Agenda Setup Change, Improved Integration With WordPress Editor

The latest WordPress for Toastmasters software update changes what you will see on the Agenda Setup screen, taking advantage of the WordPress visual editor. This also means a better experience for anyone who uses the standard WordPress editor to update a meeting or meeting template.

In either mode, you will see placeholder images for the role signup slots and the notes to be placed on the agenda, like this:

Placeholder images displayed in the editor.
Placeholder images displayed in the editor.

You can reorder these images using drag-and-drop. Click on any image and hold the button down while dragging straight up or down.

Double-clicking on any of these placeholders opens a dialog box that allows you to change settings for the Role or Agenda Note.

Editing the parameters for a role
Editing the parameters for a role

Each of the roles you define will be displayed on the website, as a signup form for logged-in members, and on the printable agenda.

The Agenda Note placeholders are good for adding “stage directions” to the agenda. You can have these appear only on the agenda (the default), only on the web form, or in both contexts.

Two custom buttons within the editor allow you to add Toastmaster Role or Agenda Note fields to the form and agenda.

Custom editor buttons
Custom editor buttons

It is also possible to add text, images, and other content that is not contained within an Agenda Note placeholder. In that case, the content will be displayed in all contexts — on the form, on the printable agenda, and on the website. I can think of a few situations where that could be useful, for example to display a holiday image on the agenda. However, in general I would advise you to be careful not to clutter up the form.

Visual editor versus Text editor

The experience described above assumes you have the WordPress editor must be in Visual mode, rather than Text mode, as controlled by the tabs in the upper right hand corner of the editing area. Text mode displays any HTML code included in the content of a page, post, or event as code, rather than its visual equivalent. If you’re not comfortable working with code, keep the editor in Visual mode.

Text view shows a textual representation of shortcodes.
Text view shows the underlying code for the toastmaster and agenda_notes shortcodes.

Most of the code you will see in a Toastmasters agenda template is not HTML but what WordPress calls “shortcodes” — placeholders for custom output generated by software, like the Toastmasters Role signup buttons displayed when a member has logged in. I only recently figured out a way of creating a visual representation for the Toastmasters role and agenda note placeholders (so non-techies who try to edit one of these documents will not be scared off by a bunch of cryptic code). Previously, anyone who clicked “Edit Event” rather than “Agenda Setup” would see a screen full of code loaded into the editor, in either Visual or Text modes.

For consistency, the Agenda Setup screen has been updated to also use the WordPress editor, rather than the custom user interface I was using previously. The advantage of the Agenda Setup screen is it’s a little more specific to Toastmasters.

Webinar: WordPress for Toastmasters Tutorial, Tues. Jan. 5 @ 7 pm Eastern Time

Start off 2016 with a new Toastmasters club website. This webinar will cover the options for setting up a free club website here or using the free software to set up your own, independently hosted site. It will also be an opportunity to get answers to your questions from the creator of the software, David F. Carr, social media chair at Toastmasters District 47.

Wednesday January 6, 2016 12:00 AM UTC

See the video replay.

The WordPress for Toastmasters project aims to provide Toastmasters clubs with a more full-featured web and social media marketing platform, combined with tools for meeting management and tracking member progress. This webinar will cover how to set up and manage a website, either as a subdomain of a related site, (, or as an independent website. The “cloud” service and the open source software are both free.

This software was originally created for use by Club Awesome Toastmasters, so you can look at for an example of how having a blog built into the website makes it easier to offer distinctive features like a “Video Guide to a Toastmasters Meeting” with sample speeches, evaluations, and table topics to give site visitors a better taste of the Toastmasters experience.

RSVP deadline is past

Posted by David F. Carr on January 22, 2016

WordPress for Toastmasters combines WordPress, a standard platform that powers many online publications, and adding a WordPress-branded theme and plugins that add Toastmasters-specific functions. The software is freely available through the WordPress plugin repository, and free (ad-supported) sites are also available through

Lectern theme's utility for adding Toastmasters-branded banners.
Customizing a website’s appearance with Toastmasters-branded banners.

