Recently I read about the Top Ten Tools for 2018 from Jane Hart at CLP. This triggered a reaction from me – one that I could fit into the puzzle for alleviating some of the difficulty for Toastmasters to begin their online learning journey.
We make an assumption that all Toastmasters are equally comfortable in online learning or in fact their use of computer technology. This is NOT as I know it. Each of the Toastmasters I know have a variety of skills in using their computers and mobile devices. Some of the questions that we are often asked, as Pathways Guides, indicate that some of their difficulties in Base Camp are related to management of their computer environment.
With that in mind I began to think about how to provide meaningful support for our Toastmasters who need technology coaching rather than Pathways Guidance. Over in the D73 Facebook group I setup a Poll to find out what members needed most help with. One of the options I chose was Where to go to find help when you need it?
A short video on ‘where to go to find help on Pathways’ would be useful!
I think that YouTube and Google Drive would feature in that tutorial for accessing self-help with video tutorials and documents. In it we could include how to locate a selection of the video tutorials and documents stored in the Tutorials and Resources library at Base Camp.
Let’s look at the Ten Top Tools and determine which ones will assist us with self-managed anytime online learning. Note: I plan to unpack my own selection of these in separate posts. Today I will focus on YouTube and Google Drive.
This free personal publishing tool has the reputation of being the most popular tool because of its educational, entertaining and useful content. Yes there are useful videos there on Pathways. Enter YouTube and search for Toastmasters Pathways Tutorials and you will find a plethora of them. These can be accessed in any device and you do not need to have an account there.
Help is available as a search field (in a pop-up window) and you can Subscribe to a Channel from any of the Toastmasters sites in YouTube. I recommend the D7 Toastmasters Channel and its Playlist for Pathways tutorials.
If you have a YouTube account you can create your own Playlists by adding them from your favourite Channels. Use the YouTube Help tool and search for instructions on Adding Videos to Playlist.
This free cloud based document sharing space has the reputation of being the most popular tool for storing and sharing documents among small or large groups of people. This tool gives you the flexibility of creating a shared space for your Pathways documents for District or Club – an easy to access repository of useful resources.
You can navigate between your own folders and documents or those shared with you. Here is an example of a shared Google Drive folder of the Paths and Evaluations in Pathways, resources from Shilpa Reddy and another example of the Pathways Starter Kit from Mark Snow
Another example of a shared folder in Google Drive is this one from Roger Fung containing all the Evaluation Forms, in numerical order, for each project in Pathways.
Tutorials and Resources Library at Base Camp
And now for the specific help that is available in the Base Camp library! Did you know that you can browse for Specific Training and select from these three options: Online Class, Curriculum and Materials.
Online Class: includes all of the training needed for navigating in Base Camp – these require you to Launch Curriculum: includes any of the special programs you have accessed such as Toastmasters Mentoring Program Materials: includes all of the downloadable items such as Evaluation Resources
This could be the basis for a prepared online video tutorial by itself. There is so much more to learn about the intricacies of Base Camp.
Online Tutorials for Everything
For those who need more basic help in the use of their Computer there is a wealth of tutorials at GCF Global.
It began for me, about a year ago. The PQD for District 73 sent out an invitation to Toastmasters who wanted to be Pathways Guides for clubs in areas close to them. Now, my location, spans two Districts – 70 on the NSW side of the border and 73 on the Victorian side of the Murray River. Clubs in Areas Monaro 34 and Northern 29 were all familiar to me – I had been an Area Director in both – and I felt sure that I could continue to support them all.
Eight to Ten clubs were to be supported for recognition as a Guide over a six month period – from September 2017 to February 2018, and rollout for us in Region 12 was scheduled for December 5.
Brick Wall 1: 18 Tasks
As a Pathways Guide I was required to jump over a number of hurdles in gaining completion of my online learning modules. This was a strange an unfamiliar process and one that did not sit right with me from the start; I knew that reading a plethora of 18 online resources did not constitute effective training for me. Where was the opportunity to practice meaningfully before launching into my role as a Guide? Everything was lock step – that is – each component in the learning modules needed to be completed in sequence.
I persevered, knowing that this was my path to becoming a Guide and achieving another award towards my third DTM.
Brick Wall 2: No Entry
I felt like I was leading in the dark for those early months – without yet having access to Base Camp before rollout I relied on my colleagues who had experience already. There were a few of my international Toastmaster friends who had taken the plunge and joined clubs (in districts where rollout had commenced) as virtual members. They were my targetted support team – I could go to them and ask for help.
Julie Kertesz in District 91 in the UK was one of the first to ‘showcase’ her Path Projects in Base Camp. A snapshot that gave me the insight I needed to feel confident in my support for others. Thanks Julie.
