How to Blog for Toastmasters (also, Where and Why) – Video Replay, Notes and Links

In this demonstration speech at Online Presenters, I encourage members of Online Presenters to take advantage of the fact that our website has a blog built into it — just waiting to help them with the Create a Compelling Blog project in Pathways.

I am David F. Carr, DTM, the original organizer, charter year President and current treasurer of Online Presenters. I’m also the founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters open source software project. As this year’s webmaster for District 47, I am also encouraging district leaders to blog about the district and all the great people and clubs within it. And I would love to see more of the clubs who have adopted WordPress taking full advantage of blogging as a way of celebrating the talent within their clubs.

David F. Carr, DTM, founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project.

In the video, I show how to work as a contributor to a WordPress-powered blog run by your club or district. I also show a little about how to post blog articles on LinkedIn, which is a great outlet for sharing your professional interests outside of Toastmasters (and also a pretty good place to be talking up Toastmasters). I briefly discuss other options, such as the WordPress.com service where you can sign up for a free personal blog (and perhaps upgrade to a paid plan later if that makes sense for you).

Here are a few relevant blog posts about how to use blogs, websites and social media more effectively.

These two are for the webmaster wanting to know how to set up members as contributors, authors and administrators.

Also check out the Pathways blogging journey of Carole McCulloch, a friend of the club who was one of the club coaches for Online Presenters when we originally chartered. She explains more about the Create a Compelling Blog project and how to tackle it.

One More Blogging Tip

Blog Categories

One detail not covered in the blog is how to categorize blog posts. There is a Categories panel on the editor sidebar (under Document). Click the down arrow to reveal a list of checkboxes. Here is an example from the Online Presenters blog:

The categories you select will appear as links at the bottom of your post, and readers can click on to see other items that fall into the same category — for example, other posts containing Online Meeting Tips. Categories help make your blog better organized.

Members Only is a special category for posts that should only be displayed to logged in members. You might want to use that for meeting minutes, for example.

Notes for Webmasters

Home Page and Sidebar Widgets

The webmaster or other user with administrator rights can use the WordPress Customizer tool to add to customize the appearance of the website, including home page options, menus, and widgets that appear on the sidebar of the page.

  • Blog listing widgets:
    • Recent Posts — all the most recent posts
    • Categories — click to see all posts in the selected category
    • Club News – a Recent Posts listing that excludes “Members Only” posts.
    • Members Only – a listing of posts in the Members Only category.
  • Home Page Settings
    • Your latest posts – If you create a WordPress website outside of toastmost.org, this will be the default. Appropriate for websites that are primarily blogs or have active blogs.
    • A static page – I recommend club and business websites greet visitors with a welcome page and designate a separate page where blog listings will be displayed. Toastmost.org sites are preconfigured with this option, but you can change it if you prefer to have your blog out front.

Create Your Own WordPress Website / Blog

There are multiple ways of creating a WordPress website:

  • Create a free account at WordPress.com — good for personal blogs but does not support the WordPress for Toastmasters software for agenda management, etc.
  • Create an an account at Toastmost.org, which is part of the WordPress for Toastmasters project. Specifically for club blogs, with TI branding built into the site theme / templates and agenda management functions. Free for the first year, then $30 per year.
  • Create an independent website on any web hosting service that supports WordPress. Many affordable options exist. Allows you to use your own web domain and gives you more control, for example over what plugins to install. Preferred option for business websites. For club websites, you can install two plugins (RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters) plus the Lectern theme to duplicate the functionality of a toastmost.org site. The Lectern theme can also be used on district websites.

P.S.

While I talk a lot about the club and agenda management features of WordPress and am proud of the software, the best reason to choose WordPress for Toastmasters is the underlying WordPress blogging and web publishing system. I am always disappointed when I see a club has set up a website using the software but isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to post timely and interesting information.

If you have a WordPress website for your club but haven’t changed the home page or added to the blog in many months, you are missing out on 90% of the value of this option. Make sure you’re showing off what makes your club special!

Video for Speakers and Presenters: Replay from a Workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing Video

This is a replay of the Online Presenters workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing video from February 4, 2019. The version below has been slightly edited (the full meeting replay, including Table Topics impromptu speaking practice, is here).

Below are some additional notes from Workshop Presenter David F. Carr.

Continue reading “Video for Speakers and Presenters: Replay from a Workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing Video”

Videos: Replay – Online Presenters Toastmasters Aug. 8, 2018

Replay – Online Presenters Toastmasters Aug. 8, 2018

Video policy: speech videos are intended as a tool for speakers to see their own performances and think about how they can improve. Even though these are on YouTube, they are published as “unlisted” by default, meaning they won’t show up in search results. Don’t forward these links or post them on Facebook or in any other forum without the speaker’s permission. From time to time, we may ask a speaker for permission to use a video as part of our marketing of the club. Volunteers are also welcome – if you’re proud of a particular speech, let us know.

