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Who Moved My Toastmasters Cheese?

As of this June, two-thirds of our members are still working on the current education program. The other third, most of whom are new members, has begun Pathways.

Broadly speaking, the current education program has 2 tracks and 2 levels: the communication and leadership tracks, and the competent and advanced levels. Pathways considers communication and leadership as a single quality and offers 5 levels for each path.

I believe, as our club continues to transition to Pathways, it's important that everyone understands the new program. Guests and members in Pathways need to know so that they can set SMART education goals and ask the right questions for help. Members who aren't in Pathways also need to know so that they can be a successful mentor to new members.

In this article, I will cover 3 topics:

  • What's different? What's same?

  • What are the steps to giving a speech?

  • What are the upcoming projects?


1. What's Different? What's Same?

People join Central Austin Toastmasters for diverse, personal and professional reasons. Some want to be an engaging presenter, some want to be a dynamic leader, some want to be a team facilitator, and so on.

Pathways provides 10 paths to cover many of such goals. While there is no exact analog, what comes close is the Advanced Communication in the current education program. There are 15 advanced manuals, each covering a particular area in communication.

In terms of number of projects, the current education program offers 130 projects in communication and leadership. I think it's a testament to the success and longevity of the Toastmasters program. On the other hand, Pathways provides 60 unique projects (there are many overlaps among the ten paths) and incorporates online learning. My hope is that, over time, this number will increase.

A Pathways path consists of 5 levels. As we see from above, in each level, we complete at least 1 required project (a blue square) and possibly elective projects (a green square).

Level 1 has three required projects:

  • Ice Breaker

  • Evaluation and Feedback

  • Researching and Presenting

The Ice Breaker project works in the same way as it does in the current education program (CC #1). We get to introduce ourselves in 4 to 6 minutes.

The Evaluation and Feedback project is interesting because there are 3 parts for completion. First, we give a 5-to-7 minute speech and get feedback from our evaluator. Second, we use that feedback to give another 5-to-7 minute speech, possibly the same or a new one. Lastly, we practice giving feedback to another person as an evaluator.

The Researching and Presenting project is a straightforward one, a 5-to-7 minute speech that we currently give for Research Your Topic (CC #7).

Once we complete these 3 projects, we can move to level 2. Keep in mind that all paths share the same projects for levels 1 and 2, and most of the elective projects in levels 3, 4, and 5. While the big overlap is disappointing, we will have plenty of opportunities to understand each other's projects and help out.

Let's now look at what's the same. Pathways and the current education program share 4 important aspects:

  • Meeting

  • Mentor

  • Officer

  • High Performance Leadership

We will continue to have excellent, educational meetings each Monday. Each meeting has prepared speeches, Table Topics, and evaluations.

Mentors and officers will continue to play a crucial part in helping members meet their education goals. We are introduced to mentoring at level 2, and can get credit as an officer for some of the leadership paths.

Lastly, the High Performance Leadership (HPL) is now a level 5 project (required in three paths, elective in others). Think of HPL as a PhD thesis: we get to create a project with high impact, assemble a committee to guide us, and apply our communication and leadership skills.

It's also different from a thesis in that we get to create a team to help us finish HPL. I think HPL shows how much we have improved through Toastmasters, and encourage everyone to consider it as their level 5 project.


2. What Are the Steps to Giving a Speech?


Sign up to give a speech during meeting or after.

First, sign up to give a speech during meeting or after. You can update our agenda with speech info (which project are you working on? what is the title of your speech?), or email the Webmaster, VP Education, or Toastmaster so that they can update it for you.

All Pathways evaluation forms are available on our website,

Second, contact your Evaluator so that they can prepare for the meeting. Talk to them about your goals for your speech so that they understand what to look for. All Pathways evaluation forms are available on our website. We can print them for you for free (*thanks to your club dues), so it's important that you keep everyone in the loop.

Lastly, upload your evaluation form to Base Camp. You can do this with a scanner or camera phone. When you complete a level, your VP Education will check that you have actually completed the projects. Just in case, please keep the printed copies of your evaluation forms.


3. What Are the Upcoming Projects?

As our club transitions to Pathways, I believe there will be several opportunities for us to improve and grow. I encourage both new and experienced members to pitch their ideas and bring them to life through teamwork.

If you haven't yet, please take the Pathways assessment now. You can still continue the current education program, but this way, you can see Base Camp that everyone in Pathways will see. We will award a Pathways pin to the first 3 members who complete their level 1.

Central Austin Toastmasters is one of the few clubs that provide a fully functional, mobile-friendly website.

Central Austin Toastmasters is one of the few clubs that provide a successful Meetup group.

Central Austin Toastmasters is one of the few clubs that provide a LinkedIn community for working professionals.

One of my passions is incorporating tech into Toastmasters. How can we combine something old with something new? I envision Central Austin Toastmasters to continue to pioneer innovative ways to use web to help members achieve their personal and professional goals.

I will pitch my HPL early fall 2018, and need your talent and time as a volunteer to make it come true. If you are interested in leadership, team building, web design, content creation, data analysis, or visualization, please let me know!


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