Break Through 1: One Path Complete
Once rollout commenced, I was poised and ready to select my Path. I had done my homework and determined what was the best Path to start with. I chose Effective Coaching, even though the Base Camp system had suggested Strategic Relationships. I put that one aside to do next.
I thought that Effective Coaching projects best suited my planned goals and projects for the first half of 2018. It felt really great as I completed each project and proceeded to the next in Base Camp. Each new project opened up more possibilities for me to grow.
Completion of my first level was cause for a celebration and I was happy to download my first Level Completion Certificate.As each level was completed I was learning new skills and expanding my leadership horizons – the experience of those first six months was exhilarating. It felt like I was on the top of the mountain looking back on the pathway I had successfully traveled.
Brick Wall 3: Guiding Others
Nine months had passed since I first embarked on my Pathways journey! I had written about my experiences in my blog posts – each of the initial posts was designed to complete my first elective: Write a Compelling Blog. I used a story structure to tell of my adventures, just like the hero in the Hero’s Journey.
My story was told in 12 chapters and they seemed to write themselves as I contemplated what it felt like in enthusing others about Pathways. This was a tough part of the journey as it was TOO EARLY for many Toastmasters in Region 12 to give much thought to their Pathways. Summer holidays and the start of a new season of meetings took precedence over anything in Pathways.
My High Performance Level project was to build and steer a team of Online Pathways Guides in providing support for club executives from over 160 undistricted clubs across the world. Wow – that was the most stunning achievement for me – and a real bonus to work alongside many skilled Toastmasters from many Districts. On completion of my first path, Effective Coaching, I posted my thoughts on reflection in Follow the Yellow Brick Road post.
Break Through 2: Support for Base Camp Managers
The next part of the journey for me was closer to home as we determined the needs of clubs in our District 73 – especially after the election of new club executives – and in particular how to support the Base Camp Managers.
At the same time leaders in District 70 had begun to build a D70 Team Pathways and I had been invited to participate. This gave me the inspiration to begin D73 Team Pathways. By leading this team as Pathways Coordinator, I could fulfil another required project for my second Path, Strategic Relationships. Team Building was easy as the process was endorsed by the District leaders, and a team of six began to meet and discuss the different ways we could support new Pathways champions across the states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Simultaneously, the Pathways Discussion Forum was launched – managed by Michelle Alba-Lim from District 7 – supported by skilled Pathways champions from around the world. This forum opened up a whole new community of collaborative and cooperative learning opportunities. New learning and new activities (using the latest Facebook tools of Mentorship) has added value to what can be done in supporting large numbers of Toastmasters across the globe.
The journey does not end here! My third Path, Visionary Communication, is taking me to new heights in inspiring and facilitating my land-based clubs. For them I am seeking new ways of building membership (virtual attendance) and new ways of conducting executive committee meetings (online meetings).
The Region 12 Base Camp Managers community in Facebook has begun to provide much needed assistance for BCMs who are new to their roles and the tasks required of them in Base Camp. This community has potential for growth and influence, and will be a feature of the responsibilities of the D69, D70 and D73 Team Pathways.
Most of the Toastmasters I know, need to feel confident in Base Camp and require some help and resources along the way. When they begin their Path they need to know these things whilst working in Level 1:
Note: Those Toastmasters who are not yet in Pathways can access all the Evaluation forms and still evaluate those delivering speeches from their Path Projects.
By the time they reach Level 2 their understanding of Base Camp has improved and they are more confident in navigating their online lessons for each project, downloading the project resources and how to complete a level. At this stage their needs change and they will seek assistance with:
At Level 3 the Toastmaster is comfortable with the resources available at Base Camp and is seeking knowledge about the Elective projects available. At this stage their needs change again and they will often seek help with:
At Level 4 the Toastmaster has gained valuable experience in their speeches and in leadership projects where relevant to their Path. The projects are often more complex and require greater depth of understanding. Their needs are now at a higher level and they often seek confirmation of their goals and ability to achieve. Questions from those at level 4 will change to those that seek more collaborative learning opportunities:
How do I choose the next elective strategically to fit my chosen goal
At Level 5 the Toastmaster is able to demonstrate expertise in speaking and leadership projects and is ready to take on the Distinguished Toastmaster Project. They are more independent and need less mentoring and help in their journey. These are the people who often seek to mentor others in Pathways. Their questions are often about:
How do I select a protege to mentor for six months
How do I select a relevant six month project for my DTM project
Once the Toastmaster has reached DTM status in Pathways they have achieved the highest award that the program provides. What do they need? What are the next steps for them? Their questions are more likely to be:
How can I give back to the Toastmaster community eg in a District role
How can I leverage my achievements as a DTM for my life journey
So many Toastmasters have already successfully given back to the Toastmaster community through social media and shared documentation that it has become necessary to collate these in the one space. Try accessing this Google Document, shared by Heather Turner, for further links to shared resources. Some District websites provide neatly collated resources and tutorials for you. See D69 website as an example.
