News and How-tos

Adventures in Toastmasters: On a Roll

Children rolling snowballs, from archived book from 1918This may be my last blog post with an update about my Toastmasters Adventure because I will be shifting my focus to other learning opportunities, such as the Lean Training I am beginning in January. I will be continuing with Toastmaster for a while yet, but I have other exciting adventures on the horizon I would like to focus on.

When I last wrote about my Adventures in Toastmasters in June, I shared my goal to have earned my Competent Communicator Award and Competent Leader Award by the end of 2015. Well, the end of 2015 is fast approaching, so where am I with that goal?

As you might assume by the title of this article, I am on a roll. Not only did I complete my 10 speeches from the Competent Communication manual and work through the projects in the Competent Leadership manual, I am about halfway through earning my Advanced Leader Bronze! How did that happen?

Advanced Leader Bronze

As it turns out, it happened quite naturally. I often find myself taking on leadership roles without necessarily seeing how they fit into later goals right away. As I reported in my last article, I was elected Vice President Public Relations of my club. As of the end of December 2015, I will have served (in an official capacity) as the VP Public Relations for the minimum 6-months required to earn the Advanced Leader Bronze.

However, because the International Toastmasters Leadership Training I attended occurred before my “official” tenure as VP Public Relations, I will need to attend the upcoming Leadership Training in January, while continuing to serve as VP Public Relations, to count it towards one of the requirements for earning the Advanced Leader Bronze.

Other than that, there are only 3 requirements left for me to earn the Advanced Leader Bronze, and I completed one of them last Tuesday: giving a presentation from The Leadership Excellence Series. I presented on Goal Setting and Planning, one of my favorite topics.

Goal Setting and Planning, Leslie-Style

In the meantime, I created a nifty Excel workbook to track the projects for each of the Toastmasters levels. It took me a few hours to put together (at least), and when I put that much time into something, I really like to share it. Somehow it seems wrong to put that much work into something for it to only be used by one person. For that reason, I cleared out the data from my own project achievements and turned it into an empty tracker for anyone else to use.

target with arrows in in center circlesI will say, if you get overwhelmed by looking at how far you have to go, this may not be the goal tracker for you. However, if you are at a place in your Toastmasters journey where you want to see where you are and what is ahead for you, this tracker might be rather helpful. I will also mention that because I have not reached the higher levels yet, they may be lacking some details of sub-projects that need to be accomplished.

If you are at a particular level and see missing elements, I’d happily incorporate them if you send me a message. Bonus points if you make an attempt to update the Excel file yourself and send it to me so that I can share the updated trajectory with everyone else.

Here is the file as it currently stands: Toastmasters Trajectory Template. As you’ll see, it opens on an Overview of the different levels, which are color-coded. Then, if you tab over to the other spreadsheets, you will see them broken out by Basic Level (CC & CL), Bronze Specifics, Silver Specifics, and Gold Specifics.

I hope this is helpful to some of you. Feel free to modify to your needs, share with anyone who might find it useful, and let me know what you think. Please point people to my website in case there is an updated version. It also helps them to know who to contact if they want to make suggestions for improvements.

And Now, Back to the Update

Okay, okay, I will get back to telling you about earning my CC (Competent Communicator) and CL (Competent Leader) awards. As you can probably tell, I was super excited about my trajectory template and skipped right over talking about everything else.

However, I am learning the importance of celebrating successes accomplished before running forward onto the next goal. For me, that is a super hard lesson and a skill/habit that will take a lot of practice to do more naturally. I see others with the same problem and I’d like to help them work on celebrating accomplishments and successes as well, which means I have to figure out how to do it myself!

Celebratory Toast

I completed my last speech for the Competent Communication manual on Dec 1, 2015. Speeches 8-10 were hard to squeeze in with everything else going on, but I did it. My titles were “Embracing the ‘F’ Word” (F Word = Failure), “Tricks AND Treats” (why the circus is better than Halloween), and “Choosing Your Present” (as in the present moment, not the type that you might have under a tree right now).

I am definitely having fun with unusual speech topics and ways of looking at things. I am excited to have completed the 10th speech, which I presented as a Choose Your Own Adventure analogy. It was my first venture into presenting information to a group in the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure story. It certainly will not be the last (this, my friends, is a bit of foreshadowing of future projects to come).

The Competent Leadership manual wrap-up included Chairing a Membership Campaign that culminated in a Halloween Costume Party and Open House for our club. It was great fun! We provided snacks and costumes for members and guests to wear during the meeting, and one of our members told a spooky story from the perspective of her son (while dressed in her son’s clothes).

It was one of my favorite meetings and I hope we can make it a regular event. The best part for me was that people were so willing to dress up in costumes. That was definitely the icing on the spooky cake for me.

What Does That Mean?

I turned my applications for the CC Award and the CL Award in to the Vice President Education to sign and pass along to Toastmasters International.

In addition, as I said earlier in this article, I am already halfway through earning the Advanced Leader Bronze, so I will continue on with that by attending the next Toastmasters International Leadership Institute and helping my club develop and work towards a Club Success Plan. I have already decided what my second presentation from The Leadership Excellence Series will be: Delegate to Empower. With that in mind, I may be able to complete the Advanced Leader Bronze by the end of this Toastmasters fiscal year: June 30, 2016.

Then, when I receive my next set of Advanced Communication manuals, I can begin working on the Advanced Communicator Bronze.

And then…

We shall see if I decide to continue on to Silver, Gold, and finally DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster). I am undecided. However, I have a nifty Toastmasters Trajectory Template to get me there if I decide to continue on that far.

Interested in Beginning Your Own Toastmasters Adventure?

Hot Air Balloon AdventureIf you are interested in exploring Toastmasters for yourself, you can check here to find a club near you.

If you want help navigating Toastmasters or help creating a strategy for earning those Competent Communicator, Competent Leader, or even Advanced level awards, feel free to contact me. To be clear, this is not a business service that I charge for; it’s a personal desire to be supportive.

Please also feel free to use and modify the trajectory template linked earlier in this article.

Enjoy!

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