Dianna Lloyd’s initial impression of Pathways was not very good. She said, “At first, I was very unhappy that there was no recognition or carry over of the level achieved in the legacy program. My plan to achieve DTM in the next 3 years was gone, as I was working on ACS and ALS at the time. I had to start all over again. One year to finish the program was not enough, it was arbitrary and I felt that exceptions could have been provided for members who had DTM in sight. There was so much negative feedback on how clumsy the user interface was and I didn’t have any initial positive impression of the program.”
After a great deal of self-discovery, she came to the conclusion that starting over would give her an opportunity to redo everything she had done, just better. Dianna commented, “Toastmasters is a journey and I could apply everything previously learned to these new projects to make them even better.”
She found that the user interface was not desirable, but once she learned how to navigate through Base Camp, it became easier. Additional positive changes to the programme, such as opening up the entire Path levels, allowed her to see the potential projects at higher levels and created interest in finishing her current level.
Dianna has been surprised how much of the legacy program ‘basics’ were not emphasized at the start of Pathways. The Competent Communicator manual built on very basic speech and delivery skills, such as vocal variety, body language, descriptive language, etc. A strong foundation was built in doing the initial 10 speeches. She found these required skills were buried in the Level 3 electives in her path. She said, “If not chosen, you don’t practice and develop the skills. It felt like both Competent Communicator and Competent Leader were merged, but the basics were not emphasized.”
In her Innovative Planning Path, Level 4, she found the Public Relations Strategies very helpful. Dianna reflected, “At the time I was working on this project, I was, in real time, building a public relations strategy for our local Kennel Club. The skills developed working on this project assisted me in developing a strategy and implementing it. Successfully applying what I learned in this project to a real world situation involved a website launch, developing a social media presence, and radio and print media campaign.”
Pathways has affected her life! “Every project completed gives you more self-confidence, and motivation to continue and explore more challenging electives. Friends tell me I’m a different person since I joined Toastmasters, a much better communicator, with more confidence to express my ideas. Now I take on challenges that I would have run from before.”
Dianna offers the following advice for other members about Pathways. “You joined Toastmasters to develop communication and leadership skills. Pick your Path, launch and GO! You can’t achieve a goal unless you have one. Look at the projects and choose tentative dates to give your speeches. Then work the program. If you know you are speaking in 4 weeks, start your speech or project. You will be ready for your target date. If you don’t have a target date, procrastination will prevail.”
Dianna has been a Toastmaster for 3 years. She is a member of Toast To Your Health Toastmasters Club and is the current Vice President, Education. She has completed Level 4 in the Innovative Planning Path and is targeting Level 5 by the end of April. Dianna took the online questionnaire and chose her Path from the top 3 suggestions.
As VP Education for her Club, Dianna discussed her thoughts on how their fantastic Executive was engaged and enthusiastic about getting members enrolled in Pathways.
“Our Club has enrolled 95% of our members in Pathways and we have 2 members who are finishing the legacy program before it ends this June. Our target is 100% by the end of June.”
Initially we had a visit from our Pathways Ambassador to introduce the new program and provide a demonstration of the user interface. Our Club Coach was also instrumental at promoting Pathways and encouraging all our Members to enroll. She got me started!
As VPE, Dianna scheduled 30 minute individual sessions with each member to enroll them in Pathways. She walked them through the online assessment tool, where they picked their path, and launched levels and projects in their Path.
The Club ran a session of Ice Breaker Workshops for all their new members as well. Worked through the initial project in a webinar, answered their questions, and got the Members to commit to a date to do their Ice Breaker speech.
Members have mostly positive feedback from Pathways. Online videos and tutorials are well received. They are still getting used to submitting the last part of each level for approval. The certificate that is available at the end of each level provides ongoing recognition which is motivating.
For Clubs that are struggling to start members on Pathways, Dianna says:
“My recommendation is to have someone in the Club, either the VPE or someone knowledgeable about Pathways to contact a Member individually. Group emails and announcements telling them to enroll are not as effective.
If someone can sit with a person or join via webinar (WebEx or Zoom) as they select their path and mentor them as they launch the project for the first time, it will give the Member confidence to continue on their own.”
The Club ran an ‘Ice Breaker Palooza’ with four Members doing their Ice Breakers in the same meeting. They had such fun, all doing it together, and it was a successful launch for them on their Pathways journey.
She also recommend that new members take a role and talk at the podium, either Timer, Grammarian, or Table Topics Master before their first speech. Then they have proven to themselves that they CAN speak in front of a crowd, especially one as welcoming and supportive as their Toastmasters Club.
Dianna stands by Executive enrolment in Pathways. “If the Executive are all enrolled in Pathways, progressing through the levels, and leading by example, it goes a long way to Member engagement. If the Executive are not working the program, the Club will not have the same energy and enthusiasm to adopt Pathways.”