How to Use the Vote Counter’s Tool

The Vote Counter’s Tool assists with counting votes at regular weekly meetings. It’s a simpler version of the digital ballot for contests. The idea is that you share a link in the meeting chat for Zoom or your meeting platform of choice, which members click on to cast their votes on a ballot that looks like this.

Voting for Speaker

If you are the vote counter, you set this up by logging in and choosing “Vote Counter’s Tool” from the Agenda menu for the meeting.

Menu option

If you were signed up on the agenda as the vote counter, the system will recognize you. If no one had signed up, or the person who did is not present, you may need to click the button that says “Make Yourself Vote Counter.”

Once you have claimed the role, you will see a series of ballot setup forms for Speaker, Evaluator, Table Topics Speaker, and custom ballots you can create.

For Speaker and Evaluator, the names of the members who signed up in advance will already be on the form for you to confirm.

Checkboxes for members signed up in advance

You can also type in names, and an autocomplete effect will match the first few letters you type against the membership list. This helps you put in the names, spelled correctly.

Autocomplete

Once you have set up the ballots, you will be presented with the option to share links to ballots for each contest, and then to start checking for votes.

The fields containing the links are set up so that content will automatically be copied to your computer clipboard when you click on the link. You would then paste it into the chat for Zoom or your meeting platform of choice.

Click to copy

As votes start rolling in, the screen will update every 30 seconds with results. You can also click the Check now link to reload the page and show the current results.

The results screen shows the apparent winner in each contest, followed by the ranking. You will also see if there is a tie.

Watching the votes roll in (sped up slightly)

Adding Votes Manually

In a hybrid meeting where some people are in the room with you, you may receive some votes by paper ballot that you need to add to the total. Or perhaps some members send their votes by private chat or text.

The Add votes link at the top of the screen …

… will take you to a form at the bottom of the screen where you can add votes to the tally.

Adding votes manually

Switching Vote Counter Duties to Another Member

In a situation where you need to leave early, or the person who signed up as vote counter arrives late, you can hand off vote counter duties to another member. That option is at the very bottom of the Vote Counter’s Tool screen.

Video Demo: Agenda Time Planner and Agenda Editing

This is a demo of the new Agenda Time Planner tool (basics covered in the first 7 minutes of the video below). The Agenda Time Planner makes it easier to make routine adjustments, for example to change the number of speakers or time allowed for a speeches. It allows meeting leaders who may not have website admin or editing rights to alter the timeline for a meeting, for example when a member wants to give a longer speech or a visiting district officer has asked for time on the agenda.

The second part of the demo covers the fundamentals of how to edit WordPress content in general and a Toastmasters agenda content in general. Club leaders can create more flexibility for themselves and others with how they structure the underlying agenda document.

Print the Signup Sheet

Signup Sheet is one of the options you will see on the menu at the top of every signup form. Click there to generate a printable signup sheet reflecting the open roles for future meetings.

Signup Sheet option

This can be used in combination with Edit Signups (Multiple Weeks) to record the paper sheet signups to the online system.

A website administrator can change the number of future meetings to be shown on the signup sheet on the Settings -> Toastmasters screen of the WordPress dashboard.

Edit Signups for Multiple Meetings

Instead of assigning roles for one meeting at a time, a club organizer such as the VP of Education can plug in assignments for multiple meetings at a time using the Edit Signups (Multiple Weeks) option under Signup Sheet. After passing the printable signup sheet around at a meeting, you can plug in the role choices using this tool.

Edit Signups (Multiple Weeks)

In addition, the multi-week editor makes it easy to see who has not taken a role and might be available to fill an opening.

For a video demo, see the blog post: A Faster Way to Fill a Toastmasters Meeting Agenda

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.

Edit Signups

The menu at the top of each agenda includes an Edit Signups menu. Click on the link at the top, Edit Signups, to enter Edit Signups mode. (If you do not see that option when logged in, it may not be enabled for your account.)

