Monthly Archives: April 2013

How To Get Organized

Seems like a daily occurrence that a new hot software package hits the Internet with the promise to change your life forever.

And, I have been pretty good at not recommending every new shiny thing that passes by but today thanks to one of my buddies in my Amateur Radio Club I’d like to introduce you to a new software package that is perfect for Toastmasters.

It’s called Trello and it’s FREE!

So what is it? Here’s the copy from the Trello site:

Trello is a collaboration toll that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

Okay but what does it really do?

First it’s a really cool way of making a “to do” list that can sync itself over different platforms and devices. In other words it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a PC or Mac and whether you’re running a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.

I could see Toastmasters organizing their speeches using Trello. The meeting agenda could be done on Trello with every role assigned and confirmed online.

The club executive might consider organizing their executive meetings using Trello to keep notes, minutes and to do lists current.

The club secretary might even use it to keep the club minutes online and available to all members for corrections and storage.

Trello seems like a pretty neat piece of software.

How To Be A Great Leader

As a former journalist and editor I am revealing in the writings of journalists and columnists over the death of Margaret Thatcher. What is it about the death of a titan that brings out such rousing rhetoric?

Part of the attraction no doubt is to the paucity of leadership that countries (North Korea comes to mind as does Syria) suffer or the same scarcity of vision that affects our political leaders and leaders of every stripe.

Writing in The New York Times, David Brooks says of Thatcher:

She witnessed a moral shift in those years, away from people who were competitive and toward toward people who were co-operative, away from the ambitious and toward those who were self-nurturing and self-exploring, away from the culture of rectitude and toward the culture of narcissism.

And George Jonas writing in The National Post said:

She did what others pay lip service to: selected what was hard and right over what was easy and wrong.

…she stood for the proposition that small truths honestly faced, small virtues consistently and faithfully applied, small sums consistently paid and collected when due, added up to good governance.

What we do in our business session at our clubs is practice leadership skills where it is more important to do what we think is right over doing what we think will work ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s a Blog? What’s a Website?

At last night’s meeting of First Oakville Toastmasters we voted to move our club website to the Toastmaster International hosted site.

Of course the vote was preceded by a some discussion which based on what I was hearing confirmed that few of our members understand what we’ve got going for us when it comes to being online.

First we have the old club website which I’m not going to bother to link to as it will be down shortly to be replaced by the new site.

The old site was a place where potential members could discover some basic information about the club such as where and when we met and could find an email contact if they wished additional information.

Aside from some cosmetic differences, club members aren’t likely to notice any real change in functionality or information once we switch over.

The new club website will be easier to maintain and update as the club executives who run the site won’t need to have any special training or understanding of web-based languages as is the case with the old site.

The reason for this is the ย new site is just a template that’s working on top of a very simple web editor. It means most changes will be just changes in text and graphic boxes that will be simple to make by anyone with administrative privileges and the right password.

Depending on how our executive works the controls behind the curtain (sort of like the Wizard of Oz) the site can have a private member’s only section (such as our membership list) as well as public spaces (like our meeting schedule) and can have things like built-in web-based photo galleries.

The two big advantages to moving to the Toastmaster-hosted site is (a) it’s free and (b) it’s easy to manage and change.

The one downside is all the Toastmaster sites will look pretty much the same. From a marketing point of view that’s not great but convenience trumps good looks ๐Ÿ™‚

Now we also have this club blog which you’re reading now. It’s hosted on WordPress and is moderated by the club’s vice president of public relations who currently is being assisted by Toastmaster Peter West who set this blog up.

The club blog is very easy to manage and update. It allows for unlimited posts and comments by members or moderators. Photos and even videos can be published within the blog.

The blog was changed (today) to use the Toastmaster recommended template and now includes the mandatory copyright notice.

Again the unfortunate side effect of using a template is our club blog will tend to look like all other Toastmaster club blogs but by using the template we fall within the recommended Toastmaster guidelines for using Toastmaster materials on our site.

Since Internet search engines like Google are always on the lookout for “new” content the blogs and websites which are updated weekly (or better yet daily) rise in the search engine standings. So what comes up first when you search for something like “Toastmasters Oakville” will be the First Oakville’s website or blog.

The club blog also has similar advantages to the club website in that (a) it’s also free and (b) it’s very easy to manage. Information such as the club meeting schedule and contact information can be posted here in the “pages” section which is found by clicking a tab on the front page.

The club blog also has an additional advantage in that it scrolls and archives posts by the month as they are published. This ability to archive and store older posts creates a written history of club activities that are accessible online.

One site really doesn’t do everything. The website is a great spot to publish information that doesn’t change often such as membership lists and meeting schedules and agendas.

The blog site works best at publishing current information and adding new information which is stored and accessible in the background. The blog can be a much more interactive site allowing for members to post their own comments directly or offer their own posts by submitting them to the moderator.

Both sites are a tremendous resource to our members and our club.

If we keep both sites current, First Oakville Toastmasters will remain at the top of the list of hits when people search for a Toastmaster club in Oakville, Ontario.