Shape up for Pathways Excellence

A positive approach!

Pathways is our Educational system and it provides opportunities and challenges for the experienced and new Toastmasters. I believe that a majority of clubs in Australia have embraced Pathways well and are steaming ahead. We are ensuring that each District has a Pathways ‘leader’ to help promote and support Pathways experiences, and in my District we schedule monthly Pathways focussed online workshops.

How is your District travelling? Do you still have some clubs who are reluctant participants in the Pathways program? Do you need some help in motivating them?

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This blog post will focus on ‘How you can shape up your members and create more Pathways Stars?’

Step 1: Check your Pathways Adoption Rates!

You can do this by accessing the data calculated by Toastmasters International in this Pathways Adoption Rates tool. Select your District and then filter on Division and Area to find your specific data. This will give you a base line from which you can plan for further Pathways adoption in your club.  For example here are the results for my Area N29 in D73:
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adoption rates n29

As you begin the process Pathways Mentoring you can then drill down into the details of progress for each of your members:

Step 2: Challenge your members to plan ahead for speaking opportunities!

At the base level of any Toastmasters club is the club meeting in which we provide opportunities for our speakers to practice, grow and develop their speaking and evaluating skills. Speaking is still the core competence of the Pathways Education Program! However, in some Districts it seems that Toastmasters are unhappy with Pathways.

Here is a summary of what I learned from Trish Blackwelder’s stellar presentation for the Tuesday Talks n’ Tips sessions for Pathways.  Here is the full length presentation.

Trish B is the D3 Pathways Chair in Phoenix, Arizona and has completed her Distinguished Toastmaster award (DTM) five times in the Legacy program.

Trish B sets out to unpack the following questions that she hears often from those Toastmasters who are unhappy with Pathways.

Why did we need to change?
Her first response is to emphasise the need for change – an evolution in the effectiveness of the Toastmasters Educational program for the 21st century. Trish suggests that we also guide our members to those things that are still in our Toastmasters program and are familiar to us. For example the five core competencies: Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Strategic Leadership, Management & Confidence.

Pathways Leader at D18, Karen Storey, DTM, displays these core competencies at her website for Pathways.

Trish B emphasises the need to share an overview of the alignment of each Path in relation to the emphasis on these core competencies. This useful Pathways_Assist_PathsByCoreEmphasis document gives the alignment at a glance.

Lead Pathways Guide at D62, Lori Haynes DTM, provides this useful one page flier displaying a list of all Paths.
D62-Pathways-Short-Path-Description-2.13.19-1

Trish B suggests that new and existing Toastmasters alike will benefit from an opening conversation about their aspirations and reasons for joining Toastmasters culminating in a strong recommendation for the specific Path that will suit them best.

George Marshall provided a very useful set of slides ‘How to Pick a Path’ to help all Toastmasters understand which Paths focus on Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication and which ones focus on Leadership both Strategic and Managerial.) How-to-Pick-a-Path-3-SSTM-by-George-Marshall 

Why do I need to repeat the projects in Levels 1 and 2 for each Path?
Trish B reiterates the preference of some Toastmasters for the projects from the Competent Communicator manual- their sequential skill building focus being ideal for new speakers. Trish B reminds us that Nine of the Ten base level skills for Public Speaking are incorporated in each of the Paths in Pathways and are presented at different levels in the Paths.

Note: the tenth project from the CC manual, ‘Persuasive Speaking’ is only included in the Presentation Mastery Path.

Trish B offers a great tip for enthusing Toastmasters on the value of repeating the Icebreaker speech, as an example of how we can analyse the growth in our own speaking skills. She says: “the Icebreaker from my first CC manual was nothing like the Icebreaker I completed in my 17th CC manual”. Trish B suggests that a seasoned Toastmaster can be more innovative in their later Icebreakers to reveal more information about themselves.

To ‘spice things up a little’, Trish B also recommends that repeating a Path can bring out new opportunities to stretch the skills of Public Speaking or Leadership, by selecting different electives in the second or third time round a Path.

