What’s Beyond the DTM Award at Toastmasters?

I realized the other day at the latest Toastmasters Leadership Institute that it’s coming up on my 5th anniversary of entering Toastmasters, which I did back in December 2010.    When I started, my goal was grand but vague, something along the lines of “being a better public speaker.”   But I quickly started getting caught up in the current of the Toastmasters educational program, which consists of a communication and a leadership track.

First of all, what IS the DTM award?

The communication track consists of the Competent Communicator, Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Communicator Silver, and Advanced Communicator Gold awards.     Each of these levels requires you to do 10 speeches, the first set of 10 from the Competent Communicator Manual, and the subsequent 10 speeches from two separate Advanced manuals containing five speeches each (a total of 15 Advanced manuals exist).

DTM Program

The leadership track consists of the Competent Leadership award, which requires you to develop your skills supporting the meeting in various support roles, anywhere from the simple (Timer, Grammarian) to the more complex (Toastmaster, General Evaluator).    The Advanced Leadership Bronze award is obtained by being an officer of the club, and the Advanced Leadership Silver award is obtained by taking your leadership skills beyond the club in three ways:  by 1) helping create a new club or nurture it once it has been created, 2) doing a High Performance Leadership process to help with process improvement within the District, and 3) serving as a District officer, usually the Area Director, the first level of District leadership beyond the club level.

Once both of those tracks are completed, you earn the Distinguished Toastmaster award, because you have shown that you are a polished speaker and experienced leader.

If you stick to the educational program, you can achieve it anywhere from between 3-5 years after entering Toastmasters.    In my case, I plan on completing the last requirement, the Advanced Leadership Silver award, in October, which means I will be awarded (if everything goes smoothly) the DTM award at the Fall Conference in November, just shy of my 5th year anniversary of being in Toastmasters.

But somewhere in the back of my mind, while I am racing to the “finish line”, I am thinking to myself:  what’s next?

You see, having the educational program at Toastmasters meant that there was always a goal to strive for.   I am my best when I challenge myself to meet goals, so what happens when I no longer have goals to strive for at Toastmasters?  I was afraid I was going to go from being a DTM, a Distinguished Toastmaster, to an ETM, an Extinguished Toastmaster.  So after giving it much thought this summer, I have put together five post-DTM goals that I wanted to share with people because they may in a similar situation and may be looking for ideas on what to do once they have scaled the mountain called “DTM”.


One possibility is to start the program over again with the Competent Communicator manual and earn a second DTM, which should go a lot more quickly than the first.    I just ordered a new Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership manual and plan to do just that–start the cycle over again!


Not just an ordinary club, but a specialty club.    In District 30, for example, there are specialty clubs for speakers aspiring to becoming professional speakers, like the Windy City Professional Speakers Club. There are clubs for people in a certain profession, such as project managers, like the Project Management Institute Chicagoland Toastmasters Club.    I’ve joined them both in addition to my home club, Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters Club.   It takes the speaking and leadership skills I honed in my home club and now applies them to my career in very focused ways.


Some clubs in District 30 are “bilingual” clubs, meaning that you can do a speech in English OR, as an option, in a foreign language such as Spanish, French, and German.    Although I don’t plan to join such clubs right away, I do plan to visit them as a Club Ambassador, which is a program in and of itself in District 30 that encourages such visits to explore the wider Toastmaster universe within the District.    In this way, i can practice foreign languages while doing what I used to dread, but now love instead, namely, giving speeches!   It’s my goal to visit each of those three clubs I referred to above and give speeches in Spanish, French, and German by the end of the current Toastmasters year which ends in June 2016.


Part of my reason for joining the Windy City Professional Speakers Club was to polish my speaking skills so that I could actively pursue speaking opportunities outside of the Toastmasters world.    I have landed two speaking opportunities, one as the emcee for the reunion celebration of the 40th anniversary of the graduating class of 1975 from Homewood-Flossmoor High School, which just took place last weekend.   The other one is as the guest speaker for the Multicultural Connections Club in Chicago, where I am speaking about my passion for learning foreign languages as a key to promoting multicultural and international understanding.    I am sure that the confidence I gain from these opportunities will lead to other opportunities down the line.


I started out going beyond the club level of leadership by being an Assistant Area Governor for Area 56 of the South Division of District 30.   I assisted Felton Armand, the Area Governor, in visiting clubs, filling out Club Visit Reports, running Area Speech Contests, and assisting at the Division Speech Contests.    Then last year, when I became Area Governor, I was essentially doing the job for the second time, and it made the job a lot easier.    Not just because I had done all of the work before, but because I had established relationships with many people in the District leadership as an Asst. Area Governor, so I hit the ground running as the Area Governor.

This year I decided to go to the next level as Division Director assisting all of the new Area Directors (the new name for the position that used to be called the “Area Governor”).    I’m doing it by being an Assistant Division Director for LaShonda Milton so that next year, when I am the actual Division Director, it will all seem so familiar somehow.

And being around the District leadership for now the third year in a row, I am already thinking about what kind of District-level positions I would like to pursue before becoming the District Director.   I don’t know if I will actually make it that far, which will require an additional five years within Toastmasters to achieve.   But it’s a worthwhile goal, and I need goals in front of me to keep me distinguishing myself long after the DTM award is sitting collect dust on my mantelpiece.

So start thinking about the road map you will take after you become a DTM.   When you get to the DTM award, and think that you have reached the highest mountain, take a rest and get up fresh the next morning.   You may find with the crisp, clear morning air that you look around you and see that what you thought was the peak of the highest mountain is in reality the base camp for your next summit!


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