Less than 1% of Toastmasters members go on to achieve their Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award, so achieving three DTMs is indeed an amazing accomplishment. In this article, Meg Heyworth shares her journey to completing three DTMs.
I joined Toastmasters International in March 2002 at Brighton & Hove Speakers’ Club as my speaking skills were slipping through not using them. It was a very good way to get me back to speed with my speaking skills, however I also found that doing the manuals also helped me overcome my problems with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia both of which prevented me from giving good verbal interviews when applying for jobs.
My confidence improved and I really enjoyed watching other club members grow as a result of feedback and mentoring. When I moved away from Brighton I decided that rather than stop going to a club I would start one nearer to where I lived.
Eastbourne Speakers Club was chartered in January 2007 after 2 years of building club membership from nothing. This was an amazing chance to start earning awards towards a DTM.
The awards required on the Communication Track
- Achieve a Competent Communicator Manual (CC): 10 Speeches.
- Advanced Communicator Bronze: 10 speeches.
- Advanced Communicator Silver: 10 speeches and 2 presentations from the Better Speaker or Successful Club series.
- Advanced Communicator Gold: 10 Speeches and one presentation from the Successful Club Series, Leadership Excellence Series or Success Communication Series plus coach a member with their first three speeches.
The Better Speaker and the Successful Club series were brilliant manuals to start a club as they formed the bases for the meetings for completely new to speaking members. All the education manuals are brilliant to assist getting new club members to gel.
The awards required on the Leadership Track
- Competent Leadership Manual (CL): Again, starting a new club was invaluable for getting this manual filled as I had to do all the roles, frequently more than one at a meeting and do all the leadership roles of managing the website, writing the newsletter, finding methods of getting the club known by good PR all of which could be claimed for the CL Manual.
- Advanced Leadership Bronze: Achieve the CC and CL manuals Serve 6 months as a Club Officer and participated in a Club Success Plan. This success plan is an under estimated tool I found it invaluable to get Eastbourne Club Members motivated to assist with the club officer roles and club growth.
- Attend Club Officer Training: I used to offer to host these events which meant that club members came to the training and met other Toastmasters from other clubs. In 2007 I got Lance Miller the 2006 world champion to come to our Division H meeting because he was on his world tour and keen to assist new clubs and areas and divisions.
- Conduct two more presentations: From the Successful Club Series and Leadership Excellence Series.
- Advanced leader Silver (ALS): Achieve Advanced Leader Bronze. In 2007 I served a term as a District Officer, my first role was Area Governor of 32 which went from the edge of Hampshire to Kent but of course there were only five clubs to visit then.
- High Performance Leadership Program: This was the most useful tool for getting a new club off the ground as it got all the club members to work together towards getting to charter and we could decide what we worked on. Looking back on it I should have suggested that everyone did an HPL then as it would have helped some members now to DTM. Serve as a club sponsor, mentor or coach, which came as part as chartering a new club.
My 1st DTM was the hardest simply because at the time I was not experienced enough to know to gain awards and write down when I had achieved them. However, starting a new club was a really good method of gaining the modules needed to get to DTM.
My 2nd DTM was achieved in 2014 because I started another club, Worthing Speakers, in July 2013 I volunteered to be Area 55 Governor as it was a new area with no one to be AG and the Worthing Club was chartered. I just kept on keeping on doing speeches, giving presentations, holding club officer training and keeping a record of what I did, where I did it and why it had been done. This is where my Dyspraxia helped me because I love keeping records, and a diary of my daily life so I could find the information for the DTM’s easily.
My 3rd DTM was the easiest as the speeches, training and presentations were done to assist the clubs grow, assist the VP education by filling roles as short notice and deciding to do all the speeches as if they were Table Topics so I could always do a speech at the drop of a hat. I was known as Meg who likes to say “Yes” to any TM opportunity offered.
My top tips to prevent finding a DTM a struggle are:
- Always say “Yes” when offered an opportunity to speak or give a presentation.
- Keep a brag box of all the achievements and presentations done for TM so they are easy to find
- when needed.
- Plan ahead so that you can ask for roles to complete the leadership manual.
- Just keep on keeping on with speeches, holding roles, and volunteering to help.
After all, 120 speeches, 15 presentations, 3 District team roles, sponsoring 3 clubs, mentoring 3 club members and completing 3 HPL’s is all juts part of being a member of the big Toastmaster Organisation.
Well done Meg, you are an inspiration to us all.