Let’s take a look at the Toastmasters Path final project: Reflect on Your Path.
Reflect on Your Toastmasters Path
Have you ever cleaned out a garage or storage shed and had the great sense of completion that one gigantic task is done?
It’s so satisfying when you close the door and you know that it’s done… for now but right now… Ahhhhh.
This summer, my husband and I have been cleaning out not our own garage, but my parents’ garage. My parents have lived in this home since… since… Ok, 50 years. Over the years, they have accumulated objects that well, have some sentimental value, some tools that have lost their value, and a whole lot of dead leaves and spider webs in the corners.
Bit by bit, we’ve tackled this task, and this week, we addressed the back wall – the place where half-full bottles of bug spray and undrinkable soda pop go to die. The wall of unloved tools and broken ladders and that shelf that we’re all afraid to look behind… Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit over-descriptive here. But you know what I’m talking about. That final hurdle of the big task that justifies sitting down with your feet up and something comforting to drink in your hands.
We brought home a trunk full of recyclables, a backseat full of donations, and a significant number of things that just don’t have any value to anyone anymore. What was left behind? My childhood sled and a spool of string.
What’s this got to do with Toastmasters?
When you’re done… are you done? What do you do with what you’ve got when you’re done with a Toastmasters Path?
Today on the podcast, we’ll talk about the last project and why it should be last.
Do you need to be able to speak to a crowd? Persuade them? Motivate them? Then you need Toastmasters. In an hour a week, we can teach you public speaking and leadership skills and you’ll have fun while you do it. This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci
The Ups and Downs of the Toastmasters Path
Want to feel nostalgic? Pick up your childhood sled and remember how big it was when you and your brother could both sit on it as you head down the hill.
Yes, a Flexible Flyer, to those of you old enough to remember – is still in my father’s garage. It’s not entirely abandoned – I know my kids used it on the same hills I rode down. But these days, we don’t have any kids in the family who are going to use it… and maybe I should…
When we finish up the big project of Level 5 in any path, we may get that sentimental feeling, looking back at the fun and the work – the sled ride down the hill and the trudge back up to do it all again. Or maybe all you can think about is the time you fell off and ended up at the bottom of the hill before the sled got there.
We reflect on our paths – ups, downs, slides down and the trips up the hills. This project stops us for a final project to evaluate ourselves and Toastmasters.
An evaluation of your experience helps you can reexamine the frustrations, and revel in the successes.
You remember the fun, and maybe accept that the drudgery of some of the projects had some value.
You have the opportunity to realize what you’ve learned and how you’re applying it in your life – professional or personal.
Sleds, Strings… and Toastmasters?
One of the things that I kept in my father’s garage is a bit of string. I’m strangely sentimental of that string – I do not remember not having that string. My father used it to make a handle for us to pull the sled up the hill. It tied tomato plants to stakes and held the car trunk closed before there were bungy cords. It’s always been there in my life.
There’s not much left – a few meters, maybe. I remember when that spool was too heavy for me to pick up. So why didn’t I toss it?
Because that string runs through my life.
The Reflect on Your Path project is the very last one you do in a path. You can’t open it until you finish all the levels.
It’s actually a very simple project. Look back, talk about it for 10 to 12 minutes, and you’re done. It should be easy.
This is a great time for you to pull together all the skills you’ve been working on. All of the presentation skills. All of the speech organization tips you’ve learned from our training and you’ve learned watching others.
This speech is the string of your Toastmasters experience – and we are asked to share it with others.
In that way, you could look at as an inspirational speech. Sharing your experience to help others get a vision for the potential that Toastmasters has to offer them.
This inspiration can apply to yourself, too.
What do you want to do next? Is it time to set a new goal for your life? What new opportunities opened up for you because of what you learned from Toastmasters?
This kind of reflection doesn’t just inspire others – you can inspire yourself. What’s next? What path do you want to pick next?
Picking a second pathway seems pretty easy – after all, you’ve done it before, right?
It should be easier. When Toastmasters Pathways was first released, there was the assessment. Everyone was required to take it, regardless of what research the Toastmaster had already completed and decision they had made. Toastmasters did make that change – now we can skip the assessment and go directly to the selection page on the website.
That’s what I just did. As I’m recording this in October, 2020, the announcement has been made bv Toastmasters International that if you paid your dues that were due on October 1, 2020, or pay them before December 31, 2020, you will get a free Pathway. This offer is only good for Toastmasters who were members before October 1, 2020. New members will only get one path when they join.
New Paths to Retain Members
Trying to retain members in a pandemic is smart. When so many of us spend the day online in meetings, thinking about another online meeting for Toastmasters can be just one too many. Our mental bandwidth may not be as wide as our Internet bandwidth.
I see this in my club. Our attendance is down right now. We struggle to get people online for an hour. What should we do?
Like the Reflect on Your Path, I think we need to reflect on our club. What value are we giving to our members? We can say we’re helping them to learn how to handle themselves in an online environment in their professional or career meetings… but it’s been 6 months. I think we probably need to come up with better reasons to come to our online meetings.
Here in Ohio, I think we’re going to see most clubs continue to meet online for the remainder of the year and probably well into next year. How do we market an online club? How do we bring people to the table… er… the screen?
The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Speech
Last week, one of our members, Joy, was giving a speech about an unexpected social event that she attended. Joy had worked on this speech extensively and had apparently mentioned this to a friend of hers.
What was the most obvious thing that Joy could do? She invited her friend to join us for the meeting to watch Joy make us all squirm with a masterful telling of a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was one of those speeches that I think we needed to unmute our microphones so she could hear our reactions because I was howling in laughter. Joy’s friend came and I think she might come back. It was a great meeting and I think she enjoyed herself.
Now, more than ever, we need the personal contacts as we, in the northern hemisphere, move into winter. With the pandemic… there’s so much more fear in being in proximity to each other, but we need the contact so much more.
So this is my challenge to you this week. Sign up for a speech in your club for the next open slot. Go to the Level 3 speech presentation skills and pick one that is a basic skill, like Connect with Storytelling, Using Descriptive Language, Understanding Vocal Variety or Effective Body Language. You have a story in your life – I know you do – that is so embarrassing, or so silly, or so I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Happening – and prepare a speech telling that story. Go for the humor, go for the silly, maybe even go for the gross, out of this world story and tell it to your club. Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it and give a straight speech. Nope this is the time to step out and get crazy – and then, this is key.
Invite someone who you know – who you might never have thought of inviting to a meeting – to come and watch you give this speech. I’m going to get crazy with a speech very soon and I will invite someone to join me for this speech.
You do the same thing! Find a story to tell and invite someone to come listen to you present it at the meeting. At the very least, you’re going to make sure that the troublemakers in the club – you know who I’m talking about – the ones who sit next to each other and get silly – the troublemakers will behave themselves. A new face does perk up the club, especially if they participate in Table Topics!
Marketing? Or Connections?
I don’t believe it’s about marketing right now. Is anyone looking for another hour online? I don’t think so. But we are all looking for connections and that’s what you can give someone. Connections.
It’s not silly that I’m still connected to a ball of string and a sled. But really, I’m more connected to the people I associate with those things. That’s why it’s not time for me to give up that sled or that string. It’s not time for us to give up on our connections in and out of Toastmasters.
I just thought of who I’m going to invite. Who are you going to invite? What story are you going to tell?
You can make the connection and Toastmasters can be the virtual coffeeshop that lets you do it!
“Scheming Weasel (faster version)” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License