I joined Toastmasters in March of 1997 and received my first DTM in July 2007 under the original education program. In 2017 we had the rollout of Pathways in our District 4. I achieved my second DTM award in November 2018 after meeting all the Pathways requirements for a second DTM Why did I undertake a second DTM? Because it was time for change.
In 2009 to 2010 when I served as the District Governor for District 4, I learned about the new educational program under development to modernize the Toastmasters learning experience. I was excited. The Toastmasters organization started in October of 1924 and was incorporated in 1932. Since then, the world of Communication and Leadership has changed tremendously. I too believed it was time for change, and it was time to change with the changes.
One of the reasons I decided to get on the fast track to complete the requirements in Pathways, was to help me better understand the changes in the new program. I knew what old offered but was curious about the new. I signed up to be a Pathways Guide for District 4. After introducing the required ten clubs to the program, I decided to do the program myself, to see where Pathways will take me. I wanted to validate the full range of benefits the Pathways program promised. Some of those promises were:
• Customized learning tailored to personal and professional goals
• Early and frequent recognition of accomplishments
• Mobile access to educational materials
• Expanded video and digital content
• A self-paced, self-development journey
At one of my sessions to introduce Pathways, a fellow Toastmasters said to me, if the change is so good why don’t you go first. So I did. The two Paths I selected Presentation Mastery and Visionary Communication delivered on the promises. Once I did my icebreaker, I realized how important it was to develop a strategy to complete each project with full benefits. While it was great to have the flexibility of working online, anytime, anywhere, I found it useful to have the downloaded copy of each project. I also opened a notepad window and made notes after launching each project. The notepad made it easy to cut and paste key points as I worked through a project. Finally, I would combine the guidelines from the worksheets with my notes to develop the required project for my presentations at club meetings.
The Pathways program is an evolution in the Toastmasters experience. It allows you to select and customize speeches on topics best suited for your personal and professional growth. New projects like writing a compelling blog, creating a podcast and building a social media presence are dynamic projects, which were not available before the change to Pathways. Having done both programs, the old and the new, I believe the Toastmasters education program will help you build the core competencies required to be an effective communicator and effective leader.
To get started, you will find a wealth of valuable information on the Toastmasters Website. Another useful resource made available by a fellow Toastmasters Guide – Ken Braly from District 101 is available at http://kenb.com/pathways – Pathways will take you where ever you want to go if you embrace the change. This milestone in my Toastmasters journey made me realize that change is good when you go first.