Here is the process I recommend for making sure you have a full roster of speakers and volunteers for your next meeting, using the tools available through WordPress for Toastmasters.
Step 1: Get People to Sign Up at Your Meetings.
In my experience, you will not get everyone to sign up online, but you can save yourself some work if you can get even a fraction of your members to do so. Because my home club, Club Awesome, is healthy and growing, we have recently seen better participation from people signing up online for speeches — because we have speeches booked several weeks in advance. But we still pass around a paper signup sheet, which you can print from the website (more on that later).
After the meeting, the VP of Education or another officer will use the Edit Signups feature to record the offline signups in the online system.
Step 2: Invite Members to Fill the Gaps on the Agenda, Online
Next, email out the agenda. That option is under Agenda on the menu.
You will have the opportunity to customize the subject line and add a personal note at the top of the message. What people receive in their email inbox will look something like this.
By including a link to the specific agenda we are trying to get people to sign up for, you encourage people to sign up online. Ideally, you want them to come in and click on Take Role.
Some people will instead email you back. That works, too.
In my club, the Toastmaster of the Day is supposed to be responsible for filling all roles (as much as possible) prior to the day of the meeting. Sending another of these email messages, showing the roles that are still open, is one way to do that. Typically, we also wind up making a few phone calls, sending a few texts, whatever is needed to fill out the roster.
We then go back into Edit Signups mode to add the people who didn’t sign up online but let us know through some other channel that we can count them in.
Step 3: Print the Agenda and the Signup Sheet
Click on Agenda (or the Print submenu option) to get a printable version of the agenda. Alternatively, you can click on Export to Word to get a version of the agenda you can edit and format further in Microsoft Word.
Click on Signup Sheet to get a printable signup sheet. The roles that have already been filled by people signing up online (or that you or another officer previously reserved for them) will already be filled in, making it clear which open roles you still want to fill.
Pass around the signup sheet during your meeting. Repeat Step 1, recording the offline signups and sending out another email inviting people to participate.
Step 4: Reconcile the Agenda with Reality
If you are using the record keeping and reporting features of WordPress for Toastmasters, you or some other club leaders should also be responsible for making notes on how the plan differed from reality. In other words, who signed up but didn’t show up? Who stepped up at the last minute to fill a role?
Under the Toastmasters menu on the Administrator’s dashboard, you will find a screen called Reconcile that allows you to reconcile your records with reality. It works a lot like the Edit Signups function, except that you use it to record data on past meetings rather than future ones. Optionally, you can also record who was called on for table topics. If you want to track attendance, you can also do that on this screen.
It is possible to go a little more paperless with this process by recording edits to the roster online, while you’re at the meeting, using a laptop, an iPad or even a smart phone. I’ve tested the signup form on my phone, and it works pretty well.