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Earn Those Educational Awards


How to achieve goals that will boost your job and life skills.

By Alison Horner

As you work toward your educational goals for the current Toastmasters year, consider the inspiring examples of other members. Arthuretta Martin, of the Get Up To Speak Toastmasters in Annandale, Virginia, earned five educational awards in a single year. Countess Clarke Cooper, of the United States Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Toastmasters, worked toward her Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) – the highest achievement in the organization – while juggling single parenthood and multiple jobs and serving as an area governor.

Such goals can be accomplished!

Know Your Priorities
Members who tie their educational aims to their personal or professional priorities have greater motivation, especially when things get tough. For example, Martin’s Toastmasters goals fell directly in line with her desire to eventually become a professional speaker. Cooper places a high value on personal growth and development, which the Toastmasters program assists her with achieving.

Once you decide which goals hold the most meaning for you, it’s time to create a game plan that is custom-tailored to your life. Cooper says that although Toastmasters lays out an overall structure for achieving goals, it helps to make the curriculum personal. “Put dates by your goal; then work backward,” she says. “Think: How many meetings does my club have in that time frame and how many speeches or roles do I need to fill? If I need to fill more roles than my club has meetings, then perhaps I need to visit another club. Be strategic.” Joining multiple clubs can be an effective tactic if you’d like to achieve your goal quickly. Martin joined four clubs to rapidly meet her goals.

Tips for Success
Like Cooper, Distinguished Toastmaster Daniel Pollard is a member of the United States Department of Education’s FSA Toastmasters, which meets in Washington, D.C. He emphasizes building bonds with other Toastmasters. “Go to a variety of events outside your club, such as area contests and training events, to network,” he advises. By meeting other Toastmasters, you will learn of opportunities to speak at other clubs, identify people who can serve as advisors and benefit from learning about other members’ experiences.

“People seem to help each other in Toastmasters,” adds Pollard. “The key is to let people know when you need help. If you don’t tell people when you need help they’ll have no way of knowing.”

James Scarborough, of the Foggy Bottom Toastmasters in Washington, D.C., advises, “Always be working on something and get credit for it.” For example, when serving as an area governor, there are many opportunities to speak. Get credit for those speeches.

Gaining from Goal-Setting
Achieving an educational goal is a stepping stone to achieving larger goals in life. You may be looking to advance your career through improved public speaking or leadership skills, increase your network and sense of community, or grow as a person. These are all great benefits to aim for, and the Toastmasters program can help you achieve them.

What’s more, you’ll develop the confidence and skills to pursue your ultimate goal. If you don’t already have an ultimate goal, now may be the time to consider it. In doing so, here are three questions worth pondering:
Where are you planning to take the experience and knowledge you gained in Toastmasters? Which of your educational goals was your favorite? What did you enjoy achieving the most?

Answer these questions to help you integrate your Toastmasters education into your personal or professional life. Then get ready to meet your dreams!

The Member Achievement Record (Item 1328) is a form that can help you track your progress toward Toastmasters’ educational awards. In addition, a wall chart – a larger form also used to record goal accomplishments – is a useful tool for clubs, because it can be displayed at club meetings and allows all members to monitor their progress toward the various awards. The Wall Chart Set (Item 306) includes achievement charts for the Competent Communication, Competent Leader and Advanced Communication manuals. It’s available at

This is a condensed version of an article that appeared in the January 2011 issue of the Toastmaster magazine. 

Alison Horner, who is proud to have completed her CC last August, helps young professionals with designing their life’s direction. Reach her through her website at