Tracking, Updating Member Speech and Project History

The latest update to the WordPress for Toastmasters software includes several improvements to the system for tracking member activity, including more (still preliminary) support for the Pathways program.

The Toastmasters menu on the WordPress dashboard shows different options to the average member than to the administrator and club officers. The site administrator also has the option of deciding whether members should be able to see all the reports or only their own data (go to Settings -> Toastmasters and open the tab labeled Security).

At a minimum, every member has access to the My Progress screen with tabs labeled Basic Program (showing progress in the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader manuals), Speeches (listed chronologically and by manual), Advanced Awards, and Pathways. The Pathways screen is described in more detail below.

If the club allows members to update and edit their own data, tabs labeled Edit and Add Member Speech will also be displayed.

The Progress Reports screen is organized into the same list of tabs, but with the option to view reports and enter data for any member in the club.

Update History: One potentially disruptive change, for some club leaders, is the renaming of what used to be called the “Reconcile” screen on the administrator’s dashboard to “Update History.” If you are trying to keep accurate records of member speeches and roles completed, reconciling the agenda after the meeting is an important step to make sure the right people get credit for their participation. Letting the system gather most of that information from the agenda saves you time, but the reconciliation process cleans up discrepancies like last minute changes where one member was unable to attend and another stepped up to speak.

The reason for the name change is this screen can now be used to enter history from before you began using this software. For example, I was contacted by an officer of a club that has been meeting for several months and had records of roles filled at past meetings recorded on a spreadsheet. While it’s possible to record summary statistics like number of speeches given per manual, I wanted to make it easier for someone in that position to enter a series of meeting records without the need to create a bunch of back-dated events in the system.

How Precise Do You Want to Be?

As a club leader, it is up to you to decide how thorough you want to be about logging all data through the website software. It’s the software’s job to support your choices.

If you just want to use the website as a tool for organizing your meetings, you will get some basic tracking of member activity “for free” as part of that process, and the record will become more complete (particularly for new members) as time goes on). If that’s your attitude, you may not want to enter historical information at all.

Or you may want to add historical information at more of a summary level. The Edit tab in the Progress Reports screen will let a club leader enter summary statistics like how many speeches members have concluded in each manual. In other words, you can enter the number of CC speeches given, rather than entering the date, speech project, and title for each one. From that screen you can also make corrections to agenda records, such as adding the manual and project for a speech when that wasn’t done in advance.

Update History options

The argument for adding detailed historical information is that you and your members will need all the detailed information when applying for awards, meaning it could save you time and effort in the long run to have the data all in one place.

The Update History screen will allow you to enter records for past meetings on any date, using a form based on your meeting template.

If you just want to record speech projects, there is also the Add Member Speech tab on the Progress Reports screen.

New Pathways Tab

WordPress for Toastmasters has been phasing in some preliminary support for Pathways, the new Toastmasters educational program just starting to roll out to a handful of districts. I’ve been getting some exposure to it through Online Presenters Toastmasters, an online club I founded in which some of our members are also members of a club in a Pathways district.

WordPress for Toastmasters now includes Pathways projects on the signup form. The new web-based evaluation forms (introduced largely for the convenience of online clubs) also cover Pathways projects.

There is now a Pathways tab on the Progress reports screen that displays a summary of the progress of each member participating in Pathways. It shows a count of speeches completed in each level of the path selected by that member.

Overview of Member Progress in Pathways

When viewing the records for a specific member, you will see the listing of speeches the member has completed within that path. There is also a space for adding notes on other activities, such as completing self-assessments, that are part of the Pathways program.

Pathways record for an individual member.


Toastmasters International is providing more of its own online tools as part of the Pathways program, and it is not my intent to compete with them. The idea is to provide easier access to the information you gather in the natural course of business when you use WordPress for Toastmasters to organize your meeting agendas.

Other Enhancements

Following a recent overhaul of the way WordPress for Toastmasters tracks member data, club websites can now share member data with other clubs using the same software. This is automatic for clubs that host their sites on (a free service of the WordPress for Toastmasters project) because they share a common user/member database. In the coming weeks, I will introduce a service allowing clubs that run the software on independent websites to sync their data.

Tools for editing all this progress report data have also been updated for what you should find to be a smoother user experience. Feedback on how to improve it further is always welcome.

