New Vote Counter’s Tool for Online and Hybrid Meetings

If your club is conducting online or hybrid meetings, and members vote on weekly awards like “Best Table Topic Speech,” here is something new to try.

I think this method could be better than voting by private chat in Zoom (which is what my clubs have typically done) or using the polling feature. Here’s a video demo.

See this knowledge base article for step-by-step instructions. The screenshots there reflect a few changes I made after the video was recorded.

The Vote Counter’s Tool makes it easy to set up a digital ballot that includes the names of speakers who signed up in advance and add other names as needed. The vote counter then posts a link in the public chat. Meeting participants who follow that link get a simple ballot that allows them to vote.

Logging into the website is not required for anyone other than the vote counter. Voting members are identified by IP address and other means, just enough to make sure nobody’s vote is counted twice.

As votes roll in, the vote counter is able to see the current tally. In a hybrid meeting, where some votes can come in on slips of paper rather than using the online ballot, the vote counter can add those votes to the tally.

Drawbacks of Other Methods

  • Voting by private chat: Until recently, I thought this was the simplest option. However, the last time I served at vote counter at a meeting where there was a lot of chat activity, I found it challenging to sort out the votes from the other messages posted in the chat stream.
  • Zoom polls: Only someone logged in as the meeting host can set up a poll. Members who may have been assigned cohost rights will find they cannot vote. Also, at the conclusion of the poll, the results are displayed onscreen in a manner you might not necessarily want. That is, it shows the margin of victory in a way that might hurt someone’s pride.
  • Third party apps: Various smartphone and web apps provide other ways of casting and counting votes. The tradeoff is that you’re adding yet another piece of technology into the meeting. Also, these apps don’t pull data from the agenda the way my vote counting tool can.

Room for Improvement?

This feature is new and may need to be improved. It got good reviews when I tried it for the first time, at my home club, Club Awesome, and again at Online Presenters. If you encounter glitches or have suggestions for improvement, let me know by writing to

Replay: WordPress for Toastmasters Tutorial / Q&A for November 2018

This session didn’t attract a large crowd, but it attracted a good one — with lots of excellent questions. I hope you benefit from learning the answers.

Show Notes

The two plugins used in the WordPress for Toastmasters system are RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters.

They are pre-installed on accounts.

The Lectern theme makes it easy to add Toastmasters approved branding.

The documentation is at WordPress for Toastmasters ( and you can go to to register for a free (ad supported website).

Video: Working with the Interactive Agenda

This tutorial covers some hidden gems and relatively new features in the WordPress for Toastmasters agenda management system, such as the ability to assign roles based on who hasn’t done them lately and the “Agenda with Contacts” view that lets you see contact information of members in the context of who has or has not taken a role.

Agenda menu tutorial

I presented this as a speech at Club Awesome Toastmasters in Coral Springs, Florida, where the WordPress for Toastmasters software was born.

This tutorial doesn’t cover absolutely everything, but it touches on the major menu items. The basic idea to understand is that the agenda is a document that can be viewed in multiple modes:

  • A role signup form
  • A meeting organizer’s view of the form for editing assignments
  • A printable agenda
  • A version you can send to members via email when you are trying to fill roles, showing openings on the agenda and the link to follow to sign up
Continue reading “Video: Working with the Interactive Agenda”

How To Adjust The Timing On Your Agenda

Please see updated instructions. The content below refers to an older version of the software.

agenda timing tool
The Agenda Timing tool lets you adjust the time associated with any item, or delete it entirely.

The Agenda Timing tool allows you to quickly adjust the timing of different parts of your agenda, without restructuring the entire event document or template in the WordPress editor (see How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template).

Agenda Timing is one of the choices under the Agenda Setup menu you see when you are logged in and viewing a meeting on the front end of the website. If the event is based on a template, you will also see Agenda Timing: Template as a choice — the option you would choose to change the standard timing plan for your meetings.

This tool lets you change the amount of time allocated for a Role or an Agenda Note (like the 5 minutes associated with the instruction “After Table Topics, we take a 5-minute break”). For speeches, evaluations, and any other roles filled by more than one member, the time estimate is for the entire block. For example, you might allow 24 minutes for a block of 3 speeches, leaving room for two 7-minute speeches and one of up to 10 minutes.

In the example shown in the video below, a member has reserved time for an advanced speech project that will take considerably more time than the standard 5-7 minutes. To allow that to happen, we adjust the total time allowed for speeches and drop Table Topics from the agenda entirely.

Another common way of handling this situation might be to allow the long speech but change the plan for this meeting from 3 speeches and 3 evaluators to 2 speeches and 2 evaluators and adjust the timing accordingly. A control at the bottom of the Agenda Timing tool lets you change the number of speakers and evaluators simultaneously.

As you make your choices, the times in the Time Elapsed column will change to show how your time allocations are adding up. The goal is to make it easier for you to plan a meeting that runs on time. It’s still up to you to make realistic estimates of how long different phases of the meeting will take — and then discipline your members to stick to those times.

This tool works well when:

  • You want to quickly change the time estimates
  • You may want to drop a role or a note but do not need to add either
  • You do not need to make any deeper structural changes, such as reordering items

If you instead want to reorganize the whole agenda, or restructure your standard template, follow the instructions under How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template. Example: you not only want to change the time estimates but you want to move Table Topics to the end of the meeting, so you can fit it in if there is time or drop it if other parts of the meeting run long.