Finally if you are seeking a personal mentor to help with your Path, please plan to join the Mentorship program at the Pathways Discussion Forum where over 7000 Toastmasters are collaborating right now.
This is the most comprehensive collaborative Pathways specific forum you can choose for self-help.
Remember to add specific answers to the questions for the administrators to approve your membership.
Are you a President, VP Education or Secretary for your Toastmaster club this year?
Did you know that with these roles comes the added responsibility of being a Base Camp Manager?
Do you know what your Base Camp Manager tasks are?
When I became a Pathways Guide, I realized that Base Camp Managers were going to require ongoing support for integrating Pathways into their clubs. This is a new task and one that they may not yet have received training for. Team Pathways in your Districts can help with that! Seek out your Pathways Coordinators and find out what the District has in place for your support this year.
What to do next?
Why not consider these strategies for keeping it basic in Pathways.
Many Toastmaster members of your clubs are embarking on new journeys into the Pathways education system and need your help in supporting their progress. You will be required to help them understand what they will encounter and what steps they need to take. You will need a Base Camp Management team.
Base Camp Management Team:
(VPE, Sec, Pres, VPM and Mentors)
Here’s some suggestions for what the BCM team can do?
Provide clear explanations of the Pathways program and how their online activities supplement their in club experiences. My diagram above displays a typical workflow for what the Toastmaster will do in Base Camp and at Meetings. This is a simple way to introduce Pathways to your new club members: as a slide, as whiteboard notes or as a verbal explanation.
Collate materials for your New Member Pack and keep it simple!
Collaborate and share the tasks of supporting new club members as a team of Base Camp Managers and Executives. Determine tasks that can be part of each executive’s role, rather than expecting the VPE to do everything.
Keep the club members up-to-date with member progress in their Paths and report level completions to the President.
Provide short Pathways training sessions for individuals or all club members as educationals.
Request to join a specific Base Camp Managers social media group where relevant.
Now consider how specific roles can be delegated to specific BCM team members! Include these in your Club Officer pack.
Secretary (BCM role)
Download a copy of The Navigator as a PDF document and provide some printed copies for those new members. These can be made available at meetings as part of the induction of new members by President.
Apply for Level Completion Awards at Club Central!
Help the member print their Certificates from Base Camp. See the Tutorials and Resources library for help with these.
Point out some of the basics of club membership and direct their attention to pages 5, 6 and 7 of The Navigator as a starting point. These pages are of particular interest to new members as they describe the
Work with the VPE on updating records of individuals achievements in Pathways. eg use of the Communication Charts in easy-Speak.
VP Education (BCM role)
Focus on introducing the Pathways education program outline using pages 9, 10 and 11 of The Navigator. These pages describe the learning experience and how it works.
The Ten Paths are described briefly and the five levels are examined giving the Toastmaster a broad overview of their ‘journey of possibilities’.
Schedule speeches as required for members to complete their Pathways projects.
Show how to navigate in Base Camp; launch and complete a project; and how to complete a level. Finally verify level completions as they are notified.
Establish a Club Mentoring Team and elect a leader.
Mentor Team Leader
The leader of a Club Mentoring Team can then:
ensure that new members have access to the support of mentors from within the club
encourage existing members of clubs to become Mentors;
help them select the Toastmasters Mentoring Project once they have finished Level 2 in a Path
provide Mentor Survival Packs (Navigator, Path Guides and Mentorship documents)
help the Mentors to use The Navigator to help the Proteges.Optional:
Lead individual mentors to the Pathways Discussion Forum Mentorship facility. Note: They will need to answer some entry questions to gain access. Then you will be able to opt in as a Mentor or Protege to this voluntary Pathways Mentorship program facilitated by Facebook. Mentors could use this service alongside their formal Toastmasters Mentoring Program.
Help the new member to understand the steps required as they embark on the Pathways journey.
Complete your Levels 1 and 2 in your Path and elect to complete the Toastmasters Mentoring Program
Help the new member consider the content of each Path before they go online to choose one.
Help them step through the self-assessment questions and consider the recommended Path.
With some further explanations of what is involved with each Path the Mentor can help steer the member towards the right Path for them.
President (BCM Duties)
Be a role model for the club members and Choose a Path! Establish a Mentor relationship for yourself with another experienced Toastmaster eg Immediate Past President. Set a goal to complete your first two levels during the first six months in officer as President.
Emphasize the Toastmasters Journey with this quote from page 3 of the Navigator as you perform a new member induction.
Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with a single speech. Now that you’re a member, you will prepare and deliver speeches at club meetings based on the projects in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience.
Guide the executive teams, Base Camp Management team and invite Mentoring team leader to contribute to your executive meetings.