Introducing, a New Domain for Club Websites

The latest addition to the WordPress for Toastmasters project is a separate domain for club websites,

The site you create for your club will get an address like (similar to what you get on Previously, the free club websites I offered got an address like

The signup form.
The signup form.

The goal is to provide you with a shorter web address (easier to fit on a business card or brochure). In addition, it de-emphasizes the underlying technology (the “wp” in Prospective members don’t care that you’re using WordPress. We want them focused on what you do with it —the impressive website you create.

The Toastmost home page is just a signup form, plus links for those who want to get more information (all the documentation, including guidelines on creating your own independent website with the same software, will remain on

Video: Create Your Own WordPress-powered Toastmasters Website

See how you can turn any WordPress website into a powerful tool for club marketing and meeting management. These instructions apply to setting up a site independent of or but using the same software. (If you set up a free site, follow these simpler instructions).

See also: Hosting Your Own WordPress for Toastmasters Website.

Video: Sign Up and Setup a Free Toastmasters Club Website

This tutorial covers the new, improved sign up process to get your club up and running and productive with WordPress for Toastmasters as quickly as possible. It covers the basics of how to set up your meeting schedule and agenda, add members (using the membership roster spreadsheet from, organize meetings, and edit your new home page.

Video Tips for Toastmasters Contests

I believe you are missing a huge opportunity if you neglect to video record the speeches at your contests, particularly at the area level and above. Contests are a chance our the most accomplished speakers to shine, and sharing videos of those speeches (with the speaker’s permission) is a potentially great tool for social media marketing of Toastmasters and its clubs. It’s also a great way to recognize contestants for their skill.

Here is an example of a club contest video that’s been uploaded to YouTube, shared to Facebook, and also posted to our club’s website.


In the comments beneath this post, I added a link to our club website inviting people to visit. I also added, “If you enjoyed the video, please share it with your friends.” If you can get people to share content that links back to your club or district website, that can be a great way of reaching a wider audience.

Here are a few tips on the etiquette for recording speakers and on how to get a reasonable quality video recording. (If you can recruit a video professional great, but I’m going on the assumption that this will be a do-it-yourself project).


  • Let the speakers know that you plan to video record their speeches.
  • If anyone asks not to be recorded, respect their wish.
  • For clarity, and to cover yourself legally, get a signed video release in advance. I use this version, which includes the language recommended by Toastmasters International but also explains a little about the ground rules recommended below: Contest Video Release (PDF).
  • Allow the speakers to review the recording before deciding whether they want it shared in any publicity or on social media (more on that below).
  • If you get a “yes” to sharing the video, encourage the speaker and the officers of his or her club to share that video widely on social media.
  • If a speaker will be moving up to the next level (Area, Division, District, International), refrain from promoting a speech video in any way that could be construed as “campaigning” for that contestant. Contestants may also be concerned about “tipping off” the competition to the content of their speech. Either way, there’s no rush: as a social media marketing tool, these videos will be just as valuable months after all those concerns fade away.

The technique that has worked well for me is to upload videos to YouTube, but tag them as “unlisted” rather than “public.” There is also a “private” status, but it’s more difficult to work with in the mode I’m describing. An unlisted video does not show up in searches and people browsing YouTube will not just stumble across it — you have to have the link.

Setting a YouTube video to "unlisted"
Setting a YouTube video to “unlisted”

I send a listing of the links to all the contest videos to all the contestants and ask if I have their permission to share the video publicly. The winners, at least, usually say yes.

Recording Good Video

The biggest pitfall of recording a speech video is audio, not video — if you have the camera too far away from the speaker, viewers of the video will not be able to hear what the speakers are saying. A speech video without the speech part is not very useful. Unless you are working with a professional camera equipped with a sensitive directional antenna, you will have to arrange to have your camera close to the stage or speaking area.

