COVID, Global Mentoring, & My Virtual DTM Triumph

The Distinguished Toastmasters Award (DTM) is the highest honor acquired by a Toastmaster.

In 2020, COVID-19 restrictions were beginning; that is, everyone was required to wear face masks and to a social distance of at least 6 feet apart when meeting or passing another person. Toastmasters International Meetings were going online due to national, provincial, and municipal emergency regulations.

After two months of social distancing, I attended my Home Club CREB Talkers weekly online virtual meeting.  As well, I was able to participate in District 42 2020 online Annual Conference. I listened to the keynote speaker describing how a Toastmaster can complete their Distinguished Toastmaster Award in the new Pathways Education Program even during social distancing regulations. This piqued my interest. The DTM Program has changed over the years. Through the traditional DTM Program, a Toastmaster could choose either the Communications Track or the Leadership Track.  Currently, a Toastmaster is required to complete both Communication and Leadership goals. With social distancing regulations and in-person communication becoming less and less I needed a goal. With Club, Area, and District support, I could obtain my Distinguished Toastmaster Award goal.

 CREB Talkers member, and then Area F Director, Ksenija Crnogorac, had just finished volunteering at the CREB Talkers Club Contest. I had many questions and very few answers about the DTM Program. I reached out and chatted with Ksenija. In our in-depth conversation, Ksenija provided the Area Director application, Area Director Roles & Responsibilities, and possible Area Director interview questions. As well, she shared her Area Director experiences and stories.

In completing my COVID distancing virtual DTM, my biggest challenge was realizing the first club I supported as a Club Sponsor would likely not become an accredited hybrid club until later in the year. I wanted to support this club; however, I wanted to complete my DTM by June 30/2022

Challenge: Could I be a Club Sponsor for two clubs? Answer: Yes

Challenge: During the Club Leaders team meeting, present a potential Club Action Plan; we realized it might be good for the “overburdened”, exhausted small club to take a break over the summer and return in September with renewed leadership & individual member support such as have members visit other clubs as guests to become more knowledgeable about TI roles, have members join other existing clubs, decide to meet in person which would be advantageous to them & to guests who have visited.

My learnings from completing my Virtual Distinguished Toastmaster Award were:

  • Review the application and become knowledgeable about each leadership role
  • Break each leadership volunteer role into a small attainable SMART Goal with concrete measurable tasks that fit your schedule and learning style to be completed by a specific due date.

Finally, words of advice that I can offer someone who is thinking about completing their virtual, in-person or hybrid DTM are:

  • Talk to Toastmasters members about your interest in completing a DTM to gain support
  • Ask questions. Don’t let not knowing how to complete the DTM stop you

·         You can complete a DTM at your pace

Susan Mercer-Thornhill, DTM

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