5 Things I Learned While Becoming a DTM

Let’s face it, when we first start out as Toastmasters, almost no one’s goal is to become a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). In fact, my one and only objective when I joined was to keep myself from keeling over each time I had to do Table Topics. But gradually, I built trust in my club and myself. I realized the power of the educational program as I took on new roles and continued to give speeches. By following the Toastmasters program one step at a time, I was taken on an amazing journey and discovered several things along the way that have shaped who I am today. 

#1 Speaking IS fun, when you have a message to share

It took a bit of coaxing for me to even get started with my first manual. My mentor convinced me to think about the one message I wanted to share with others and encouraged me to create speeches based on that one message. The more I shared, and the more feedback I received, the more fun I began to have, and I got hooked! DTMs must give at least 40 manual speeches. Thankfully, there are a variety of different advanced manuals to suit almost any type of message. Whether your goal is to persuade, to inform, to make an audience laugh, or to inspire them, there’s a manual and ample opportunity to spread your message.

#2 Saying YES opens up many possibilities

Toastmasters is not just about giving speeches in your club. There are countless opportunities to try something new: becoming a club officer, helping out at contests, being an area director, visiting other clubs, starting or mentoring new clubs, or coaching others which need assistance. When I began to say YES to new experiences, not only did my speaking chances increase, but I learned valuable lessons about leading and influencing others. The skills I learned, and the people I met along the way, helped me outside of Toastmasters both personally and professionally. 

#3 Leadership is about building connections

Leaders who foster relationships with their team members not only have more enjoyable experiences, but are more successful. As an Area Governor (now known as Area Director), I learned firsthand how important it was to create connections between myself and the clubs and the clubs among themselves. There’s a lot to be said for the acronym TEAM- Together Everybody Achieves More!

#4 When you need help, all you have to do is ask

We are not walking this journey alone. When help is needed, all you need to do is ask. Of course, it helps to have a connection with others before the ask (see point #3), but there are typically many people who are willing to assist. When you involve more people, more people can reap the benefits. In addition, mentoring is a built into Toastmasters. One of my favorite experiences while becoming a DTM was working on my High Performance Leadership Project (HPL). I found a lot of value in seeking out the guidance of others who had been in my shoes before.

#5 There’s the easy way, and there’s the right way  

In almost anything we do we have a choice between something that’s quick and easy and something that may take longer or involve more effort. Time and effort always pays off- not just for those you are leading, but also yourself. The lessons you learn from tackling a lofty goal, or solving an involved problem FAR outweigh the speed of getting things done quickly, or taking the path of least resistance.  Do what’s right. Not what’s easy.

Want to find out more about becoming a DTM? Consider attending The Road Map to DTM, a special District 4 event on October 13th.  To find out more, or to register CLICK HERE.

About Katherine Pratt 1 Article
Katherine Pratt first stepped into Toastmasters in 2003, when her coworker dragged her to a meeting while she was living in the Czech Republic. Little did she know that 13+ years later, she would still be a member of not only one, but 3 clubs. Katherine has held numerous club and district roles. She currently is the Immediate Past District Director of District 4. She's a teacher on the Peninsula. In her (much increased) spare time, Katherine enjoys hiking, travel, reading, theatre and she beginning to train to run a 1/2 marathon again. Someday.

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