Adding Custom CSS Through the WordPress Customize Utility

This tip is aimed at club webmasters who already have some skill with web design or have an ambition to learn. The club websites hosted at are meant to be usable by Toastmasters without previous web technology or design skills, but I appreciate that others come to the experience knowing HTML (the language for structuring web pages) and CSS (the language for specifying fonts, font sizes, font colors, and other design parameters).

Part of the WordPress for Toastmasters solution is a theme called Lectern that, in addition to supporting a standard Toastmasters approved logo banner, specifies the fonts and general layout of the website. It has the advantage of adhering closely to WordPress standards, including the flexibility to resize pages when viewed on a mobile device.

WordPress includes a utility called the Customizer (look for the Customize link on the black bar at the top of the screen when you’re logged in as the administrator) that allows you to change basic layout parameters such as the background colors. There is also a utility that allows you to add some custom CSS that will override the defaults set in the theme.

Here is an example of a snippet of code added to change the styling of the club name, as displayed in the website banner.

Adding custom CSS

Making this work understands some understanding of how CSS works, but you can find a million tutorials on the web if this is something you want to learn. In the example above, I’m changing the font-family specification for h1 (the top level headline) within the section (div) of the page with the ID #toastmastersheader.

You can view the default CSS for the current release of Lectern here:

This entire project is open source, and I would welcome contributions from web developers and designers who would like to collaborate on improving it. Meanwhile, the Customize utility gives you a lot of freedom to tweak the appearance of a site to your own taste.


Adding a Customizable Agenda Layout

Club leaders who want a different look for their meeting agenda than provided by my suggested design can now take matters into their own hands, particularly if they know (or are willing to learn) HTML and CSS coding.

Until recently, there were two agenda layout options, “plain” and “sidebar”, with sidebar as the one I have been promoting by default. The agenda layout with sidebar gives you a sidebar on the left hand side of the page to use for information like the club mission, notes on upcoming district events, and a listing of club officers.

Now, there is a 3rd option, “custom,” on the Toastmasters settings screen in WordPress. When you select “custom,” a new document named “Agenda Layout” will be added to the listing under RSVP Events. You will also see a link on the Toastmasters settings screen labeled “Edit Custom Agenda Layout.”

When you edit this document, you will have access to the basic HTML structure of the agenda, with placeholders showing for the data that gets pulled from the database. Beneath the content editing box, you will also see a place where you can alter the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) code used to style and format the content. You will be starting with essentially the same layout as “sidebar” but can alter it however you would like.

Here is an example of a layout with a different header image:

Custom header image for agenda

and here is what the Agenda Layout document looks like in the WordPress editor:

Customized agenda layout in the editor

If you toggle the Text tab of the editor to see the underlying code, you will find I used a simple table layout to separate the sidebar content from the main agenda content (roles and who is filling them).

The bracketed codes are placeholders known as shortcodes in WordPress jargon. These pull in the database-generated content that will be used to fill in the details for a specific meeting agenda.

[tmlayout_club_name] – pulls in the club name, using the website title. You could delete this and just type in the name, since you’re customizing this specifically for your club.

[tmlayout_meeting_date] – displays the meeting date.

[tmlayout_sidebar] – displays the sidebar content

[tmlayout_main] – displays the main agenda content of roles and assignments

You can make some basic changes to the structure and organization of the agenda by for example changing the table layout or by replacing the table cells with divs and aligning those divs with CSS. It helps to have some knowledge of CSS, but you may be able to puzzle out some details by sight.

For example, this block of code —

body, p, div, td, th {
font-size: 12px;
line-height: 1.3;
font-family:"Times New Roman", Times, serif;

— defines the base font size for most of the text on the agenda. By changing 12px to 14px or 18px, you could make the font larger.

Or to change just the paragraphs within the table cell for the agenda listing, which has an id of “agenda”, you could do this:

#agenda p {
font-size: 16px;

When I first experimented with changing the page banner, it didn’t come out right because I added the image into a div with an id=”banner” that had a fixed height, and the new image was larger. I solved that issue by eliminating the div tag.

At least one person who contacted me specifically wanted to change the banner at the top of the agenda, so I hope this capability will be useful.

Whatever changes you decide to make, be prepared to experiment before you get it right. Good luck. If you come up with a design you are proud of, let me know — maybe your work can be the source for a new, improved default agenda layout for others.

If you do change the HTML structure, keep in mind that some HTML coding works better in the context of the feature that allows you to download the agenda to Microsoft Word. That is one of the reasons I used table formatting to separate the sidebar from the rest of the agenda, as opposed to divs with CSS positioning.

