Joining Toastmasters was a thought of mine since 2010 but I signed up only in late 2019. After a couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all the meetings were transferred online, via Zoom. We’re lucky we live in this day and age where we have the technology to be able to continue working and being in communication with our peers.
Toastmaster District 60 has a conference that takes place every ear. Since 2020 was filled with uncertainty, no conference was held. But in 2021, the conference went online, for free. And I was approached, by the recommendation of my club’s VP of education, to help with building a Welcome Page. I even had a title in the conference committee, Web Page Chair. I was honoured to be able to stand along with such great professionals, distinguished Toastmasters, and wonderful people.
I guess you can call me lucky if by luck you mean working hard and saying yes to things most people say no to, even if you’re already busy.
Toastmasters is an international organization with millions of members worldwide and it’s divided into districts, areas and clubs.
District 60 has a WordPress website that has a lot of plugins and legacy content that I didn’t have the luxury of time to familiarize myself with. I also didn’t have access to the backend (either WP or the hosting) and since everyone else had many other things to do, I decided I should offer more than what’s expected from me (talking about going above and beyond). So I decided to build a totally new WordPress website exclusively for the 2021 Toastmasters District 60 Virtual Conference. (As you can see, the conference was a success, as it was sold out.)
Along with the Toastmasters D60’s webmaster (which I got to know closely, developed a friendship and had long conversations outside of the scope of work), we installed a fresh version of WordPress on a subfolder newly created. We decided to do this in order for me to have complete control over the conference website without having accessed the main website.
Initially, there was a section on the main site and we were supposed to be building sub-pages for all the information. Because of legacy and plugin conflicts I wanted to avoid, a subfolder was the best and fastest way to get something nice up and running.
The first draft of the website was hosted on a subdomain for a website that I have and until it got approved, we decided to work there. The conference website is supposed to be having around 7 pages, including an agenda, a page for the workshops, a page for the keynote speakers, the parade of clubs, one for business meetings, and a page for the speakers’ contest.
I used the DIVI builder because my team is familiar with it, and also because it was the only builder that I haven’t used in the past in any project. I love Elementor, I have done some projects with Beaver Builder, and worked mostly with WP Bakery.
Divi is quite versatile and fast, contrary to what I have heard other people complaining about. When I hear about something, I need to test it out myself. Divi passed the test (I also used it for my website).
I included all the important information on the website’s homepage, with links to the pages for more details. The header had only 3 slides, the keynote speakers and some more details about the virtual conference. Keep it simple, clean and intuitive.
We also used a short link service to send out this to the subscribers. It’s easier to remember, and if anything should go wrong (having so many people land on your website can break it – I had experienced that in the past, 10 years ago – Yes, success can create trouble) we would easily replace the landing page for that short link URL. We also used a short link service to send out this to the subscribers. It’s easier to remember, and if anything should go wrong (having so many people land on your website can break it – I had experienced that in the past, 10 years ago – Yes, success can create trouble) we would easily replace the landing page for that short link URL. I still have the staging website as a backup and I also created a Google Doc with all the links. Google Docs has the option to publish your document to the web, and it’s essentially like a webpage (it’s not the same link as you’re sending someone to edit it). I shared editing access to some people from our team so basically if something would go wrong (update a zoom link, correcting a typo, a time, etc) anyone could go in and make the edit, in case I wasn’t available. Because it was time-sensitive. (This wasn’t the case, as everything went surprisingly smooth). We also created a similar page, for the events that were live-streamed. I embedded a Vimeo video where some of the events for the conference were live-streamed and that page was pushed live, shared on Facebook and other social media channels, because it was an opportunity for everyone who didn’t sign up, to see some events from the conference. The conference was a success. As many still don’t know, there’s a lot of work and a lot of time to put together a conference like this one. I only did the website, but there are professionals who helped with streaming, writing content, and promoting, creating videos and slideshows and ensuring each participant had the attention they needed. And it’s not easy, dealing with 500 participants. This is a benchmark and an example of effective project management and I feel blessed and honoured to be part of the team that organized this event. ty to be around people with years of experience at the highest management and organizational level and see from the inside how organizing such an event is done. I would have paid money to be part of it. I want to thank everyone and I believe this is just the first project out of many. Besides the technical aspects of this post, I highly recommend everyone to join Toastmasters. Most people I have talked to have been delaying it for years (as did I) and for no particular reason. Take advantage of the fact that most of the meetings are only one hour long and apart from your club you can also virtually visit any club around the world. >