If your club is experiencing success with Toastmost and WordPress, please consider putting in a good word for the software with your district leaders. As I say in the email below, which I’ve been sending out to district leaders, the WordPress for Toastmasters project needs to grow to be successful long term.
I’m promoting the Toastmost.org hosting service as the easiest way to get access to the software and working to make it easier to get started with. For example, if you are the administrator of a club website, you probably got a “Todo list” email recently with pointers on how to do things like set up online payments. You can help by being an advocate, organizing training in your area, helping to improve the documentation, or providing feedback on needed improvements.
Here is the pitch I hope you will share with district leaders, ideally adding a note about your experience with the software.
Subject: Digital tools for Toastmasters leaders
If you would like to offer club leaders in your district tools to market themselves, recruit members, and operate more effectively in this online / hybrid era of Toastmasters meetings, I can help. I’m the founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project, operator of the Toastmost.org website hosting service, and the founding president of Online Presenters Toastmasters.
In addition to helping with online marketing and recruiting, my WordPress-based framework for club websites includes many tools that help with meetings conducted in an online or hybrid format — or simply meeting the consumer expectation that we ought to be able to do more from a computer or a mobile phone. Here’s a quick demo, as presented at VTM CON 2021:
I’m looking for your help making club leaders aware that this option exists and why they should consider it. I am available to give workshops via Zoom or work with trainers from your district who can share the information. (You’re welcome to join the workshop I’m doing for District 62, Weds. Sept. 22 at 7 pm EDT.)
Digital Business Processes
Just like any successful business, Toastmasters clubs and districts need to learn to take advantage of digital technologies to be effective in 2021. Among other things, that means breaking free of paper-based processes that result in a lot of emailing, printing, and scanning of PDFs when we need to do business online.
WordPress for Toastmasters club websites include:
- Guest registration on the website.
- An online enrollment process where new members complete a web-based application form, which can also be approved online and is archived on the website as part of club records.
- Online payment via PayPal or Stripe for new member dues (the option is shown at the end of the application) and renewals.
- Web-based evaluation forms based on the Pathways PDFs, which can be completed online and archived as part of the member’s records.
- A suite of web-based tools for conducting contests in an online or hybrid format.
- A Vote Counter’s tool for conducting routine votes like Best Speaker or Best Evaluator.
In addition to these bells and whistles, clubs get all the flexibility that comes from working with WordPress — originally software for bloggers but now the world’s most widely used web publishing system. Site authors and editors get to learn skills they can also apply to a small business or nonprofit website. Meanwhile, the WordPress themes (designs) have been reviewed by Toastmasters International’s brand compliance team.
The Software and the Service
The software I refer to as WordPress for Toastmasters is a set of extensions to WordPress I have published as open source, meaning they can be downloaded for free and added to a WordPress website. You might want to take advantage of some of them on your district website. The open source aspect also means Toastmasters with web development or design skills can contribute their own enhancements.
Most clubs get access to the software through Toastmost.org. I have been talking to a few districts about sponsoring club websites, but otherwise there is a fee to cover the cost of web hosting. Club leaders can sign up for a six-month free trial. After that, a site costs $50 USD per year.
Like the WordPress designs, this business practice has been reviewed by Toastmasters International.
First and foremost, I’m writing to request an opportunity to present a workshop on the WordPress option to your district. What would be even better would be if some of the leaders in your district would take an active interest in advising me on improvements they would like to see in the software, or in creating documentation and training materials for it. Or perhaps there are leaders within your district who can contribute programming code or design enhancements.
To be successful long-term, the WordPress for Toastmasters project needs to grow. I’m fortunate to have a close circle of advisors who have encouraged me and provided suggestions for improvement over the past several years. I’d like to invite you into that circle as well.
David F. Carr, DTM
Coral Springs, Florida, USA