Check that the email address listed for your club is correct at TMI (Note: check that in the Club Contact and Meeting Information in Club Central.) If this is your email, ensure you Forward emails from TMI about level completions promptly to your VPE and Secretary.
Check in with the Secretary and VPE on completion levels and awards to be announced at meetings.
Establish rapport with your Club Mentoring Team leader and enable them to provide feedback about protege progress at convenient club business segments in meetings.
What are your strategies for supporting the Base Camp Managers in your Toastmasters clubs?
Toastmasters, what do YOU do when you are building a new team? And what are YOUR strategies for team success?
Here are my three lessons for successful team building:
effective timing, strategic networking, and visionary planning.
Building teams requires effective timing!
One year ago, I was about to launch myself into the realms of Pathways as a Guide. The purpose was to support 8-10 clubs in preparing for Pathways. This was the start of new experiences as a leader and I was determined to grow my own skills – the soft skills in communicating with Toastmasters I was yet to meet. I was comfortable with my own clubs and the company of my Club members and do have a reputation for coaching. However, I was also feeling dis-empowered as Pathways Guides back then, were not yet fully immersed in Base Camp. The experience of leading back then was like evangelism, attempting to enthuse the clubs about a new system that I had NO practical experience with. My leadership had to rely on the trust of the people I was leading.
Timing of my work as a Pathways Guide was ‘off kilter’ by about three months – the real work of supporting clubs in my districts became more effective at the beginning of 2018 when the impact of Pathways roll out was being felt. The early club visits prior to roll out were NOT effective in building teams, the later virtual support sessions were.
Growth of trust with this new group was the first important lesson learned for my new leadership style. AND Building trust among the Pathways champions within the clubs was an integral strategy towards their empowerment.
Building teams requires strategic networking!
Six months ago, I was immersed in building a new team of Pathways Guides who were to support the 150 clubs in District U. Little did I know then just how important this team was to be AND how important the networking was to be. The first step was to build a steering committee and to include direct liaison with WHQ. George Marshall and I each recommended another member and then we were four. Each of the four recommended candidates for the larger team and then we were 32. The process of identifying, inviting, short listing and selecting online Pathways Guides was a collaborative effort using online collaborative tools like Google docs and sheets to share our project plans.
Building a network of communication strategies with this new team was an integral strategy toward their empowerment. Each of the four was to lead groups of eight and to collaborate with the teams to ensure that all 32 were informed, empowered, and valued.
Social media, regular Guide Support Sessions online and centralized email were employed for consistent communication and support of the teams.
There were some unexpected challenges in this project: lack of contact with clubs, some clubs folding and new ones forming, difficulty in scheduling effective meeting times in different time zones, and life issues for one or two guides. It was the networking that provided the solutions for each of these challenges and strengthened the comradery among the team. Guides stepped up to fill gaps and go the extra mile in the collaborative spirit of an international team with strong ethics.
Building a team requires visionary planning!
Just one month ago I began to form a new team called D73 Team Pathways. My vision for D73 success in integrating Pathways was built on the experiences in the other two projects. This new team is required to support the new executives in the 350 clubs across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania during the transition period.
Firstly, we will work with the District trio to support the ongoing efforts of Team Pathways – going beyond the Pathways Guides model – embedding pathways integration through support of the Base Camp Managers. This group (mostly new executives elected at changeover in June/July) now needed ongoing support in providing services to all members of all 350 clubs in the district.
Secondly, we will work on providing a framework for building a larger team – ensuring that at least one person in each club was empowered to support club members throughout the transition period. Team pathways will support this larger team with monthly webinars for the BCMs, scheduled as two separate events – giving choices, for weekend or weeknight.
Thirdly, we will work in collaboration with D70 to build a framework for support across Region 12. Keeping the vision clearly in view – our success in integrating Pathways – we can utilise strategies to empower, communicate and collaborate. For example: Region 12 Base Camp Managers discussion forum was initiated.
I have learned that “before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you are a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch
Growing others requires effective timing, strategic networking, and visionary planning.
Congratulations if you have chosen your Path at Base Camp. You may already be well on the way to completing your first level and happily planning your speeches. The five levels in a Path provide you with sequential development of skills, aptitudes and competencies. This month’s post will focus on:
Level 1: Mastering Fundamentals
What are the fundamentals?
Creating a speech outline, delivering a speech, listening to feedback, researching a topic, giving feedback and practicing your leadership skills.
Each of these are learned in Level One on Base Camp and provide you with instructions on how to request speaking opportunities in your club meetings.