You do not need an expensive camera. In fact, the camera in your phone will do in a pinch if you can manage to hold the camera steady. Remember to hold the camera horizontally for a TV-like aspect ratio.

An actual video camera has the advantage of being easier to mount on a tripod, and a tripod makes it much easier to get a steady image.

Pan the camera back and forth just enough to keep the speaker in the frame. I usually leave the camera’s zoom control zoomed to the widest view to minimize the need to pan.

Editing and Uploading Videos

Even when recording video from my phone, I usually copy the video file to a PC and upload it to YouTube (or sometimes directly to Facebook) from there. Check the documentation for your phone or camera, or search the web, for tips on how to do that.

You may or may not need to edit the video before uploading it. You may wind up with a recording that includes content that’s not really part of the speech, such as moments a contestant spent shaking the contest master’s hand and getting in position. Trimming that material will give you a stronger video. There are free video editors available for both Macs and Windows that will let you select a few seconds of video to shave off the beginning and the end of your video clip.

Computer software may also help you upload the speeches more efficiently than if you just went through the web interface on YouTube. YouTube also allows you to specify a speech title and a description. Be sure to provide the context: that this speech is from a Toastmasters speech contest, at what level, and where. In the description, I suggest also including the name of the club the speaker belongs to along with the club’s website address.

Video is a great way to show people what Toastmasters is all about. Make the most of it.

Video: #Toastmasters Social Media Outreach Tactics

Here is how to get Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media resources all working in concert with your website to showcase just how awesome your club is. I shared a version of this at a Toastmasters District 47 leadership event, encouraging area and district directors to help all their clubs get the most out of the reach social media gives them.

While the WordPress for Toastmasters project certainly features prominently in this video, I tried to put it in the context of what I’m seeking to accomplish with all my website and social media outreach — finding better ways to connect with more people, while showcasing the value of Toastmasters with more engaging content.

Collecting Statistics on Member Performance

Competent Communicator Report
Competent Communicator Report

One of the promises of WordPress for Toastmasters is to make it easier for members to sign into the site and sign up for roles — and for club leaders to keep track of progress toward goals like the Competent Communicator award. The statistics gathered through the site need not be perfect to give a VP Education a better idea of where members stand in their Toastmasters journey, but here are a two key tips on making them more accurate.

Enter Activity Occurring Outside of the Agenda


On the administrator’s dashboard, go to Toastmasters Reports -> Edit Member Stats. When you first start using WordPress for Toastmasters, this screen will allow you to enter the statistics you have been tracking by other means (such as in a spreadsheet). Thereafter, you can use the same screen to enter adjustments, for example when members speak at other clubs and report back to you on their progress. Some of the Competent Leader activities like organizing a contest would also be recorded on this screen.

importfthNote: If you are switching from Free Toast Host and previously recorded these statistics in that system, you may be able to import that data rather than manually reentering it. Look for the Import Free Toast Host menu item at the bottom of the administrator’s dashboard.

Reconcile the Planned Agenda With Actual Activity


Go to Toastmasters Reports -> Reconcile. Make adjustments for the people who signed up but didn’t show up, as well as those who took on additional roles at the last minute. For speaker roles, it’s important to record the specific manual project — that’s the only way the system knows that a speech was a CC manual speech as opposed to an advanced manual or non-manual speech.

WordPress for Toastmasters in Multiple Languages

Changing the Site Language
Changing the Site Language

I’m looking for help from bilingual Toastmasters on the translation/localization of WordPress for Toastmasters for use around the world.

WordPress itself makes its user interface available in many different languages and also provides a mechanism for plugins like the ones I used to create this site to have menu labels, button labels, and instructional text translated into multiple languages.

See how you can help at

* This software is offered "for Toastmasters" but not is provided by or endorsed by Toastmasters International. The use of Toastmasters brand assets (with proper disclaimers) in website designs has been reviewed by the Toastmasters International brand compliance team.