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts that explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

How to Email the Agenda, Invite Members to Fill Roles

Club and meeting leaders can use the email version of the meeting agenda to fill open roles, sending it out with a link that invites members to sign up online with a couple of clicks.

You do that by selecting the Email option under the Agenda menu, like this:

How to Email the Agenda.

This tool allows you to add  custom message that will be included at the top of the email.

You can also change the default subject line of the email, for example to emphasize one particular opportunity to volunteer. For example, if I just got word that a speaker who had signed up previously has just backed out of speaking at tomorrow’s meeting, I would want to let them know. So the default “Agenda for Monday May 14” becomes “Speaker opening + 2 other open roles for Monday May 14.”

This is meant to be an easy way to send the current agenda, plus your volunteer needs, out to the whole member list via email.

How to Modify an Existing Agenda Event or Template

If you have the required editing rights on the website, you can edit any existing agenda event or event template. You will find the events listed under the main RSVP Events listing of event posts. Templates are listed under a submenu, RSVP Events -> Event Templates.

You would modify the template if you wanted to change the standard organization of roles and notes listed on the agenda. After modifying the template, you can update all the events based on that template.

You would modify an individual event, independent of its template (if any), to change the organization of a specific meeting. For example, you might be doing an all Table Topics meeting with no speakers.

The Roles and Agenda Notes for a specific meeting are represented by colored placeholders on the agenda. Double-click on any of those placeholders for a popup editor dialog that allows you to change the data associated with that role or note.

Double click on the placeholder images for a popup editor.

You can also add additional roles (How to Add Agenda Roles) and agenda notes (How to Add Agenda Notes).

To delete any role or note, click it and then press DELETE on your keyboard.

You can also cut-and-paste or drag-and-drop the colored placeholders to change the order in which the roles and notes appear on the agenda.

See also How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch.

How to Add Roles to the Agenda

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts that explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

To add a role to a new or existing agenda document, click the Toastmasters Role button on the button bar.

add role button
Add Role button

Clicking that button will display a dialog that allows you to specify the type of Role this is.

add role dialog
Add Role Dialog

The standard roles are listed on a dropdown list. You can also select “Custom” and type in the name of a role specific to your club, such as “Joke Master.”

The other options are:

  • Count – the number of times the role should be displayed on the signup form and agenda. For example, you might set Count to 3 if you plan to have 3 speakers.
  • Indent – a formatting command, indents the role slightly.
  • Agenda Note – an explanatory note associated with the role, displayed on the agenda but not the signup form.
  • Total Time Allowed – blocks out required time on the agenda. Can be used to warn if long speeches will consume more time than you planned for.
  • Extra Time – adds a buffer, for example for transitions between speeches.

When you save your choices, a blue placeholder image will appear in the WordPress editor. To change your choices, double-click on the placeholder image and the dialog will be displayed again.

role placeholder
Placeholder for a role in the WordPress editor

Here is what the signup form note would look like with signups for a  Toastmaster of the Day and multiple Speaker roles.

signup form
Roles and Agenda Note on signup form

And here is what the printable agenda looks like with a minimal setup.

printable agenda
Roles and Agenda Note on printable agenda

See also: How to Add Agenda Notes and How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch.

How to Add Agenda Notes

This is part of a series of How to Do X posts I will be adding to explain how to perform discrete tasks with the WordPress for Toastmasters solution.

A button at the top of the WordPress editor allows you to add an Agenda Note to an event. Think of these as “stage directions” for your meetings and/or directions and explanations for your signup form.

agenda note button
Agenda Note button

The dialog for an Agenda Note includes a text area for entering your message.

Agenda Note dialog
Agenda Note Dialog

Other options include:

  • Display On – choices are “agenda” (the default, will be displayed on the agenda only), “web” (the signup form) or “both”
  • Bold? / Italic? / Font size – basic formatting options
  • CSS Style (advanced) – advanced formatting options for web designers
  • Link (web address) – option to have a link displayed following the note
  • Editable field – See How to Create Editable Agenda Notes
  • Time Allowed – If the note describes an activity that will consume time on your agenda, you can assign the planned amount of time here.

When you save your choices, a red placeholder will be displayed in the WordPress editor. You can double-click that placeholder image to display the Agenda Note editor again and make changes.

agenda note placeholder
Agenda Note placeholder (red)

Here is what the printable agenda looks like with a minimal setup. The Agenda Note including the Sgt. at Arms duties is at the top, before the listing of meeting roles.

printable agenda
Roles and Agenda Note on printable agenda

See also How to Create a Meeting Agenda / Signup Form From Scratch

How to Create Editable Agenda Notes

This is one of a series of how-to posts.

In addition to containing standard “stage directions” to appear on your meeting agendas, an Agenda Note can be used to display information that changes from meeting to meeting, such as a theme or word of the day you want displayed on the agenda.

To make it easier to add and update that content, we include a title for an “Editable field” as part of the agenda note. In this case, you will typically leave the blank where you normally add the note content blank.

Editable field
Adding an Editable field title.

The placeholder that appears in the WordPress editor will be purple rather than red and will include the text “editable:” followed by the title you provide.

As with other Agenda Notes, you can designate that it should be displayed on the printable agenda view, on the web (signup form), or both.

A rich text editor widget will then appear in Edit Signups mode.

editing the editable field
Adding content to the Editable field.

This content will then be rendered on the agenda along with role signups and regular Agenda Note content.

editable on the agenda
Editable content on the agenda.


* 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.