Level 1 requires you to complete four speeches and one evaluation and to do this you will need to:
access your Path transcript and open the curriculum
view each online lesson and download the project checklist, project description and evaluation resource (note: store those in your own computer folders for your Path)
finish each project by completing the online self-assessments (note: be sure to complete both the Before and After surveys)
schedule the required speeches with the VPE(s) of your club(s)
deliver the speeches and have them evaluated (note: simply completing the online lessons does not constitute completion of the project – you are required to give speeches)
continue with each subsequent project and note the requirements (as above)
notify your VPE(s) when your level is completed (note: simply waiting for the system to notify the Base Camp manager (VPE) may be insufficient – send an email to your VPE and send copies of the Evaluations completed for all projects to verify completion)
Steps for Success
Your steps for success in Pathways may include some or all of the following activities: mentoring, self-help, further research, planning ahead and networking.
Get help from a mentor in your home club or seek a mentor from the Toastmasters Pathways Forum: Mentorship Program. Preferably a Toastmaster with experience and/or a person who has completed Levels 1 and 2 and/or the Toastmasters Mentoring program.
Your mentor can provide support for your selection of speech topics, creating the speech outline, methods of delivery and ways to incorporate feedback.
The mentor may also provide advice on how to plan ahead for other levels in your Path, technical assistance for navigational issues in Base Camp, and completion of your projects and levels.
Read the Navigator!
This document provides you with a clear overview of expectations at club meetings and how to navigate in Base Camp. Available in Base Camp as both a downloadable PDF and an online version.
Access and download any of the self-help resources you need from the Base Camp Tutorials library, as PDFs from the Tutorials, in a language of your choice from Base Camp at Toastmasters International. eg: Quick Reference Guides
Further Research Depending on your personal learning style, the blog posts or YouTube videos from fellow Toastmasters may be useful for your further research.
Access the Blog of Pathways Champion Julie Kertesz; many helpful hints for those beginning their Pathways Experience. Search for other blogs!
Further short videos on all the tasks involved at Base Camp are provided here: TI Pathways
Now you can plan ahead for completing the projects in Level One Mastering Fundamentals and earn your first Level Completion Certificate!
You can access a copy of this Tracking Spreadsheet by clicking on the Path Planner Template V2. The sheet contains a sheet for each of the ten paths.
Attend additional Pathways workshops at Club Leadership Training events and any online education sessions provided by your District as scheduled. Talk Up Pathways in your own social media. Join the Pathways Discussion Forum in Facebook.
I am about to embark on a new project ‘Lead in your Volunteer Organisation’ from the Strategic Relationships Path. This idea sprang to mind when I became a member of the D70 Team Pathways recently. As I had recently been assigned the role of D73 Pathways Coordinator, the idea of how Pathways Coordination could work in a District, during the transition period to June 2019, was beginning to emerge!
Thinking this through, I believe that this was the perfect way to achieve the completion of the six month project in my second Path, Strategic Relationships and provide a structured support system.
D73 Team Pathways
What better way to lead in a volunteer organisation – initiate, lead and maintain D73 Team Pathways.
This is the final required project in Level 5 to complete my second Path.
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to apply the skills needed to successfully lead in a volunteer organization.
Overview: Serve in a leadership role in Toastmasters or another volunteer organization for at least six months.
D73 Team Pathways supports Integration of Pathways.
My task will be to lead the D73 Team Pathways to assist in the successful Integration of Pathways. Together we will identify the support required for Pathways Integration in our clubs and provide assistance in various forms.
At the beginning of this project I provided an overview of the likely tasks to Support Pathways Integration as a presentation at the D73 District Officer Training and asked for volunteers. Already we have a small team emerging – five volunteers (representing various District teams) – a Steering Committee for the project.
This is brand new territory and nothing is yet ratified with District leaders. Exploration is a key motivator. We will meet soon and discuss our proposal for a support process that will lead our clubs forward in achieving success in Pathways Integration. A project that will help build Strategic Relationships for the club members, with their Base Camp Managers, their Area Director and their Division Directors as we strive for excellence in Pathways across the District.
Supporting the new Executives
The idea behind this project is the very real need to continue with a coordinated support process for our new club executive teams across Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Now that we are in our first month of the new season for our clubs, and new Base Camp Managers emerge from the executive teams, they need our help.
Our Pathways Guides have completed their ‘official’ terms of office, and many may have taken on other duties and may not be available for further guidance. We need a new team to support the Base Camp Managers. We need to build on the expertise and experiences of those who have already become Pathways champions and achievers to offer advice and support where required.
Support for Base Camp Managers
The new Base Camp Managers, consisting of the club’s President, VP Education and Secretary, are required to fulfil the following responsibilities:
The Base Camp Managers can access this Online Tutorial in Base Camp when they login as a BCM. They need to click on the Base Camp Manager Tutorial icon, as shown below:
There is a plethora of online resources for the BCMs, but knowing where to find them and how to use them is not well known yet. We can provide guidance on that!