Note: For those hosting their own websites, both RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters must be upgraded for this feature to become available.

Theme/Words of the Day on the Agenda

Update: If you use the new agenda editor, you can accomplish what’s described below with the “Editable Note” content block.

This post was prompted by a query from someone asking how to add an editable field for a meeting theme and words of the day to the agenda.

This is one of those features in the Toastmasters software for WordPress works the way  it does because it answered a specific need for my home club that may not be exactly the way others would want it to work. Those also tend to be the relatively poorly documented features — I’m trying to do better! — and may evolve over time as I get a better understanding of what other clubs want.

But here’s how it works so far, using the example of Club Awesome.

Every week, we include a blurb about the theme and words of the day at the bottom of the printed agenda.


In the editor, that is set up with this code (showing the editor in Text mode)


The code is [rsvpmaker_upcoming themewords=”1″]. There is no popup editor for it in the WordPress Visual editor like there is for the role setup tags, but it is represented as a placeholder image in the visual editor.

On the front end of the website, you can edit the contents associated with this field at the same time that you may be assigning members to specific meeting roles.


In our club, the VP of Education usually picks the meeting theme and assigns a couple of words of the day (we have a contest for best use of one of the words). Making this field editable as part of the same process as assigning meeting roles is easier than making the change in the WordPress editor.

The “agenda notes” codes on the agenda fill a somewhat similar purpose, except we typically use them for content that stays the same from week to week. I think of these as “stage directions” — in the example above, you can see “Toastmasters of the day gives out the awards,” which is a standard part of how we close out the meeting.

The theme and words of the day, on the other hand, are different every week.

TODO: Make this component easier to customize, for example by providing a way of changing the headline to something other than “Theme/Words.” Any other requests?

Email List Integration for Your Toastmasters Club

WordPress for Toastmasters supports several options for sending email to your membership, particularly for the purpose of collaborating to fill openings on the agenda. This article specifically discusses integration with Mailman, an open source mailing list management utility often included with web hosting accounts. When you add member accounts to the website, the email addresses will automatically be added to the mailing list. Email addresses will automatically be removed from the list when user accounts are deleted.

This allows you to write to an address such as and have your message automatically sent to all club members without the need to look up their individual email addresses. I find it particularly useful for forwarding on information received from the district level, such as details about upcoming conferences, contests, or training events. Optionally, you can also establish a second email list just for officers.

Here is an example of a message sent this way, with the club name added to the subject line in brackets and a footer added to the body of the message with mailing list info.

Sample mailing list message.
Sample mailing list message.

Note: This feature is not enabled by default with the free websites I have been offering on the domain because I haven’t found a good way to automatically provision these accounts. The section of the administrator’s Toastmasters settings screen related to mailing list setup features is not even displayed on your accounts for that reason. However, I can set it up for you upon request.

If you are using the WordPress for Toastmasters software on your own hosting, check to see if your host supports Mailman. For example, if your web host uses the Cpanel utility for site management, the Cpanel mailing list function will take you to this setup page for creating a Mailman list.

Mailman list setup in Cpanel
Mailman list setup in Cpanel

After creating the list, click on the Manage link to go to the Mailman administrator’s dashboard. From here, you can further customize your list settings.

How Mailman Works

By default, any list member can send messages to the whole list. Any message received from an email address not on the list will be held for moderation. This helps prevent the list becoming a more efficient way of sending spam. However, you can designate a list of email addresses not on the list from which messages should be accepted.

You can designate multiple list administrators and list moderators with the authority to approve messages that are held for moderation.

Moderation tends to be an issue with members who have multiple email addresses, for example a personal email address, a work email address, and an address assigned by the Toastmasters district organization (for example, to an Area Director). If the list receives a message from one of those valid email addresses, you can approve it and add it to the “Accepts” list (messages from this address should be accepted in the future) at the same time.

Here is what that looks like:

Approving a message and adding the sender to the "Accepts" list (email address is checked and "Accepts" radio button selected).
Approving a message and adding the sender to the “Accepts” list (email address is checked and “Accepts” radio button selected).

Setup for Automatic Sync with Mailman

To keep the membership list consistent with the Mailman mailing list, want to record a few key settings on the Toastmasters settings screen in WordPress.

WordPress will post updates to the list almost exactly as a user would. For example, in my example of a list hosted at, the url for general options is …

… and the url for viewing the member list is …

What we’re going to record on the settings screen is the first part of that address, before the words “general” and “member”

Copying the root url for Mailman
Copying the root url for Mailman

We then record that info on the Toastmasters settings screen, along with the mailing list email address and the account password.

