Pathways Accelerator Workshop: Too Fast in Toastmasters?

Pathways Accelerator Workshop Toastmasters101

Can you go too fast in Toastmasters?  Pathways Accelerator Workshop

New Intro:

Are you willing to commit an hour a week to improve your personal life and your career?

Welcome to Toastmasters – where in about an hour a week, we can teach you public speaking and leadership skills. You will change your life as you improve your communication skills and discover the leader inside you. This is Toastmasters 101. I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

How much Toastmasters is too much Toastmasters?

This week, I have 3 scheduled speeches at 3 different Toastmasters club meetings plus the officer training on Saturday – and I’m the trainer for the vice president of PR session.

That may be too much Toastmasters. But I did this to myself so I can’t blame anyone, but wow, that’s a lot of speeches.

This morning on Facebook, I saw that a district in Canada – District 61 – yes, I follow just about every Toastmaster district on Facebook – is doing a Quick Start for Level 1. They call it the Pathways Accelerator Workshop. Get 80% of your level 1 done in one afternoon.

This is brilliant! My hat is officially tipped to the District 61 OTT Pathways Accelerator Workshop team! I’ve put the link to the event in my show notes.

And behind me, I hear a bunch of people saying, no no no. That’s working too fast. You can’t get that many speeches in one day and still be following the Toastmasters program – you only get credit for one speech per meeting and it’s bad for you to do so many speeches so close together and…

Stop already. I love this idea because I have seen it work.

I’ve worked with club to hold a one-day Speechcraft workshop. During that time, our attendees completed an ice breaker, 2 more speeches, and evaluation, and 3 different Topic Topics sessions. The difference in these speakers was phenomenal. If you weren’t there, I don’t know that you’d believe it.

Working Fast vs. Working Slow

I’ve said it before here on the podcast and in real life: it’s not just the speeches that help you improve your public speaking skills. It’s the evaluations you give that make the biggest difference.

Because as an evaluator, you have to focus on presentation skills such as stage presence, vocal variety and body language, you’re concentrating your mind on them. You may feel you’re being nitpicky and struggling to find points of growth.

Most of us like nitpicky evaluations. Just saying.

Value of Evaluations

What’s really interesting to me is that you’re going to pick out the things that you need to work on. With that thought in mind, I encourage people to start evaluating other people’s speeches quickly.

At the same time, when you see another member’s speech and hear an evaluation of it during the meeting, it’s fresh in your mind. You’ve got the perfect situation to compare what was done with the recommendations made during the evaluation – and your own thoughts on the presentation.

Watching speeches and evaluations teaches you as much as giving a speech. That’s why we want you a round for a while. When you’re not on the stage, you’re learning a lot.

That’s what we mean when we want you to not speed through the program. Take your time and observe.

If Toastmasters is where leaders are made, and that’s what we say we are, then the other half of being in Toastmasters besides learning public speaking is to learn leadership. That’s not as fast as learning how to make eye contact. It’s a slower learning curve. You have to take those opportunities too – taking a meeting role, being a club officer. Those are the basic steps of leadership that you build on.

So why do I like this Quick Start Pathways Accelerator Workshop?

The first thing that I like about this Pathways Accelerator Workshop is that it overcomes the biggest problems with getting people started on Pathways. When mentors can walk new members through the process of getting onto Base Camp, seeing the instruction for the projects, and doing them right away to move on to the next project – that’s ideal. We demonstrate how to use Pathways and reinforce it several times in one day. For people who are intimidated by Pathways, this breaks down the biggest fears – it’s hard and it’s complicated.

There are 5 parts to Level 1 in Pathways: the Ice Breaker speech, the first and second evaluation and feedback speeches, giving another Toastmaster an evaluation, and then the research and organize speech. This Accelerator Workshop says you will complete 80% of your level 1 in one day. I’m not sure which part they’re waiting for you to do at your regular club meeting – but it doesn’t matter to me which. You’re going to be so close to finishing level 1!

The other thing that I like is that because you get to practice immediately what you hear from an evaluator, you improve immediately. Do three speeches in one day and get better fast. Very fast. At the same time, you’re going to see others do it too.

This kind of workshop approach builds improvement quickly.

Rapid Repeat Evaluations

This past week, I learned about an advanced club in Columbus, Ohio in District 40 that offers a Rapid Repeat evaluation. You give a speech, get an immediate feedback, and then give the same speech again right away.  Just like the Pathways Accelerator Workshop. This rapid repeat practice is invaluable but it takes a lot of time in a club meeting. That might bother some members… but say, if you’ve got a club member that’s getting ready for a speech contest…

This week I have multiple speeches. I’m getting ready for the International speech contest, so I can use these three speech slots – literally all within 20 hours from first to last – to score some major evaluation points, change up my speech, and do it again.

I just thought of another way to use the rapid repeat evaluation process. If your club is having trouble getting members to give speeches, making this a monthly event can fill some speech slots plus inspire members to sign up for speech slots.

Let me ask you – when was the last time you gave a speech?

I hear some people say that they don’t have any ideas for their next speech, so they don’t sign up.

Well – there’s going slow and then there’s stuck.

Inspired Speech Topics

Not every speech is going to be the perfect topic. Not every speech topic is going to be a perfect speech. But you have to get up on the stage and speak. Feeling uninspired? Or are you afraid of boring the audience?

Take a topic that you know a good deal about – even if it’s a work topic. I have a friend in Toastmasters who talks about his civil engineering projects which are primarily about – I’m not kidding – sewage. Yes, we’ve heard at least a half dozen speeches about rain water run-off, building sewer lines that are 20 meters across that go on for miles, how to build a storm drain big enough to hold the run off for city blocks, and why the homes at the top of a hill have basement flooding when the buildings at the bottom of the valley don’t.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. Those speeches are really interesting – because the speaker makes them interesting with multiple rhetorical techniques. Sure, he asks us questions that he doesn’t expect us to answer – the traditional rhetorical question – but he also adds humor, creates a sense of mystery (so why do those houses flood?) and gives us the potential impact of the projects – positive and negative.

Don’t tell me engineers are horrible speakers. They just have to learn how to deliver their data, just like the rest of us.

  1.  So if you’re struggling for a speech topic, consider your job. Share you work with us. Even if you deal with complicated numbers or complex systems, these can be topics for you to work to make into a speech that isn’t boring.

2. If you’re in a corporate club, getting out of your silo may be a good thing.

3. If you’re still struggling, consider giving a speech from the classic program Leadership Excellence series. These speeches may be considered defunct, but they cover a lot of material about leadership that will help you improve your public speaking and leadership skills at one time. You can download the Leadership Excellence speech series for free from 

4. Or talk about your car. Or your dog. We all love dog stories.

But don’t stall out! Sign up today for a speech before the end of the year if your club has an open slot. If not, go for January. But get your name on the speaker list – and sign up to be an evaluator too. You need to work on those skills too so your speaking skills will improve!

How much is too much Toastmasters? I’ll let you know.

Wrap it up, Kim

Don’t forget – if you’re a club officer, now’s the time to get your club officer training. Whether you attend the district training or the division make up training sessions, your input is important. You’ve had a lot of experiences that you can share – you may have the answer to someone else’s question. If you’re the Vice President of Public Relations, I’m there with you. We’re covering three hacks that will improve the visibility of your club at our District 10 TLI this weekend. I’m sure your district has great training for you too!

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Toastmasters 101 is frequently misspelled as toastmsaters 101, but it’s still a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10.