Some club executives may have missed being part of the Pathways Experience presentations or virtual support sessions provided after rollout for our Region 12 in December 2017.
We can fill the training gaps with targeted Online Education!
Brand new members, just starting in Toastmasters, will be seeking guidance from their executives and mentors. We can help them to assist their club members!
D73 Team Pathways supports club executives in the Integration of Pathways.
Pathways Guides across the world have been conducting online training for VPEs and others, to help them with their leadership roles. Thousands of hours of volunteer time and effort has been implemented steadily since early last year when the first rollout of Pathways began. The Guides were required to provide a virtual support service 15 times during their term of office. These may have been: one on one training, small group training or large group training opportunities. Guides have used a variety of web conferencing tools and have engaged attendees in easy training webinars and workshops online.
Virtual support sessions enabled club leaders to view presentations, ask questions and to network with others who were at the beginning of their Pathways journeys. The VSS concept was embraced enthusiastically by the Guides and seen as a most pro-active method of contributing to club leadership training.
VSS was a strategic, targetted program of club leadership training initiated by WHQ at Toastmasters International.
The Guides were supported through a series of online webinars in which they were able to view demonstrations of navigation in Base Camp and listen to a series of FAQ and answers about Pathways. These were scheduled and conducted by WHQ personnel who were skilled as Trainers of Pathways Guides.
Vital Support Sessions: VSS for Club Leadership Training Online
I am proposing a slight change to the term VSS – Vital Support Sessions. We need to move forward and ensure that clubs can integrate Pathways smoothly during the transition period to June 2020. Many districts are now setting up a framework for that ongoing support, including the appointment of special Pathways Champions and scheduling of Online Workshops.
I recommend the use of District focused VSS – Vital Support Sessions, as a method of providing ongoing leadership training opportunities, for new club executive officers. These can be used for the incoming executives for specific and strategic training in Pathways:
choosing a Path; accessing Base Camp; completing projects, completing levels and Paths
accessing online resources and learning tutorials
roles and responsibilities of Base Camp managers including verifying completions and submitting awards at Club Central
club management tools and strategies to assist with the tracking, scheduling and recording of Pathways projects
Toastmasters Mentoring projects for supporting the members progress in Pathways
Training for VSS on Pathways
When the Guides in D73 were needing some training in how to prepare, structure and facilitate a virtual support session, I created a set of slides to step through the process and ran a couple of live interactive sessions. You can download the complete slide deck here.
A few of the slides are presented below to help others in preparing for VSS.
This is how a VSS may be prepared:
This is how the content of a VSS may be structured:
This how a VSS may be facilitated:
Here is an example of the scripting of your VSS:
Here is one way to add spice to the VSS with a Q & A segment:
Finally here is a method for introducing stories from attendees:
Lessons Learned: Scheduling
Set a regular day of the week and time for the VSS
Invite participation from leaders AND members of clubs in your area
Follow up with emails to ensure that all club executives are included
Setup a Facebook Group in which the VSS are scheduled as Events
Alternatively, post the scheduled VSS sessions in your website, blog or district page
Follow up with a link to the recording for attendees
Lessons Learned: Facilitating
Be flexible and accommodating eg be a logistics manager to help newcomers
Encourage participation in a variety of ways eg voice, text chat, screen sharing
Do your preparation homework and be ready
Have specific websites and resources open on desktop ready to share
Appoint a timer and keep to time
Finish with a reminder of the next session
For those using Zoom software, this second set of training slides will help!
If you are preparing for Club Leadership Training opportunities in your Online Clubs, this set of slides will be of interest.
… an HPL, a collaborative project, and a magnificent learning experience…
Have we succeeded? YES!
Have we been challenged? YES!
Have we made a difference? That is still emerging and will continue to surprise us all!
The Pathways Support for District U had an ambitious purpose – to provide support as clubs in District U approach their own Pathways Rollout.
Toastmasters and Pathways enthusiasts, the plan to support the 160+ clubs in the various Divisions of District U has reached its ultimate milestone.
The missions of this HPL included:
To enable skilled Toastmasters to apply their online leadership skills in the role of Pathways Guides in a totally 100% Pathways Support Program
Each OPG may have about 8-10 clubs assigned or selected
To provide support to District U clubs in preparing for their Pathways rollout in May 2018
We ensured that the rollout would be successful for District U by our planned club visits from 30 Online Pathways Guides.
Now you may be wondering how that was achieved. The answer was:
project management through a steering committee of four people; George Marshall, Michelle Alba-Lim, Mark Snow and Carole McCulloch
careful selection of the team of online guides
considered club assignments based on time zone compatabilities and language skills.
close liaison with Kate Reynerson, chief Pathways training officer at World Headquarters.
In all cases we expected the guides to perform the tasks and presentations as both Ambassador and Guide. The majority of those selected already had experience as a Pathways Guide and/or had already immersed in Pathways in their own districts.