Mailman entries in Toastmasters settings.
Mailman entries in Toastmasters settings.

Once you have saved this information, you should be able to click on “Add current members to mailing list” to make the program sync for the first time with the email addresses of your organization’s members. Check the Members screen in Mailman to verify that it worked.

In addition to being used behind the scenes to keep the lists in sync, the account password information will be displayed to logged in members who have officers rights on the WordPress dashboard. This allows them to log in and make administrative changes manually, such as adding and removing email addresses not handled by the automated process.

Recommended Mailman Settings

You may have to experiment to find the settings that work for your club, but here are some that have worked for me.

General Settings

Add any additional list administrator / list moderator addresses. It helps to give more than one person this authority.

Prefix for subject line of postings

[Club Voice] in the example above. Defaults to the list name, so would be just [Voice] by default

Where are replies to list messages directed?

“This list” if you want replies to automatically go to everyone. Otherwise, “Sender” so replies only go to the sender (unless the recipient clicks “Reply All”)

Send monthly password reminders:


Send welcome message to newly subscribed members

No (or if Yes, be sure to customize the message)

Send mail to poster when their posting is held for approval? 


Maximum length in kilobytes (KB) of a message body. Use 0 for no limit. 


Privacy section -> Sender Filters

List of non-member addresses whose postings should be automatically accepted. 

This is where you can enter a list of alternate email addresses for members, such as a work email for someone who is on the member list under their personal email address.

Content Filtering

Should Mailman filter the content of list traffic according to the settings below?

<p”>No (unless you have trouble with inappropriate content being sent, you probably want to allow members to send file attachments and other content this might interfere with)

A Note on Security

Mailman is a separate piece of software, very established but not terribly sexy. It gets the job done. You should understand I have a limited ability to customize it. The integration method I’m using is very basic and posts the application password with each transaction. The risk of posting to a url on the same server may not be all that great, but ideally you should be posting to an encrypted version of the url (https rather than http).

Setting up encryption on your website is less complicated and expensive than it used to be, thanks to the Let’s Encrypt project to distribute free SSL digital security certificates. If your host uses Cpanel, check to see if Let’s Encrypt is enabled for your account or ask your host if it can be turned on for your account.

I actually used this feature unencrypted on the website for my home club for years and never had a problem, but your mileage may vary.

How to Fill a Toastmasters Meeting Agenda

The cycle starts with editing the agenda (based on the information you have so far), emailing it out, encouraging additional people to sign up online, printing the agenda and the signup sheet, and getting more people to sign up for future weeks during each meeting. For more accurate record keeping, you can also reconcile differences between the agenda and who actually showed up to fill roles.
The cycle starts with editing the agenda (based on the information you have so far), emailing it out, encouraging additional people to sign up online, printing the agenda and the signup sheet, and getting more people to sign up for future weeks during each meeting. For more accurate record keeping, you can also reconcile differences between the agenda and who actually showed up to fill roles.

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.

The “Edit Signups” option is in the menu at the top of the agenda.
Editing role assignments
Editing role assignments

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.

Extra Credit

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.

YouTube Video Sharing Tool for Toastmasters

See updated instructions, July 2020.

The latest update of the WordPress for Toastmasters software includes a tool for publishing speech videos to the club website, publicly or privately, and emailing out links to the videos to club members.

Using this feature is entirely optional, but it’s based on a program that has been popular with my own home club. For several years, we have made a practice of video recording speeches and sharing them with members in “unlisted” status on YouTube. This is a convenient way of sharing videos so members can see how they performed for purposes of self improvement. It also allows club members to view a speech they may have missed, such as the Icebreaker of a new member.

If they did really well, they can give us permission to share the videos publicly — and we are always happy to showcase the talent in our club. Having speech videos on the website also allows prospects members to get a better feeling for the Toastmasters experience and see our members in action, even before their first visit. See Video Tactics for Toastmasters Clubs for more details about how we record and upload the videos.


You will find the YouTube Toastmasters tool tucked under the Media menu on the WordPress dashboard.

Once you have uploaded your videos into YouTube, you will use this screen to do a sloppy copy-and-paste import of the titles and links from the YouTube website. I usually do this from the the listing of my own videos (, but it seems to work with any listing such as a a screen of YouTube search results.

You copy by holding down the mouse button and dragging it across the relevant titles and video previews as shown below.

