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SPEECH: Make the requested speech queue clearer to all

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gkamat



Joined Date: 2010-08-23, 23:58
Posts: 17

Post Post subject SPEECH: Make the requested speech queue clearer to all   Posted 08 Jun 11, 02:10    Reply with quote

I understand that easy-Speak requires the VPE or meeting manager to manually assign speeches to speaking slots after a member has entered a speech request.
This behaviour is appropriate for many clubs, but not all.

In our case, we are an internal club, not open to the general public, and are run rather informally. Our members find it more intuitive to find an open speaking slot,
sign up and get instant feedback that they had reserved that slot. This capability was available in our previous scheduler (which had other shortcomings,, though) and
is sorely missed.

Of course, the VPE could step in and reassign speeches when the situation demanded it, but such cases were rather infrequent. This style of operation worked well for us.

Therefore, I suggest that it would be nice to have an option on the "Request Speech" screen to automatically complete the assignment step when the requested speaking slot
is free. Otherwise, the speech would get placed in the queue, as usual.

Please consider adding this feature. It will make easy-Speak more powerful and many other clubs will find it useful too.

Thank you,
Govind Kamat
VPE/Yahoo! Yapsters


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tomm



easy-Speak tester

Joined Date: 2010-12-05, 00:49
Posts: 65
Location: Aurora, CO

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 08 Jun 11, 17:21    Reply with quote

Thanks for mentioning this.
I hope that Easy-Speak adds the capability to directly assign speeches, because it would make things so much easier.

But like you, I agree that the queue of speeches is appropriate for some clubs, just not ours. Smile

It's nice to see that others are thinking the same thing.


Tom Marrs
VPE
Simply Speaking Toastmasters

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KaiS



Developer

Joined Date: 2008-09-06, 21:21
Posts: 83
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 08 Jun 11, 17:42    Reply with quote

Tom & Govind,
I totally see your point, since I've gone through exactly the same learning excercise! Oh, what memories ;)

Now, 2 years later, I can full-heartedly recommend to use this as an opportunity for each VPE to review how the club scheduling currently has worked versus how it should.

Here is why: NO member would ever think about all other members before scheduling his/her own speech. They simply see if there's availability at a given date and book their own slot.

The VPE on the other hand would look at the full member list, ideally ordered so that he/she sees those members ON TOP that have not presented a prepared speech FOR THE LONGEST time. These are the prime candidates to approach, ideally directly, face to face or via phone. (emails success rates for this task are beyond poor).

It's also the VPE that should look to find a good balance between speeches from the CC manual and advanced speakers. NB: Clubs that reach for 9 or 10 DCP goals should regularly schedule an advanced speech.

It's the VPE that is 100% responsible for this balance of icebreakers versus experienced speakers as well as balancing shy / passive versus pro-active members. If you don't believe me, please review the VPE manual ( http://www.toastmasters.org/WhenVPE.aspx ).

Having said all that, I believe that the recent Easy-Speak changes for Members to get immediate feedback about available speaker slots ("meeting full") etc. goes a long way to provide the kind of self-service that you guys are asking for. Easy-Speak just makes sure the critical VPE role has a chance to actually pull its weight. Give it a try !!! Use your authority! Reject a speech request and ask for an Educational instead, etc. That's what real VPEs do.

Some said to me once: Those VPEs that simply sit back and wait for members to self-assign their speeches are really old fashioned. You don't want to be old fashioned, do you? ;)

greetings from Spain,
Kai Steinbach, ex-VPE of Barcelona Toastmasters

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tomm



easy-Speak tester

Joined Date: 2010-12-05, 00:49
Posts: 65
Location: Aurora, CO

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 08 Jun 11, 17:59    Reply with quote

Kai,
I understand where you're coming from, but I don't see that what I'm asking for as being old-fashioned.
Nor do I see this as "sitting back ..." And yes, I do proactively look at who's been speaking, who hasn't, and I do reach out to them.

But I'm also looking for something simple that doesn't require a lot of explanation.
If I keep having to re-explain things, it says that this particular piece of functionality is not intuitive and is not easy to to use.
I love Easy-Speak except for scheduling speeches - this is painful and people in my club are frustrated.