How did we ensure that we were working in accordance with WHQ preferences? Our Chief Pathways Guide, George Marshall, liaised with Kate Reynerson, chief Pathways training officer at WHQ who provided us with the data that was required, including full lists of club officers for all clubs in District U.
What were the challenges?
Meeting our deadlines set down in our project – middle of January to select steering committee; middle of February to recruit guides; middle of April to assign clubs; and middle of May to complete club visits.
Contacting the executive teams of the clubs and getting a response in a timely manner
Visiting the clubs during their meeting times, virtually – we also needed to update our shared tracking sheet so that WHQ could see our progress
Providing relevant presentations about the Pathways Experience – often meant a much reduced time frame and attention to details as requested by some clubs already immersed in Pathways (eg the Online Clubs)
Giving answers to the myriad of questions that ensued.
What were the successes?
Global networking on a much bigger scale – reaching out to clubs in countries spread across the world
Creating networking relationships of trust for the executive teams at the clubs of District U
Preparing the majority of the clubs for Pathways before rollout.
Now we have an ongoing task to support the clubs in Virtual Support Sessions (15 per guide) stretching from May to August 2018. We are able to call on all our skills now to ‘mentor’ each club in integrating Pathways into their clubs. The Steering Committee will still provide Guide Support Sessions each month to ensure that the Guides can continue to tap into the wisdom of the crowd and share their experiences.
This has been the biggest project I have been involved with and it was a pleasure to work alongside the Steering Committee and the Online Pathways Guides.
Thank you to the Steering Committee for providing their 360 degree evaluations of my work as a leader, I value your opinions, commendations and recommendations.
Thank you to the Online Pathways Guides for your unswerving attention to detail and provision of service, I am honored to include you all in my Personal Learning Networks.
Final outcomes of this project are shared with all the Online Pathways Guides and the members of the Online Alliance in their social media discussion forums.
Online Clubs first emerged in March 2016 and since then we have seen a total of 19 clubs chartered. We have a few community clubs, a sprinkling of corporate clubs and a group of advanced clubs – all meeting 100% online with their members on a regular basis. There are substantial numbers of Toastmasters involved with Online Clubs; either as visitors, guests, members and leaders.
This was the description of 100% online clubs from WHQ in 2016!
How many Online Clubs have chartered since then?
Here is the latest from the Dashboards at Toastmasters.org. Imagine my surprise when I noted another new club just chartered on May 24, 2018 – DJ & MC Toastmasters. The count is now 19 chartered clubs with an overall membership of 1,017 Toastmasters.
Noted in the details above are those Online Clubs who have succeeded in reaching Distinguished Club, Select Distinguished Club, and Presidents Distinguished club status. Congratulations to all.
There are several Prospective Online Clubs still waiting in the wings – striving to reach charter membership requirements. Three of these are very close to becoming chartered: Ablaze Online, Diversity Toastmasters Online and Witty Birds Online.
Of course there may be others entering the Online Club environment and we hope to hear from their leaders soon.
Where can I find current Online Club details?
Here is the line up of clubs currently displayed at Find-A-Club, with their meeting times, specialties and prerequisites. Visit Toastmasters.org and select the Find-a-Club icon. Then select Find Online Clubs.
Note: this does not include all chartered clubs at this stage – display still to be updated by TI.
Critical Questions from Leaders building Online Clubs?
Leaders who are contemplating the establishment of an Online Club will benefit from considering this set of critical questions that others have asked themselves:
Who to build the club for
What time zone will be the basis for meetings
How to choose effective web conferencing tools
How to define meeting styles
What promotional tools to use for recruitment
Which club management tools to choose
Which websites to use for ease of access
What skills are required of online executive teams
What types of meeting roles are required
How to maximise success by collaborating among online clubs
How to do what seems impossible
Biggest joys for me, from being part of the Online Clubs development for two years, include:
the benefits of attending Toastmasters from computer or mobile device wherever I may be
watching and supporting those who have stepped up to create new online clubs
bringing new perspectives to my Toastmasters journey as I follow their lead
seeing what can be achieved online – going beyond perceived barriers
I was invited to be part of a radio interview recently, to explain the rise of popularity of Online Clubs and to talk about the benefits of belonging to online clubs, the differences of experiencing Online Toastmaster meeting and the challenges of support for online clubs. The radio station was Coast.FM situated in Adelaide, South Australia. I was happy to report on the benefits of belonging; the differences at online meetings and the challenges experienced.
Benefits of belonging to Online Clubs
Toastmasters who are already embracing online club membership will tell you that the experiences have helped them to develop their skills to another level among an international audience.
