Why I chose Trello: I was a newly elected Los Gatos Toastmasters (LGTM) club president when I walked into a club meeting room only to find a note from our always reliable sergeant-at-arms announcing his departure from the club. Not long after this pivotal moment, I realized it was a perfect opportunity for our club to try something new. We could finally replace the paper guest sign-in form in favor of a tablet and google form. So much nicer to be able to have multiple officers access information on the web. Yes! …. This was just the start of modernizing our Toastmasters club.
Next up was finding a new way of signing up for roles. Outside of Toastmasters, in my work as a Product Manager, I have come across many time-saving web-based tools for team collaboration and project management, including Slack, Asana, Podio, and Jira. I wanted something similar for our Toastmasters club. Considering that we are a non-profit club and we wanted something free or close-to-free, we also wanted a tool that was simple to use, visually pleasing, and mobile-friendly. Trello ticked all these checkboxes and more: it was free for unlimited members (only charging for “power-up” integrations with other sites) and allowed us to easily sign up for meeting roles on the web or on their mobile app. We could even upload photos from our club meetings, making it really fun to use!
Trello for Toastmasters Club Meetings offers these key features:
- Visually simple user interface for members
- An easy way to attach files, photos, or videos
- Great mobile app
- Automatic reminders via mobile or email
How to Sign-up for Trello
To get started, simply sign up online or by downloading the Trello mobile app. When you do create your profile, please use a tight close-up photo of yourself so that people can easily see who took a role, even when looking at a small mobile phone. Don’t be shy! Often, I suggest people use their LinkedIn profile pic, assuming it is professional and clear, perfect for Toastmasters use. In addition, new members should choose a profile name that includes your first name, which helps people when they search for you in the system. E.g., “Eddie1234”
Once you’ve signed up, you can copy over the template I created for meetings on the Trello public site.
Now for a little housekeeping. Trello is arranged in boards, lists, and cards. Think of cards as “sticky notes” that you can move around (often arranged in To-Do lists or Kanban boards). You will find it very visually satisfying to do so! Here is a breakdown of how LGTM mapped our Toastmaster club meetings in Trello:
|Trello Fundamental Component||Trello for Toastmaster Club Meetings|
|Board||Your Club Meetings|
|Lists||Your Meeting Dates|
|Cards||Your Toastmaster Role During the Meeting|
Organize your Meetings
Now that you have copied our board template, it is time to set up your meetings. Do this by selecting the “…” dropdown list on the very last column “Meeting List Template”. There, you will see “Copy List,” which will let you create a new meeting with the date you like.
At this point, it is recommended to click on each card and set the date and time of the meeting. This will be useful for automatic notifications: when a member chooses a role such as the evaluator #1, they will get a notification on their mobile phone or via email, depending on how they set their individual notification settings.
You’ll notice that we have provided up to 4 speaker roles. If you have less during your meetings, just delete the speaker and corresponding evaluator cards that you don’t need from the template list. E.g., delete “Speaker #4” and “Evaluator #4” cards.
At the very bottom of the list template is the “Meeting Minutes” role card. Your club secretary or designee can use this to make any pertinent notes during the club meetings.
Time to Take on a Role!
Ok, you’ve got a feel for the layout of things, now; how do you sign up for a role? Easy. Just add yourself as a “Member” to the role card you want to take. Want to be the Toastmaster for the meeting? Just select yourself as a member of that card. That’s it! Now you’ve signed up for a role.
For club members, the minimum they need to do is log on and choose a role. Members selecting a speaker card should also click a label on the speaker card to classify it as a particular Pathway level. Check out the “Wiki” list for some cards that will help explain Trello, Evaluations, Pathways, and more.
New to Toastmasters? Learn About Your Role.
You’ll find in the description of each role card is helpful instruction from Toastmasters international on how to perform your role. In the attachments, you’ll find a link to more resources. For example, the timer card has a cool web-based Toastmaster timer card with pre-programmed timings and colors for typical roles like speeches, evaluations, and table topics.
Before, during, or after the meeting, you can attach files such as evaluation forms, speech slides, or other useful Toastmasters resources and notes. Just scroll down and select “Attachments” on the Trello card.
If you’d like to tell your evaluator what they should focus on during your speech, just go into your speech card’s “Activity” and write a comment and @ them like you would on Facebook or Twitter. When you start typing their name after the @ symbol, you will see their name and photo. When you make a comment @ them, they will get a notification alert via mobile app or email, depending on their settings. At LGTM club, we found that commenting on the appropriate role card automatically gives you the context: you know immediately what role and meeting everyone is talking about.
Bring in the Rest of the Club
Usually, our VP of membership “invites” new members to Trello as part of the club’s onboarding process. Onboarding is relatively straightforward since members just need to sign up and choose a role.
At LGMT club, the reaction to these online tools and workflows has been amazing. Trello makes it fun and easy for club members to participate in Toastmasters meetings while building skills in new web-based collaboration tools. So, I’m thankful that I had the setback as club president to start us down the road of modernizing our Toastmaster meetings. Hopefully, you will also enjoy empowering your own clubs with Trello.
Written by: Eddie McMorrow of Los Gatos Toastmasters Club