded WordPress Themes

Freshly blessed by the Toastmasters International branding team, two striking new WordPress themes are now available on Toastmost.org or for download.

Both feature Loyal Blue and True Maroon color schemes straight out of the brand manual. Both are based on modern, mobile friendly WordPress themes. (In WordPress lingo, a theme sets up the overall design of a site within which you can add content).

Twenty Twenty One TM uses a Loyal Blue background
True Maroon features the background color it’s named for.

I’ve customized all the WordPress for Toastmasters themes so the color picker in the editor steers you toward the brand colors. That should help you create content that is beautiful but also brand compliant.

Customization of the WordPress color picker

Building on Twenty Twenty One

Both new themes are based on the Twenty Twenty One theme, one of the free reference themes for designers published by the creators of WordPress. They put out a new one every year, and I’ve created Toastmasters-branded versions of several. All of these designs have been approved by the Toastmasters International brand compliance team.

Twenty Twenty One introduced design options that the latest releases of WordPress make possible using block patterns. These are patterns of related content blocks like the overlapping images in the impressionist paintings example below.

Twenty Twenty One layout using the overlapping images block pattern.

In this mockup of a district website, I experimented with using that same layout for photos of a fictitious trio leadership team.

Mockup of the leadership page on a district website.

These are just examples. Your creativity will determine what works best for your club or district.

The Do It Yourself Alternative

The easiest way to get access to these designs is by signing up for an account on Toastmost.org, the club website hosting service based on the WordPress for Toastmasters software.

Those wishing to use these themes on a different WordPress server can download this ZIP file. With the exception of Lectern, these are all child themes, meaning you must install the “parent” theme also — for example, Twenty Twenty One TM and True Maroon both must be installed in combination with the Twenty Twenty One theme from the official WordPress repository.

WordPress for Toastmasters Presentation to Speech Weavers, District 53

Monday June 21, 2021 7:00 PM EDT
 

Join Speech Weavers Toastmasters and invited guests from District 53 for a 15-minute guest presentation on how clubs can get a more powerful and effective website using the WordPress for Toastmasters software, with hosting and support from Toastmost.org. Members of other districts are welcome to join as well.

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/96063519445?pwd=VDdEWTc2ZFVHZ0NJakdFeXZHTFdMZz09

RSVP (optional) to get a reminder on the day of the event.

RSVP deadline is past

Create a Website That’s Impressive and Effective

Tuesday June 22, 2021 6:30 PM EDT
 

Join Positively Impacting Lives Toastmasters for a workshop with David F. Carr, DTM, on how to create a club website that’s impressive and effective as part of a broader digital and social media marketing program.

The first impression potential members get of your club will probably be an online impression, either on your website or social media. Simply put, 21st Century humans research just about everything online before they encounter it in person.

Are you making a strong and positive impression with what you put online? Learn how to make it stronger and more fabulous in this workshop by David F. Carr, founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project, creator of the Toastmost.org club and district website hosting service, and founding president of the largest of the online Toastmasters clubs, Online Presenters.

David will share how using WordPress for your club website opens up additional possibilities for promotion and engagement and what sort of content you ought to be publishing (whether on WordPress or not) and events you can use to attract interest.

Zoom Meeting ID 880 1391 3880 | Password 550105

RSVP here (optional) to get a reminder on the day of the event.

RSVP deadline is past

Zoom Meeting Timer App Worth Trying

A new option I recommend Toastmasters clubs meeting online consider for displaying timing signals is an app that displays the timing signals as an extra “participant” in Zoom meetings. The creator, Zoom Blue Sky Apps, has agreed to offer a 50% discount off the pro version pricing to Toastmasters clubs. Follow this promo link to try it for free and consider whether the deal makes sense for you.

Disclosure: BlueSky is giving my home club, Online Presenters, a freebie subscription as consideration for promoting their app. We tested it at OP earlier this week, and a representative of the company visited us.