Attendance online is easier – no travel required, no need to leave the home in bad weather, no restrictions for differently abled people
Performing meeting roles at an online club is challenging – builds networks, builds skills for screen presence, builds confidence in presenting for webinars and online meetings
Being a member of an online club – stretches your personal learning network, enables immersion in wider cultural environments, and provides greater connectivity between meetings
Note: For me, I really like how the communications between members of Online Clubs between meetings, generates another method of ‘connection’ with fellow club members. It far exceeds the amount of communication between my fellow land-based club members. It has increased my Personal Learning Networks and enabled a huge growth of experience and confidence.
Differences at an Online Meeting
Best way to find out about what is differeent at an online club meeting, is to visit an Online Club in a time zone that suits you and experience them for yourself. These are some of the typical differences you will notice immediately:
You are seen and heard in small video windows within the meeting software and you become more focussed on the speakers – up close and personal.
Mostly you will be seated and displaying head and shoulders only.
Your background becomes a focal point and one to pay attention to improving to avoid distractions.
Meetings will usually begin with some networking that everyone can share, and there is need for an interval or a break time to chat with others.
Different roles are required to help with initial networking and tech checks, providing feedback on screen presence and keeping track of the chat texting.
The Toastmaster is the host and has control over the muting and unmuting of microphones.
Everyone has equal opportunity to share screens for display of websites or presentation sides.
The Timer needs to be innovative with timing devices and to provide audible sounds when required.
Note: For me, I find increased value in performing my meeting roles in online clubs as it enables my innovation to shine with a brighter light.
Challenges for Online Clubs
Currently all Online Clubs are categorised as Undistricted – with no supportive structure for Program Quality and Club Growth. There are no Area Directors, Division or District Directors keeping everything on track. There are no official Area Contests or the ability to proceed to District contests except through the Video Tape Contest. There are no District level Publicity Managers or Finance Managers – each online club manages their own publicity and finances. We are working on that support by encouraging leaders and members from all online clubs to join the Facebook group – Online Alliance.
One major challenge has been the need for inter club leadership training that will provide greater networking between executive teams from a variety of online clubs. The training that is provided is scheduled from within the club. Online clubs are exempt from earning DCP points for training unless the executives can attend training in their land based districts. We are discussing the potentials for online training at this Facebook group – Online Training for Toastmasters.
Recognition among the Toastmasters community as clubs of equal value is still an ongoing challenge – there are still many Toastmasters who are not in favour of Online Clubs membership. On the other hand there are still many Toastmasters who are not yet aware of online club membership. We are working towards correcting that perspective by encouraging Toastmasters to visit the very active Facebook group – Online Toastmasters Resources.
Note: For me these are the challenges that provide the ‘spur’ for greater innovation as we create solutions to these issues.
Recent benefits from Online Club Meetings?
A recent project for me was to talk about the experiences of being in an Online Club, during an interview on the radio. This fitted ideally into my Pathways projects planning and I accepted eagerly. The process and preparation for this event was all contained in one email from the presenter.
These were the questions that I answered at that radio interview, hosted at Coast.FM, Close Encounters of the Community Kind on May 14:
Tell us about the online clubs
How did online clubs begin?
Why did they begin?
Were online clubs accepted by Toastmasters International immediately?
What process occurred before acceptance of these virtual clubs?
What benefits have you seen of virtual clubs?
Are there any other places in Toastmasters where technology is being used to close the gap?
I was able to relay that information to the Coast.FM listeners and to cement my own convictions about the real benefits of Online Clubs.
My next step was to schedule a speech, for delivery at an Online Club; to explore the benefits of promoting Online Clubs in different media. A bit like an interview about an interview.
I wanted to complete the Elective project from my Strategic Relationships Path and put another spin on this by choosing to deliver the speech as an interviewee at one of my online clubs, Ablaze Online.
This is how I structured a set of questions for my interviewer:
Q.1 What attracted you to a radio interview about Online Toastmasters?
Q.2 How did you get involved with a Radio Interview recently?
Q.3 What advice were you given prior to the interview?
Q.4 What were the benefits of online clubs you promoted to the audience?
Q.5 What advice would you give for other Toastmasters who wish to promote online clubs on radio?
This project gave tons of scope for exploring radio interviews and those for the small screen. I did feel challenged, both in preparing for the radio interview and the questions from the Toastmaster at the online meeting. The thing that helped me the most was being able to structure my speech around a set of questions and to provide an authentic, off the cuff style, rather than a ‘canned’ speech.
This activity did pose some challenges for my Evaluator – it was new and different – however, I am pleased to say that the feedback was encouraging and uplifting.
Pathways has provided me with a renewed focus on participating in my online club meetings and a way of exploring new and challenging projects. It has made me think more deeply about the processes involved in:
choosing and Electives
completing the Project
scheduling the Speech
preparing the Evaluator
embedding the Feedback
repeating at another time at another club with a greater understanding of how to inspire.