Switching to Edit Signups mode

In this mode, you can assign roles to members other than yourself or edit speech project details on behalf of another member.

Assigning a role to another member

The dropdown list for other members of the club includes information about when each member last filled that role (according to past agendas) and whether the member has indicated they will be absent.

Alternatively, you may type in the name of a Guest, a nonmember who will be filling a role.

Edit Signups mode also allows you to change the role count and time reserved on the agenda and to change the content of any Toastmasters Editable Note blocks (such as often used to record a meeting theme or word of the day). If a Toastmasters Absences block has been included on the agenda, Edit Signups allows you to record planned absences on behalf of other members.

Changes to role assignments are recorded automatically, but some other details such as speech project details and the content of Editable Note fields may not be.

After making all your edits, scroll down to the very bottom of the form and click Save Changes. The page will refresh, reflecting your changes.

Editing a Single Role Assignment

You can also edit a single role by clicking the Edit link that appears below it.

Edit signups link
Edit Signups link for an individual role

Click Edit to reveal an editor form you can use to change the member assigned to that role or, in the case of a speaking role, the details associated with that speech project.

Editing an individual role

When done, click Submit, and you should see a message confirming that your changes have been recorded.

Edit Signups Versus Editing an Agenda Document or Template

Edit Signups can be enabled for members who do not have the authority to edit the underlying event documents, which define the basic structure and organization of a meeting. (See: Agenda Organization).

Typically, a club defines an event template for the typical structure of its meetings, and each meeting is a separate event based on that model. These event documents specify the order and number of roles, but this data is generic. The specific information about which members will fill which roles at each meeting comes from members signing up and meeting organizers editing the agenda, using the process described above.

Change the Number of Speakers and Evaluators. Change the Time Allowed for Any Role

A meeting organizer viewing the agenda in Edit Signups mode can change the number of assignment participants allowed for any role and also the time allowed for that role.

A common example is changing the number of Speakers allowed for a meeting, which means the number of evaluators should also change. This may be because one member is giving a longer speech (say, up to 15 minutes, rather than 7) or to make room for a guest speaker or other special event.

Tweak Timing function

When you check the Tweak Timing checkbox, these options will appear:

  • Minutes: The basic time allowed
  • Padding: Extra time allowed after each member completes their role in this block (optional)
  • Count: The number of participants

Example: A club that routinely has 3 speakers at each meeting would want to allow at least 21 minutes (3 x 7) and probably a little more to allow room for the occasional 8 or 10 minute speech. So Minutes might be 24. Setting Padding to 1 minute provides some slack for the transitions between speakers. Count is 3. For evaluators, we use Minutes: 9, Padding: 0, Count: 3. Typically, for all the other roles, Count: 1.

When you change the number of Speakers — for example, from 3 to 2 — a checkbox appears asking if you want to change the number of Evaluators as well.

Click Save to record your changes. The page will reload, and the elapsed time estimates in the margin will be updated. Make further adjustments as needed until you are confident that you can fit everything in and still have your meeting end on time.

This technique is an alternative to editing the underlying meeting document or template, which requires user account privileges the meeting organizer may not possess.

Sign Up for a Role

Assuming your club allows members to sign up for roles (rather than relying on a club officer to assign them), logging into the club website will allow you to sign up for any open role.

For most roles, volunteering is as simple as clicking the Take Role button.

When you are signing up to speak, you are also asked to enter details about your speech project, including its title and an introduction.

When you select a Pathways path or a Toastmasters manual, listing of projects that you can choose from changes. When you pick a specific project, the speech timing is inserted automatically. The time can also be edited manually (for example, if you are requesting more than the standard time for your speech).

Signing up for a Speaker role

After signing up for a role, you can return to this page and withdraw yourself from the agenda by clicking Remove Me. In the case of a speech project, you have the option of editing the speech project details and clicking Update to record your changes.