My Turn: DTM Stands for Dearly Treasured Memories

A Toastmaster reflects on her journey to DTM

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – IZAAK WALTON

By Melissa Brown, DTM

DTM: Some say that stands for “Distinguished Toastmaster.” I say it stands for Dearly Treasured Memories... because that’s what I received on the path to my coveted DTM.

When I joined Toastmasters nearly 10 years ago, it was a means to an end. A co-worker encouraged me to improve my speaking skills in order to be competitive for a training position within the company. I wanted that promotion! Unfortunately, I already worked for the hiring manager, but in a different capacity. Day in and day out while I sweated my fate, I reported to the man who would decide my future. Of course, being eight months pregnant didn’t help my outlook on the situation – or my perception of the outcome!

I lost my bid for that position to a colleague. After recovering from the pain and rejection and returning to work after the birth of my son, I decided that I would try this thing called Toastmasters. I wanted to do whatever I could to improve my chances to get the job the next time. As I write this article, I am hoping that you too will take time to reflect on why you have joined Toastmasters, what you have gained through the experience and where you want the journey to take you.

So what does all that have to do with your DTM?” I’m glad you ask! I share this brief history to let you in on my Dearly Treasured Memories. You see, I began the path as a means to an end, but I continued on the path because of dear friendships.

After I obtained the positions I wanted in my career, I found that Toastmasters had become embedded in my life. The technical aspects of my DTM achievement – the education awards, the High Performance Leadership project, serving as area governor – can be found in materials available through Toastmasters International. What you won’t find without experiencing it for yourself are the many heart strings tied to this achievement.

During my journey to DTM, many members encouraged me to take the next step. Through helpful evaluations, they provided me with tools to make every speech better than the one before. Through kindness they encouraged me when I didn’t accomplish the objectives of a speech. As I provided evaluations, I found gems to be aware of in my own speeches. As others in my club improved and earned various Toastmasters designations, I was inspired to work toward the next goal as well. Other heart strings are tied to the members that spurred me on by challenging me. It’s often hard to keep the competitive spirit subdued with direct challenges like “I’ll finish ATM before you,” or “Let’s join the speech contest – to see who will win.” Through the challenges of competition we all won.

                    "It is because of all the friends along the way
                that I have the DTM today."

Competing in the speech contests provided the most growth opportunity in the shortest amount of time. The first time I met a World Champion of Public Speaking I was inspired to reach for that wonderful goal myself. At each level of participation in Toastmasters, I have been encouraged to stretch and I gather more Toastmasters experience.

As I reflect on my journey to DTM, I realize that many of my friends have ties to Toastmasters. I can remember some who gave speeches while looking at mystery spots on the wall, and some that were so frightened they visibly shook for 20 minutes after giving a speech. There have even been a few who had me wondering why they joined at all, since it seemed they had no challenges with public speaking.

I treasure the memories I’ve gained on this journey. It is because of all the friends along the way that I have the DTM today. I’ve enjoyed giving speeches that wowed. I’ve learned from the ones that flopped (although I’d rather forget those). I’ve been challenged in trying to give helpful evaluations. I’ve attended contests, participated in contests, and lost contests…all in an effort to improve my skills. I’ve attended parties, participated in themed meetings, taken the DTM walk at the district conference, and now I’ve written this article. It is amazing how difficult it is to put 10 years of memories onto one page.

As I have taken you through this small glimpse of my Dearly Treasured Memories, I hope you have been encouraged to start (or continue) gathering your own DTM. I hope you have rekindled the spark that started you on the journey and that you will take up my challenge. I call on you to be there with me when I get my next DTM...because gathering Dearly Treasured Memories is a process that I plan to pursue for a long time to come!

Melissa Brown, DTM, is a member of Top O’ The Rock Toastmasters Club in Folkston, Georgia. Reach her at