I guess I don't understand the queue of speeches idea, nor does anyone else in my club or district.
Why should speeches be any different than any other role? It should be the same thing - first come, first served.
Just like any other role.

I want something simple.

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KaiS



Developer

Joined Date: 2008-09-06, 21:21
Posts: 83
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 10:10    Reply with quote

Quote:
But I'm also looking for something simple that doesn't require a lot of explanation.


Yeah, Easy-Speak can do that to. I recommend a single pen and 2 print-outs. These 3 items together don't require a lot of explanation.

Here is what the VPE needs to do:
1. create meeting events at least 4 meetings in advance
2. apply a template to each
3. print the SIGN UP SHEET https://easy-speak.org/signup.php?pr=1
4. print the Communications Chart sorted by Last Spoke

(Make sue 3 and 4 fit nicely on the page -> both Firefox and IE allow zooming ("scale") in the Print Preview. Very popular clubs will have the chart across 2 pages...)

And now the most important step:
5. Sit down with your members before or after the next meeting. Capture their speech requests on the sheet of paper.

Later, back home:
6. quickly schedule them in, without requiring them to click anything. Set them to Confirmed.

Let me know if this still requires a lot of explanation. "The VPE schedules speeches." should be all the explanation it needs. ;)

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karen



easySpeak guru

Joined Date: 2007-07-11, 09:54
Posts: 805

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 12:40    Reply with quote

@tomm
Glad to get to know you and your Club more by reading your post, referring to your presence in the easy-Speak system and your breath-taking website with such a gorgeous lake. I am also very impressed with your Club's success of achieving **9** DCP goals with reference to TI's May 2011 - Updated June 02, 2011 Report when your membership stands at 35. Congratulations! My Club definitely needs to learn from you in this area.

Understand that your Club has just started to use easy-Speak as from Dec 2010 while my Club had already accumulated 4 years of experience (since 2007-2008) and is the pioneer in Hong Kong and even Asia. May I share with you my Club experience in this aspect.

First, let's review the supply and demand situation based on your Club's membership at **35**:

If on average a member is interested to give 1 speech every 2 months or 3 speeches per 6 months, you need .....
35 X 3 = 105 speaking slots

You have weekly meetings and I noticed that you normally had 3 speeches a night depending on the programme whether you have workshop or Advanced speeches, there will be ......

6 months X 4 meetings X 3 speeches a night = 72 speaking slots available

Demand Vs Supply
    105 Vs 72
If VPE can't exercise his discretion on speech assignment, the Club might be in trouble.

Believe that as your Club is so successful, you'll attract more and more members and the supply and demand situation might be aggravated.

Second, every Club has its learning curve but there might be something in common.

In the very beginning, we still used Sign-up sheet https://easy-speak.org/signup.php?pr=1
and our new VPE (a member who had newly joined the Club for six months) simply followed the usual practice and encouraged the members to sign-up via emails or circulated the Sign-up sheet during the meetings.

Once she had the sheet, she inputted it into the ES system while at the same time she just kept using our traditional sign-up method. Frankly speaking, no one in the Club including an experienced excom in VPE like me had supported her to use the system in the first 9 months.

All she wanted was to keep a proper record of the meetings and that's it. She kept exploring the system and with the support of Malcolm, she persisted and in 2-3 years' time, I am happy to tell you that easy-Speak became our "must" tool and 70-80% of members kept using it for indicating "yes" or "no" to attendance, choosing their favourite roles and accepting the roles assigned by VPE.

For "booking a speech", I think you might be taken by surprise that up till now, 90% is still done by the VPE. We still need to encourage our members to plan ahead and make more speeches.

As my Club membership is growing strongly with 24 new members in 2010-2011, the situation is changing. I noticed that more members have planned ahead and booked their speeches in advance indicating their 1st, 2nd and 3rd preference on delivery dates in order to avoid the disappointment of being unable to give a speech on their preferred date.

Anyway food for thought.

Thanks and cheers,
Karen Chow
Victoria Toastmasters Club, Hong Kong
Since 1958

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tomm



easy-Speak tester

Joined Date: 2010-12-05, 00:49
Posts: 65
Location: Aurora, CO

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 18:41    Reply with quote

Kai,
If I have to go back to a sign up sheet then that defeats the whole purpose of Easy-Speak.
I don't get it. To me, proactive members sign up for speeches and roles.

