I'm sending this out to users of the contest.toastmost.org digital contest tools in the hope that you will find these tips helpful for any contests you are planning or participating in -- and also inviting you to suggest additions to the list.
The suite of digital tools for voting by judges -- and vote counting by contest leaders -- can allow you to get a vote very quickly if everything goes right. Here are the things you should do to make everything go right -- and to be prepared when something goes wrong.
I have now been using some version of these tools for more than 3 years and have been involved in several contests that have gone swimmingly, as well as a few that had hiccups. When I think I can change the software to eliminate problems, I try to do so. But any software is just a tool, and how you use the tool makes a big difference.
Get Everything Set Up as Early as Possible
Set up the contest dashboard well in advance. On a club website, you would pick Contest Dashboard on the Agenda menu for the contest meeting date. You can also set up a contest dashboard independent of a WordPress for Toastmasters club website at contest.toastmost.org.
Familiarize yourself with the Contest Dashboard ahead of time, including all of the tabs across the bottom.
Before the contest begins, make sure you have set the speaker order. There's an automated way of doing that through the tool, but if you use some other method make sure you record it manually on the Contestants tab. The digital ballots will not be active until the speaking order has been set.