The self-directed study course by which Toastmasters improve their communication skills along with their leadership skills. It is the central program of Toastmasters International, which recognizes your progress as Competent Communicator and Competent Leader, culminating in Distinguished Toastmaster. Toastmaster clubs are organized around helping their member Toastmasters to make progress in the educational program by
- Developing and delivering speeches,
- Carrying out club roles,
- Serving as club officers, and by
- Undertaking advanced projects.
The program can be characterized as following two tracks: Communication Track and Leadership Track, the former consisting of creating and delivering speeches, the latter involving carrying out roles at club meetings, serving as club officer, creating and carrying out programs to educate club members and enhance the club, and serving as District Officer. This characterization may make the educational program appear as two specializations—to be pursued separately. In reality, it is an integrated experience that enables us Toastmasters to work more effectively in our own lives and in our relationships with others. This result comes about not only because of enhanced communication skills, but as a result of improved life skills: we not only talk the talk, but we walk the walk as well.
Let us start our study of the program with a careful look at the path from Toastmaster, to Competent Communicator, to Advanced Communicator Bronze, to Silver, to Gold—the “Communication Track” (leaving the “Leadership Track” aside for the moment).
Advancing from Toastmaster to Competent Communicator involves working through the ten projects in the Competent Communication Manual. These projects gradually introduce us to the elements of communication—organizing our speech, how to say it, body and voice, gathering our information, using visual aids. They culminate with inspirational speaking and entertaining speaking. In fact, every speech we make involves the use of the skills highlighted separately in these speech projects: we need to integrate all of these lessons, make them part of how we speak. Having successfully completed these ten projects, we may apply for recognition as a Competent Communicator and embark on the succeeding stages.
At this point, we become aware of the fifteen manuals in the Advanced Communication Series. Each of these manuals involves five speeches, and the fifteen manuals together cover many areas of speaking, such as Storytelling, Television Speaking, Technical Speeches, etc. Each of the two further steps in the Communication Track require two further manuals to be completed; in the end you will have worked through six of the fifteen manuals in the Advanced Communication Series.
Advancing also requires two modules selected from among the nine in the Better Speaker Series and the six in the Successful Club Series, each involving a single educational speech. Modules you give from the Better Speaker Series are intended to help club members become better speakers by focusing on such topics as “Beginning Your Speech”, “Using Body Language”, and so on. Those in the Successful Club Series intend to promote quality in our club meetings, with subjects such as “Finding New Members For Your Club” and “Evaluate to Motivate”.
These modules differ from the speeches you are used to giving: in each case, all of the elements of the speech are given to you right in the manual: an introduction (to be given by the Toastmaster), a detailed and specific speech script, and prepared visual aids. You might think that you could give the speech by rote, reading right from the script. However, the instructions encourage you to use it merely as a guide, to design your own speaking style using all of the presentation skills you have learned as a Toastmaster.
Having completed the two selected Advanced Communication manuals and the two projects you chose from the Better Speaker and Successful Club Series, you may now apply for recognition as Advanced Communicator Silver—and set off on your path to Advanced Communicator Gold.
As with the previous two programs in the Communication Track, you progress by selecting two further manuals from the Advanced Communication Series. However, you will also need to conduct a project from the Success/Leadership Program, the Success/Communication Program, or the Youth Leadership Program. Furthermore, you are required to coach a new member with her first three speeches.
Let us now shift focus to the Leadership Track, which is intended to foster skills needed in the real world of work and community. Your process is guided by the Competent Leadership Manual, which has ten projects, each one involving the execution of one to four different Meeting Roles or other club roles.
The ten projects of the Competent Leadership Manual focus on skills such as Listening, Thinking, Feedback, Time Management, Planning, Implementing, Organizing, Delegating, Facilitating, Motivating, Mentoring, and Team Building. As with the projects in the Competent Communication Manual, you should integrate all of these skills into all of your work, rather than thinking of them as separate, isolated skills.
There are two prerequisites for Advanced Leader Bronze: completion of the Competent Leader program and fulfillment of your Competent Communicator program. It is interesting that advancing in the Leadership track requires advancement in the Communication Track, but it makes sense: leadership requires communication skills.
You advance in the Leadership Track by serving a term as one of the seven Club Officers on the Club Executive Committee. While serving in that office, you must participate in the preparation of a Club Success Plan and attend a district-sponsored Club Officer Training Program.
You will also need to conduct two programs selected from among those in the Successful Club Series and Leadership Excellence Series. We encountered the former in connection with the Advanced Communicator Silver program; the latter is comprised of 11 modules that are designed to help members learn the skills they will need to be successful leaders inside and outside Toastmasters.
Progressing from Bronze to Silver involves serving a term as a District Officer, by carrying out the High Performance Leadership Program, and by serving as Club Sponsor, Club Mentor, or Club Coach. This may appear a short list, but each task requires a high level of investment and commitment. And now you are ready to apply for recognition as Advanced Leader Silver.
The most distinguished recognition, that of Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), is now well within reach, for a simple reason: the only requirements are completion of Advanced Leader Silver and Advanced Communicator Gold. You have worked long and hard enough! Without further ado, you may now apply for your DTM.
The Toastmaster Educational Program combines goal-oriented efforts with process-oriented behavior. Not only is the reward in the journey, but there is a great deal of satisfaction in passing the milestones along the way. I hope that I have given you a clearer picture of the features in this journey and that you are looking forward as much as I am to engaging it.
ArthurOgawa 17:49, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
This category has the following 3 subcategories, out of 3 total.