Track Planned Absences Through The Agenda

The Planned Absences block provides an easy way for members to signal that they will miss a specific meeting. Here is how that is displayed to a logged in member.

You can specify whether you will miss one meeting or several. It’s also possible to record this information on behalf of another member.

How to Add a Toastmasters Absences Block

Do one of the following:

  • Use the block inserter (+ button) to select and insert the Toastmasters Absences block
  • Begin typing /absences on a blank line, and Toastmasters Absences will appear as one of the blocks you can select to insert.

There is only one option to set: whether the absences block should appear only on the signup form (the default) or also on the agenda.

How the Absences Block Works

If you place this widget at the bottom of your signup page, members can let the club know they plan to miss the meeting in question by clicking the Planned Absence button. Planned Absences that have been recorded are listed right above the button, along with any “Away Messages.” This information is only displayed to logged in members.

Away Messages allow you to signal that you will be missing meetings for some extended period of time (weeks or months) — it’s a message with an expiration date.

Clicking the Planned Absence button works better if I know I’m going to miss, not the next meeting, but the one after that. It’s more precise.

The absence / away message information also shows up in a few other contexts, such as the drop down list you use to assign members to roles.

Absences indicated in the dropdown list for assigning roles.

Add an Agenda Note

A Toastmasters Agenda Note block presents “stage directions” for your meeting. This is information that should only appear on the agenda (not the signup form) and that is not tied to a role members sign up for on a per-meeting basis (for example, a round of self-introductions led by the presiding officer).

A WordPress for Toastmasters agenda consists of content blocks representing roles that members can sign up for (or be assigned to) and supporting notes about the organization of the meeting. See Add WordPress Blocks (Different Types of Content). Several other agenda-specific content blocks are available, including Signup Note (which only appears on the signup form, not the agenda), Editable Note, and Planned Absence.

Agenda Note blocks

To add an Agenda Note, do one of the following:

  • Use the block inserter (+ button) to select the Toastmasters Agenda Note block.
  • Begin typing /agenda or /note on a blank line. Choose Toastmasters Agenda Note from the list of available blocks to insert.

Next, enter a paragraph’s worth of content. You can use the same formatting controls for bold and italic that you would within any other paragraph.

Optionally, add the time in minutes for the activity described in your note. If you display the times on your agenda, this will be used to create a chronology of the time consumed by each Agenda Note and Agenda Role. The idea is to help you plan your meetings and keep them on schedule.

Add or Edit an Agenda Role

WordPress for Toastmasters represents roles that appear on your agenda and signup page as WordPress blocks. See Add WordPress Blocks (Different Types of Content). Several other agenda-specific content blocks are available, including Agenda Note, Editable Note, and Planned Absence.

The Toastmasters Agenda role block is displayed as a signup form on your website, when viewed by a logged in and authorized member. On the versions of the agenda that can be printed or emailed, the same block is displayed with the name of the person who has signed up for the role or with “Open” if the role has not yet been filled.

The block for speaker roles displays additional information related to specific speech projects on the signup form and the agenda views.

Adding a role to the agenda

To add a role block, do one of the following:

  • Click the add block button (the + sign) at the top of the screen or adjacent to the point in the agenda where you want the new block to appear. Select Toastmasters Agenda Role from the list (or use the search field to find it).
  • Begin typing /role and Toastmasters Agenda Role should appear as one of the items you can select.

When you insert a new role or click on the placeholder for an existing role block, the options you can set are displayed within the block as well as in the sidebar on the right hand side of the editor (if the sidebar is not visible, click the gear icon at the top right of the editor screen to display it).

Role options

The options you can set include:

  • Role: choose one of the roles from the list or “custom” for a role that is unique to your club
  • Custom Role: Enter the label if this is a custom role. Otherwise, leave blank
  • Count: If more than one should appear on the agenda, set the number here. Example: 3 speakers
  • Time Allowed: The total time allowed for those who sign up for this role. For three speakers, you would set this to 21 at a minimum (3 7-minute speeches) but might want to go to 24 or 26 to allow for some longer speeches. If too many members sign up for long speeches that would exceed this limit, a warning will be shown. 
  • Padding Time: This was intended for use in combination with speech roles. In addition to the time allowed for speakers, you can build in another minute or two for introductions and set up between speeches.
  • Agenda Note: You can enter an additional explanatory note that will be displayed on your agenda, beneath the role.

It’s possible to change the Minutes, Padding, and Count parameters on the front end of the website in Edit Signups mode. See Change the Number of Speakers and Evaluators. Change the Time Allowed for Any Role.