Lori Haynes, Lead Pathways Guide at District 62 provides this neat one page flier displaying a list of all electives at Levels 3, 4 and 5.
D62 Pathways – Elective Projects 2.13.19

Step 3: Encourage your members to plan ahead for Leadership Projects!

Rose Oosthuysen DTM from D112, and VP Membership for Ablaze Advanced Online Club, provides this summary of 10 essential leadership skills and matches them with a selection of Pathways projects.

  1. Communication skills are essential at all levels of leadership; Understand Your Communication Style project Level 2 in all Paths; Active Listening project Level 2 (Motivational Strategies) Develop a Communication Plan project (Visionary Communication) and 3 electives;
  2. Motivation skills are vital for team work; Persuasive Speaking Level 3 (Presentation Mastery); Motivate Others Level 4 (Team Collaboration) projects
  3. Delegating skills include accepting feedback from employees; Reaching Consensus project Level 3 (Effective Coaching); Making Connections through Networking Level 3 (Strategic Relationships)
  4. Positivity is needed for conflict management; Understanding Conflict Resolution project Level 3 (Persuasive Influence); Focus on the Positive elective (all Paths)
  5. Trustworthiness requires emotional intelligence, Understanding Emotional intelligence project Level 2 (Motivational Strategies); and Leading in Your Volunteer Organisation project Level 5 (Strategic Relationships)
  6. Creativity requires vision, Develop Your Vision project Level 5, (Visionary Communication);  and the ability to use effective visual aids in presentations; Creating Effective Visual Aids Level 3 Elective in all Paths.
  7. Feedback we learn to give and receive feedback in all paths;  Evaluation and Feedback projects, Level 2 in all paths;
  8. Responsibility requires us to reflect on our actions Level 5 in all paths Reflect on your Path;  provide positive coaching, Improvement Through Positive Coaching project Level 4 (Effective Coaching) and Manage Projects Successfully project Level 4 (Innovative Planning)
  9. Commitment requires us to be a team player Leading Your Team level 4 (Leadership Development); and a leader High Performance Leadership Level 5 (Effective Coaching)
  10. Flexibility requires negotiating skills,  Negotiate the Best Outcome Level 3 (Dynamic Leadership);  and Manage Change project Level 4 (Dynamic Leadership) and Lead in Any Situation Level 5 (Dynamic Leadership).

Do you need a full copy of all Pathways Path and Project Catalog, make use of this resource from George Marshall, DTM, Chief Pathways Guide at D57. George also provides this PowerPoint Presentation: How-to-Pick-a-Path-3-SSTM-by-George-Marshall

Step 4: Share rich resources with members

Toastmasters International Magazine is a rich source of resources. Some like to read their print version and others gain further insights by reading the online articles.
‘Welcome to Pathways 101’ – an online article for August 2019 written by Paul Sterman (Senior Editor)  is an ideal resource to share with your members. Just send the link in an email.

In this article there are fantastic resources to whet your appetite, convince you, persuade you and provide real world examples of the benefits of the Toastmasters Pathways Program. In this video interview Mark Snow, DTM, D69 Club Growth Director, focusses on the benefits of Pathways Leadership projects for his workplace projects.

Mark provides the Pathways-Companion-Guide-V2 to help all Toastmasters on their way in their chosen Path.

There are many other fantastic resources created by passionate Pathways leaders from across the world to make your task of motivating other Pathways Champions easy. Consider this collection of documents for recording achievements in each Path:

Pathways_Assist_PathProgressSheets-JulieDall from Julie Dall, D3, and the pathways_level_completion_checklist

If you can motivate just one member in Pathways, you can build your club adoption rates and ensure that your club is in good shape for Pathways excellence!

Come on over to the Pathways Discussion Forum where you can:

  • post your Pathways motivational strategies
  • ask questions about your Path (and specific projects)
  • catch up with the archives of all Tuesday Talks n’ Tips workshops (recordings and shared resources)

Note: My latest slides on Shape Up with Pathways Excellence are available here:
Shape Up Presentation 080919