But the VPE looks at someone's progress, how long it's been since they last spoke, and encourages them to sign up for speeches.

But I see speeches just like any other role, and members should be just be able to sign up directly for that speaking role.

You'll never convince me otherwise.

And like Karen pointed out, we met our 9 DCP goals back in January, so we're doing something right. Smile

Tom

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KaiS



Developer

Joined Date: 2008-09-06, 21:21
Posts: 83
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 21:18    Reply with quote

Oh, Tom, I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like my suggestion.
You say it "defeats the whole purpose of Easy-Speak".
-> How would YOU formulate the purpose of Easy-Speak then???

Quote:
To me, proactive members sign up for speeches and roles.

It does not say anything like that in the VPE's manual. Have a look at page 8, it's not much too read, just half a page. :)

Congratulations on your 9 DCP goals. Will you reach 10?

cheers, Kai

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bdaniel



Contributor

Joined Date: 2007-07-20, 16:59
Posts: 461
Location: Givat Ze'ev, Israel

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 21:58    Reply with quote

I think we're getting a bit far afield, here.

The purpose of Easy-Speak is to automate as much as possible of the administrative tasks, making the running of a TM club easier for everyone involved, but especially the VP Ed.

Different clubs approach this in different ways. Some prefer to hide as much complexity as possible from the members -- others have proactive members who are interested in taking things on for themselves.

Personally, I'm somewhat of a control freak, but restrictions on my own time means I'm more than happy when club members do things for themselves.

Getting back to my point, though -- there's nothing wrong with a club allowing members to sign up for specific speech slots themselves, as long as the VP Ed has final say. So the question here isn't whether or not it's right or appropriate to allow this sort of thing, but whether this is something that Malcolm and Paul feel able to take up, and if so, when they would be able to do this.

_________________
Thanks,
Daniel
Jerusalem Toastmasters, VP Education
Modi'in Toastmasters

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tomm



easy-Speak tester

Joined Date: 2010-12-05, 00:49
Posts: 65
Location: Aurora, CO

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 09 Jun 11, 22:28    Reply with quote

Kai,
That's OK. Smile

To borrow from the Pirates of Caribbean ..., the manuals are more like guidelines. I follow most of it, but ... Smile

The VPE manual also says to fill all roles 4 weeks in advance - it probably won't happen with my club. When I became VPE, we barely had 1 week in advance. Now we're up to 2-3 meetings out, which is a huge accomplishment for us. We may get to 4 weeks next year, but as long as we're growing as a club, and people are reaching their goals, I'm OK with that not happening too. Rules and structure are great, but you don't follow them for the sake of following them. Sometimes, it's OK to not follow everything.

To me, the purpose of Easy-Speak is to alleviate the headache of meeting scheduling so the VPE can do their true job - educating people.
With the emphasis on club automation, I've been able to get out there and talk to members about their educational goals, help another member codify and run a structured Mentoring Program (with 6 well-defined Mentor/New Member meetings, outcomes, etc,).

We had to deal with a huge influx of new members - our club went from 20-25 up to 35 members, and we've had to be pragmatic.
At the beginning of our year, most of our member were very new (only a few experienced folks), so I had to focus on educating rather than scheduling. Right now, our biggest challenge (like Karen mentioned above) is helping everyone get in their speeches in a timely manner. I've expanded the Easy-Speak templates to create a Speech-A-Thon to alleviate the problem.

I've even been able to co-present on our Mentoring Program at our District TLI, and I've used my material to teach prospective mentors how to use the Mentoring Program to mentor the new members. I'm also helping the member who invented the Mentoring Program as part of his HPL and promote it in our Area and District. I've recruited a small education committee (which is in the VPE manual) so that I have a Meeting Coordinator to manage Easy-Speak and to help people with technical issues. I also have a Mentoring Coordinator to manage the mentors as they mentor the new members.

I've also invented new programs that don't exist anywhere in Toastmasters, like "Pizza and Possibilities", where I bring in a DTM and they tell their story about how they reached DTM. Although I presented on the TI Educational Program (of course), the material is a bit dry and doesn't do a good of explaining the HPL. I felt that a more human touch where newer members could understand the experience would be add to the overall learning experience. We do this out of club at a local pizza shop, and it's very informal and friendly. Next year, it's my goal to expand this program in my Area and use this as my HPL project.

