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Starting the Second Pathway Before Ending the First
Should you finish your first pathway before you start your second pathway? I know there are people out there who wouldn’t consider their second pathway before finishing their first.
I respect your choice. Because – it is your choice.
You can work the Toastmaster education program in any way you like. I know there are people out there who bought every single pathway right from the start and presumably working their way through them. I know my friend Judy is working on her 4th or 5th pathway right now. She may even be repeating one of them.
It’s entirely up to you to work this program how you want to. You just can’t start at the end and work backwards. That would be silly, right?
Now, after finishing reviewing the Level 3 electives, I’m back to the start. It doesn’t look right, does it?
Moving to Level 4
It’s my advice that you do the required number of Level 3 electives and move immediately to Level 4. Why?
1. It’s good for you.
There are many, many excellent speech projects in Level 3 and I do want you to do at least 4 – the essential speech projects I talked about in episode 18. But staying on Level 3 doesn’t open the really cool projects you’ll find as you move on that will truly challenge you.
The problem with the Level 4 projects is that they’re long projects. You may find that you’ve got a lot of work to do between the required speeches in them. This slow-down frustrated me. I’m in Toastmasters to learn public speaking, but now I have to _____ and here you fill in the blank. We will talk about Level 4 projects in the weeks to come, but right now, let’s just say – you’re gonna work them. You need speech projects to fill the time between the Level 4 speeches.
You can do the extra speech projects from Level 3. The extensive list of electives makes me think that maybe Toastmasters International had this Level 4 lull in mind.
I don’t think about training myself with these Level 3 electives as a bad thing. In no way is it a waste of time to finish all of these projects. If you look back to the Competent Communicator manual, many of those Level 3 projects are the same skills that used to be required.
Moving on to Level 4 brings you some challenges to start putting together the pieces of public speaking and leadership. Up till now, you’ve gotten to work on different parts – speech skills like vocal variety and body language, or some basic introduction to leadership, such as time management or successful collaboration. We say you work at your own pace in Toastmasters and that’s absolutely true. But the step from Level 3 to Level 4 is more on the order of a small catapult than a slight rise. You’re ready for it – go for it!
2. It’s good for your club.
The Distinguished Club Program is a metric to determine the success of the club to support the members and one of those metrics is completion of education awards. Level 4 has several interesting options that I think your club should hear about on a regular basis.
So why do I suggest starting your second pathway now?
If you want to do another pathway – if making a choice when you first started in Toastmasters back at your assessment was hard because you wanted more than one – you should know that you can work on as many Pathways as you want to pay for. If you want to work on a speech-specific pathway like Presentation Mastery and a leadership development pathway like Leadership Development at the same time – you can. After you finish Level 3 of your first pathway, starting a second during the Level 4 lull is a smart idea. At the same time that you’re putting together the parts into your own style, if you start a new pathway, you’ll be reminded of what those parts are. It’s a lot of reinforcement of the basics.
Think about dance – in ballet, the basics at the barre are not neglected even when the dancers are quite able to do pirouettes and jumps. A musician will practice scales and chords even when they are virtuosos. In the same way, going back and covering the basics while moving up into the top levels of your pathway makes sense.
How to Pick Your Second Pathway
Picking your second pathway is exactly the same process as picking your first. You have to take the Assessment.
This isn’t a bad thing – even if you already know what you want to pick. After all, you’ve probably been a Toastmaster for several months now and learned a lot. You’ll have a few minutes to examine how far you’ve come in your personal speaking and leadership journey as you answer the questions.
Then go and see what they recommend to you. It’s very possible that what you want is in the first 3 options they give you, but as we talked about in Episode 2, you can ignore their recommendations and click on the option to see all the pathways and select from that list.
Yes, you start from the beginning. You’ll give another Ice Breaker. You’ll get through the Level 1 Project 2 double speech project with a lot less confusion. And you may take the same Leadership or Communication Style quiz on Level 2 again.
This does aggravate some people. Let me put this out for your consideration, and feel free to tell me on the Toastmasters 101 Facebook page or here on the website if you disagree with me:
Are you starting over – or starting again?
It’s a matter of mindset.
There is a difference. Starting over implies that you’ve failed and you have to begin again. The cookies didn’t come out right, so you have to throw out the dough and start all over. But starting again… that has a different idea… as if when we start again, we’ve learned something. We’re going to apply what we’ve learned and build on that now.
If Toastmasters International is listening, I have a few suggestions on how to reorganize this repetition to help the members better. Just putting that out there…
So what’s going on with Toastmasters 101?
In Toastmasters 101, we started this podcast in 2016 with an in-depth review of the Competent Communicator manual. In the reboot in 2019, we started covering Pathways and said we were a podcast for people interested in Toastmasters and new members. Does it make sense that we’re now talking about Level 4 or starting a second pathway? Isn’t that pretty advanced?
I have to acknowledge that this podcast has changed, just as you’ve changed as a result of Toastmasters. What I thought to do was simple: create a podcast that explained the complications of getting started with Pathways.
- I spent 3 weeks talking about the Assessment, which was everyone’s first big hurdle in the program.
- I covered weirdness of the Level 1 Project 2 double speech project.
- We talked about meeting roles and Table Topics – not Pathways, but still critical parts of Toastmasters.
Just how far was I going to go? Is Level 3 too advanced for a podcast called 101?
If I’m talking about Levels 3, 4 and 5, is it still an introduction to Toastmasters?
I think it is.
But how much more can I say about the Assessment? If you’re looking for more information about it, you can go to the earlier podcasts and listen to them. Until Toastmasters International decides to change things up, the steps through the program will be the same.
So what should I cover? I guess I could mention that finally! the pop-up problem has been solved. As of July of 2019, the project training and instructions won’t open a pop-up window but will open in a new tab. That’s fantastic! It’s been one of the biggest complaints about the program and I’m so glad to see TI respond in a positive way. I am still waiting for Daniel Rex’s promise to open the windows and let us see all the Pathways projects more fully. In the mean time, I think I’m going to continue to give the basic information about the upper levels projects because that’s what I’m hearing from people that they want it and they need it.
Is it 101 to talk about Level 4 and Level 5 projects? I think it’s reasonable in an overview course to look at the top as well as the beginning. So if you’re looking for information about how to get started with Toastmasters, we’ve got that information already for you in the early episodes. I hope you’ll stick around long enough to want basic information on the upper levels too.
If you think I should start an advanced Toastmasters podcast, let me know that too!
Our podcast music is from
"Mariachi Snooze" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/