Replay: “How to Connect with ANY Audience,” with Sheryl Roush, DTM, Past District Governor, Accredited Speaker

In this video replay of an Online Presenters workshop, Sheryl Roush guides us through the process of connecting with any audience (online or off) by understanding the different communication styles of audience members.

Here is the worksheet Sheryl provided as part of the workshop: Handout – Sheryl Roush (PDF)

Replay: Workshop on Setting Up a Studio for Live Video

Jim Guld and Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour shared the basics of light, video, and sound you need to understand to do professional live video. They host a weekly YouTube Live show on technology for travelers as a service to attendees at their in-person seminars and members of their subscription website. They have recently added a second weekly show on Facebook Live.

Because they do these broadcasts on the road, from a traveling studio in their camper van, as well as from their home office, they offer a unique perspective on how to achieve a professional setup in any circumstance.

Sign up for our next educational workshop at op.toastmost.org/workshops/

Replay: What Toastmasters Should Know About Facebook Live

This is the replay of a Facebook Live broadcast with tips for speakers and Toastmasters leaders about how to use the Facebook platform. You may want to fast forward to about 3:40 when the program really begins (or look at how I try to stall for time in those first few minutes while I’m finishing the preparations I couldn’t get done until the broadcast started streaming).

To see it in context with all the comments, go to
https://www.facebook.com/ToastmastersOnlinePresenters/videos/1506183959488579/

Facebook Live: Screen Sharing and Scene Switching with OBS Studio

Facebook Live is a very powerful tool for democratizing access to online video broadcasting, but until recently I thought of it as something you could only do from your phone. I knew some professional broadcasters had put on more elaborate productions, but I didn’t realize those techniques were within easy reach thanks to free open source software.

I first used screen sharing used by a mere mortal in a Facebook Live session while attending one of John Haydon’s weekly broadcasts and studying his technique. (See Replay: Workshop on Facebook Live with John Haydon, author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies).

He pointed me to a Social Media Examiner tutorial on connecting the OBS Studio software to the Facebook Live service. That article does a great job of explaining all the detailed settings you need to get right for OBS and Facebook Live to work together. What I’m sharing below are the things I needed to figure out for myself as I considered how I would put these tools to work. In particular, the Social Media Examiner tutorial gives a passing mention to the ability to define different combinations of auto, video, and images as “scenes” in the OBS software and switch between them during the program.

That is what I explore in detail in this first video clip.

Going Live

To stream from OBS Studio to Facebook Live, you first obtain an API key code from Facebook and enter it into OBS.

Connecting Facebook Live to Streaming Software

Here is what that process looks like:

Important: If you will be looking at the audience view of your broadcast (as shown here) on another tab of your laptop, or on another device such as an iPad, be sure to mute the speakers (otherwise you’ll get a really horrible echo).

Another way of getting the link to your program is to schedule it in advance. Here’s how.

See also this tutorial document from Facebook.

Welcome to the Show

Finally, here is an example of the output that would result from the tutorial shown above.

 

Replay: Workshop on Facebook Live with John Haydon, author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies

John Haydon’s online audience likes him

John Haydon visited Online Presenters to show how he and his clients have used Facebook Live successfully to engage with customers, prospects, supporters, and donors. Haydon is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies and an authority on social media marketing strategies for nonprofits.

He does a weekly Hump Day Coffee Break broadcast every Wednesday at 11 am U.S. Eastern Time from his Facebook business page www.facebook.com/JohnHaydon.Marketing/

Ironically, given that most of his Hump Day shows are just him talking to the camera (his iPhone mounted on a tripod), you won’t see his face in this recording because he was unable to get his laptop webcam working with our online meetings software. I’ve also shared an example of one of his programs, where the topic was also Facebook Live, below.

Follow up items from the workshop:

Here is a great example of a typical Hump Day show, one in which Haydon is discussing Facebook Live ideas for nonprofits participating in the November 28 #GivingTuesday online event.

In addition to the selfie video style of presentation, I have also seen him do a Facebook Live show from his laptop, including screen sharing. That is possible to do with Facebook Live, although it requires additional software. He uses OBS Studio, a free open source product (see this how-to article). If you need to demo software, that can make sense. However, if you really want to make an emotional connection with your audience, talking directly to the camera may be best.

I’ve done some experiments of my own using OBS Studio and Facebook Live, in search of ways to blend the best of both modes by switching between screen sharing and face-on-camera modes. See my tutorial.

In our workshop, Haydon shared a number of other styles of Facebook Live use, including real estate walkthroughs and broadcasting feeding time for puppies from the animal shelter, that he has seen used effectively.

I believe this is a powerful tool for doing online presentations that Toastmasters ought to learn to use effectively.