BlueSky noticed I had some search engine traction on the phrase “Zoom timer” as a result of creating my the WP for Toastmasters web-based timer that you can share as a background image using something like OBS Studio. The beauty of their solution is it does not require any additional software.

Web-based control panel for the BlueSky timer

While I still like my own timer for the way it syncs with the agenda, the best of both worlds answer would be to find a way of integrating my software with BlueSky’s. They haven’t made me any promises, but maybe if the Toastmasters world shows enough interest?

At a minimum, I suggest you check out the free trial.

New Toastmost for Districts Offer

One of several Toastmasters-branded WordPress themes

Toastmost is introducing hosting for district websites and also talking to some districts about sponsoring websites for clubs in their district. Allowing Toastmost to handle some of the technical aspects of hosting a Toastmasters-branded WordPress site allows your district webmaster and PR team to focus on telling the story of what makes your district special.

Districts who choose to host their website with the Toastmost service get:

  • Access to WordPress themes (designs) that have been preapproved by Toastmasters International — with the opportunity to innovate within that design.
  • Configuration of the website to use the district’s own domain.
  • District-specific features, including support for hybrid online/offline business meetings, which will be enhanced over the coming year in collaboration with district leaders and their webmasters.
  • Events calendar with registration feature built into the website.
  • Support for online payments, including event fees.
  • Option to create accounts for area, division, and district officers, allowing them to publish content to the website or draft content for approval. You also get the option to publish content such as contact information to members-only pages that only someone who has been issued a password can access.
  • Access to features originally developed for club use, such as contest tools with digital ballots and vote counting.
  • Technical support for district webmasters.
  • Consultation with Toastmost creator David F. Carr, DTM, on digital strategy.

For details, write to Toastmost.org’s David F. Carr, DTM, or set up a Zoom meeting using https://calendly.com/davidfcarr/after-hours/

Terms and Pricing

  • 60-day trial for testing of unpublished websites.
  • $500 per year for hosting and technical support. Price is the same if you want to host the website independently (requiring me to work with a different technical infrastructure). District support will help Toastmost continue to offer low-cost club websites.
  • Starter template includes:
    • A district calendar, which with the option of registration links for specific events.
    • An “About us,” which a placeholder for historical information about the District and current leaderships/photos/contact information.
    • Specific email addresses which can be transferred from one leader to another in a different year (e.g., from one Area Director to the next). These can be hosted on the web server or configured to work with Google Workspace (subscription cost not included).
    • Email distribution lists.
    • Trio-only (Area Visit Reports), DEC-only (upcoming meeting agendas and minutes), and/or District Council access to documents, (e.g., proxies, committee reports, prior to the various meetings).
    • Awards/recognition pages for members, clubs, and the district itself.
    • Websites will be mocked up with placeholders for content that your district webmaster and district leaders can quickly fill in.

Districts may also choose to sponsor the cost of club websites, “buying in bulk” to make the service available free for clubs within the district.

The regular club rate is $50 per year for each club, following a 6-month free trial. Districts might consider encouraging clubs to sign up for the free trial. If enough clubs see the value and want to continue using the software, the district can negotiate a flat rate to allow access for all district clubs.

Package deal for the 2021-2022 Toastmasters year: If a district hosts its district website with Toastmost, an additional investment of $500 will allow as many district clubs as want to take advantage to get a free year of WordPress web hosting. Since the clock doesn’t start running until the end of their six months free, they would actually get access for at least 18 months (even if future district leaders don’t continue the relationship).

For details, write to Toastmost.org’s David F. Carr, DTM, or set up a Zoom meeting using https://calendly.com/davidfcarr/after-hours/

Toastmost Email Forwarding, Email Lists, and Automations

Club websites hosted on Toastmost.org get access to several services for managing email communication with officers and members, handling notifications from Toastmasters.org, and forwarding messages. A new addition, as of June 2021, is the ability to configure custom forwarders.

Club website administrators will find these options on the Toastmost menu, right under the Toastmasters menu (available to all members) and TM Administration for site editors and administrators. The Toastmost functions are specific to the hosted service and not included in the open source version of the software.