Copy from YouTube
Copy from YouTube

Now paste into the editor window under “Paste YouTube content here” (make sure it’s in Visual mode, not Text). The pasted-in content will look jumbled, but all that matters is that you have captured the titles of the videos.

Sloppy paste
Sloppy paste

Farther down on the screen, you will see options asking whether you want to create a blog post, an email broadcast, or both. There are also a series of checkboxes next to the names of club members, which you can check to indicate who is featured in the videos. Their names will be added to the title of the blog post (also used as the preliminary subject line for the email broadcast). The resulting blog post will look something like this.

Video listing on the blog.
Video listing on the blog.

At the bottom of this post, you will see a notice that this post is members-only content. If you decide to make it public, you would edit the post to remove it from the members-only category. But these posts are marked members-only by default.

Members-only notice
Members-only notice

Anyone who tries to view this post without being logged in will see only the headline and a notice that a login is required.

Login required notice

As explained in Posting Members-Only Content to the Blog, there are a couple of sidebar widgets available to allow you to distinguish between public content (“Club News”) and members-only content. If a website visitor is not logged in, the members-only posts will not appear in the blog’s main feed.

Members-only widget
Members-only widget

You can use the same content as the basis of an email broadcast. This uses the email list features of RSVPMaker (the calendar plugin that is part of WordPress for Toastmasters). When you preview the email broadcast on the website, it will look something like this. To send the message to all club members (everyone who has a user account on the website), I would click the “Website members” checkbox and then the Send Now button.

If I see something I want to change or fix, or if I want to add a note at the top, I can click edit to revise the message using the WordPress editing tools before sending it out.

Preview of email broadcast
Preview of email broadcast

Here is that same message as it arrived in my email inbox.

Message in email inbox
Message in email inbox

To support the practice of considering these videos to be private information for club members only, I include a policy message or disclaimer at the bottom of each of these messages sharing the videos.

Video policy: speech videos are intended as a tool for speakers to see their own performances and think about how they can improve. Even though these are on YouTube, they are published as “unlisted” by default, meaning they won’t show up in search results. Don’t forward these links or post them on Facebook or in any other forum without the speaker’s permission. From time to time, we may ask a speaker for permission to use a video as part of our marketing of the club. Volunteers are also welcome – if you’re proud of a particular speech, let us know.

I’ve included some of this boilerplate language as a default, but you can modify it however you would like. If you make changes, the software will remember your settings for next time.

Note: until recently I would simply copy and paste the output from the tool into GMail and send it out to our club’s mailing list. That works, too. However, as a lazy person, I am always looking for ways to automate processes, and this saves a few steps.

Let me know if you find this useful.

New Spreadsheet Import / Export

The new WordPress for Toastmasters import/export feature allows you to download a spreadsheet of data including member contact information and a summary of achievements within your club. The file downloads in the standard CSV file format, which you can open in Excel and other data management programs.

You can then make corrections and import the data back into the website, or you can use this as a way of transferring your data to another web server (for example, if you move from my service to your own web hosting).

The import feature here is similar to the one I recommend you use to import users into a new WordPress for Toastmasters site, using the member spreadsheet from Club Central on

If you are just getting started with your new website, you might start this way:

  • Import your members using the spreadsheet.
  • Download the WordPress for Toastmasters data export. This will give you a spreadsheet that contains the member’s basic contact info and a series of blank columns in the rows representing other data, such as the number of Competent Communication speeches the member has given.
  • Update the spreadsheet, correcting data such as email addresses and phone numbers, and adding a basic set of information about how far the member has advanced in the Toastmasters program.
  • Import the spreadsheet into the website to update the member records.

This is intended as a way to “jump start” your website, after which you will start to benefit from the data gathered in the normal course of business as you organize your meetings.

Video: Planning and Tracking Time on Your Meeting Agenda

For the latest on this feature, see How to Assign Time to Each Portion of Your Agenda. The information below is outdated.

Some of the latest updates to the software make it possible to plan the time required for different activities on your agenda and set a limit on the amount of time available for speech projects.

These features are optional. The choice of including times on your printable agenda is a setting you change on the administrator’s dashboard. When you turn it on, and additional Agenda Timing option appears on the menus. The Agenda Timing screen lets you change the time allowances for the whole agenda, and see how the time allocations add up, compared to the length of your meeting.

This is all new enough that you may want to consider it “beta” or experimental. Give me your feedback if you would like to see changes in how this works.