Based on what I've been doing, District leaders have been asking me to write some articles in the District news letter.

I also do a lot MBWA (Management By Walking Around) to encourage people who are close to their goals to reach them.

I felt that meeting the needs of the people was the most important thing, and using Easy-Speak freed up my time to help them reach their educational goals.

No, we won't reach all 10 goals this year. We could've done this, but I'm not into pushing and pressuring people. The most important thing is to help people along their journey. But given the fruits of this past year (Club Scheduling, Mentoring Program), I think we can hit all 10 next year during my term as President.


Let's just agree to disagree. :)

And yes Daniel, we are getting pretty afar afield here. I totally agree.

Tom

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PaulO



Developer

Joined Date: 2009-07-20, 21:22
Posts: 563
Location: Redmond, Washington

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 10 Jun 11, 07:25    Reply with quote

There are very few areas in easy-Speak where 'best practices' are enforced. Speech scheduling is of course one of them however - I think mainly to ensure that Tom's solution doesn't become the one by 'lazy default' - if it were an option to turn off the VPE role in speech assigning, then it might be too easy for a new VPE to just go with that. A very recent experience of mine as VPE has reinforced the need for the VPE to control the enthusiasm of some members in order to better serve the needs of the Club as a whole by proactively scheduling speakers on a rotation - so actually I support the current position we've taken on this one, but I can see that in an Advanced club of A-type personalities that might not be convenient.

So in recognition to Tom's problem, a few months ago we did add the 'first/second/third preference dates to the speech request form, to make it much clearer to the VPE what date was being requested. My own club aren't that good at filling in that data yet, but I am glad that Karen in Honkers is getting the value from that (I still have to call around, and I have a rotation (5-7 weeks) that I like to try and adhere people to.

Just like the preference date idea, there is other middle ground that could be explored.
  1. a "provisional" booking status - so stronger than 'requested' but less strong than 'scheduled'. I'm thinking that a member could provisionally book, and then the VPE could just confirm the booking (VPE confirmation is used in other places such as the CL progress, so there is a precedence for this - though this might not avoid the main problem of over-enthusiastic members and a weak VPE not able to say No...
  2. more information to the member about how many speeches have already been requested for the meeting they want to speak at so they can be surer that their first preference is the one that is picked
  3. an auto-assign for speeches, which will prioritize based on preference (doesn't really solve any problem, probably overkill)
  4. more direct feedback to the VPE when someone requests a speech, or is assigned a speech. probably something we should do anyway (i.e. send an email when a speech is requested or assigned)


After writing the above, I might suggest leaning toward a slight beefing up of the 'request' procedure around option (b) so clubs could at their own volition interpret a 'first come, first served' "preferred" date as being paramount to a self-booked speech. The key here being that the system mustn't give the impression that the speech was somehow scheduled - it would be a club culture thing - so that the VPE would still feel free to say No. I have no idea how that might be achieved in an elegant fashion right now, so would welcome suggestions on this or any other alternative.

Just to set expectations - after just doing a major rework on the speech request feature, this isn't right at the top of our priority list...

Hope that helps - and thanks for your support of easy-Speak.. we appreciate that there are as many ways of running a successful Toastmaster Club as there are people... Smile

_________________
Paul Osborn, ACS, ALB
Treasurer, Redmond Nights TM
Toastmasters International
Where Leaders Are Made
Phone: +1 425-605-7707
www.toastmasters.org
www.d2tm.org

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tomm



easy-Speak tester

Joined Date: 2010-12-05, 00:49
Posts: 65
Location: Aurora, CO

Post Post subject Re: Request capability for users to assign speeches themselv   Posted 10 Jun 11, 17:57    Reply with quote

Paul,
This "middle ground" idea sounds good.

A provisional speech booking still gives the VPE control of the speeches, but it also gives members an opportunity to show that they really want to speak on a particular date. This works. Smile

I understand about priorities. Thanks for being open to this, and I hope to see this feature in a future release.

In the meantime, I truly appreciate Easy-Speak and the efforts of the development team.

Thanks.

Tom Marrs
------------
VPE, Simply Speaking

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