3 Tips for Making the Most out of Toastmasters

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Well into my successful career in Information Technology, I went back to school for a Master’s Degree in Learning and Development.  My thesis paper was on “Self-Directed Learning”.  During my research for this paper, I realized that I was not a Self-Directed learner.  I needed guidance.

That is what I love about Toastmasters – I call it “Directed Self-Learning”.  With the Toastmasters learning program, you get the basic information you need for picking up the elements of public speaking and leadership (whether you realize it or not).  In addition, if you desire, you can branch out and discover more about the topics through your own research.  The Toastmasters learning program is a package consisting of instructional materials, a supportive environment, helpful evaluation and the opportunity to “learn by doing.”

Even though you receive direction, it is still “Self-Learning” – you are responsible for how much you learn.  Here is a check-list of items to help you get the most out of your learning:

  1. Be sure you have a mentor within the chapter. 
    • If you do not know who your mentor is, ask the Vice President of Education.
    • If your mentor hasn’t contacted you, contact them!
  2. Start your Path.
    • Be sure that you read through each project — there is a lot of information therein, including the requirements, documentation, evaluation, and other forms.
    • Work with your mentor if you have questions, could use some insight, or need a practice partner.
    • Schedule your speech on the web site’s weekly meeting sign up. This is a good way to commit to yourself that you will speak.
    • Print your evaluation form and bring it with you to the meeting.
    • Give your speech, review your evaluation, and log into Pathways to finish out your project.
    • To keep your momentum, start reading your next project right away and continue through the projects and levels.
  3. Be consistent.
    This is perhaps the most important element. It is best to speak on a regular basis. This helps increase your skills and build confidence. When you wait a long time between speeches, you can forget what you have learned and might have to work harder than you might otherwise.
    • It is recommended to speak at least once a month, or perhaps on a 6- or 8-week schedule — whatever works best for you.
    • Consider making a list of prospective titles or topics for several speeches and putting them on the calendar in advance!
Scheduling your speeches in advance is a way of making a commitment to yourself.

Remember, it is YOUR learning program. Make sure you get the best out of it — for you!

Pathways: Choosing Your Path

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Greetings, fellow Toastmasters!   Have you chosen your Path, yet?  I highly recommend that you do some research first.  Toastmasters provides an assessment; I think it almost always recommends Innovative Planning, which is the most common path.  I recently saw this great video that explains the concepts and the level of “Leadership” included in each path.  Please check out this “Tuesday Talks-N-Tips” video:

It is an hour-long presentation but interesting!  The presenter, George Marshall, was the Pathways Chief Ambassador for the first district to try Pathways, District 57

Other tools include:

Having now completed a Distinguished Toastmaster award (DTM) within the Traditional Program and two of the paths required towards a Pathways DTM, I’ll say I really have enjoyed Pathways, and I’ve learned a lot.  I am sure you will, too!  The Learning Management System (a.k.a. Basecamp) can be a little tricky to maneuver, but once you’ve gotten that, it’s smooth sailing!

I am planning to present a series of speeches over the next few months regarding “getting started” in Toastmasters and Pathways specifically.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lao Tzu

Pathways: Completing Projects and Levels

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We have started a new Toastmasters year (July-June) with new officers and a new set of goals for the year.  This year, I am serving as the Vice President of Education, and we have all of our members working with Pathways.  My personal goal is to help everyone understand Pathways better and to enable everyone to get around in the system.  Many people, including myself, have challenges with the Base Camp system.  Today, I want to share the “process” for completing a project in a Pathways “Level.”

Process for Completing a Project

  1. Launch your project in Base Camp by clicking the Launch button.
  2. Read every page in the project.
    1. Review the Project Checklist and read Your Assignment.
    2. Complete the Self-Evaluation at the beginning.
  3. Every project has one or more speeches associated with it.
  4. Select a date and sign up for your speech on our chapter’s web site! Be sure to fill in the Path and Project information.
  5. Print your project-specific evaluation form and bring it to the meeting.
  6. I would recommend that you also download and save the Print My Project and any other documentation from the project for future reference.
  7. After your speech:  SAVE YOUR EVALUATION FORM!
    You may scan and upload documents into the My Feedback section.
  8. Complete your Self-Evaluation at the end and submit to complete your project.

Process for Completing a Level

  1. Once you have completed all the projects in a level, click on the Level Completion project to send a request to the VPE to approve.
  2. In addition, please fill out the Pathways Level Completion Verification (PDF), (also downloadable from the Downloads section of this website).
  3. Print, fill out, and scan this document along with copies of all your evaluations.
  4. Send to the VPE to validate your approval.

Starting in September, I hope to do a series of speeches on “Getting Started” in Toastmasters as well as Pathways.  Look forward to more information in the VPE Corner, hopefully monthly at a minimum!