Paul White, DTM, had high hopes for the Pathways learning experience. Before the new education program became available in his district, he was starting to feel stagnant in Toastmasters. He was looking for a spark—and he found it.
“Pathways presents fresh ways of looking at things I was already familiar with, and does so in greater depth,” says White, a longtime member in Virginia. “In Pathways, I have ventured out of my comfort zone.”
Since its launch last year, the program has been rolling out in phases around the world. This month Pathways comes to regions 3 and 5, the seventh and eighth regions where Pathways is available to members. The rollout is expected to be complete by the end of the 2017–2018 program year.
Pathways, which includes more than 300 competencies you can learn, was designed to help members develop skills to apply in the world outside Toastmasters. And that’s one of the things members say they most appreciate about it. Vincent Chen, a member of the Tampines Changkat club in Singapore, works as a human resources administrator. After completing the Leadership Development path in the new program, he says he’s stronger at his job.
“I have improved my leadership, listening and coaching skills, so I’m better able to guide some of my colleagues at work when they have queries on policies,” says Chen, a Toastmaster since 2014.
The program has 10 different paths. Each one integrates communication and leadership (except for Presentation Mastery, which is dedicated solely to public speaking). The educational content in Pathways will continue to evolve and expand. Currently, two additional paths are being developed: Humor (available toward the end of this year) and Advanced Leadership (available in 2019).
“The online tools helped me a lot,” says Muha Muhaimin Latif, who has completed the Visionary Communication path. “Especially the first time I did Pathways, because I didn’t have anyone to ask. I just depended on the guidance from the tutorials and videos.”
Latif, a member of the Kebayoran Toastmasters club in Indonesia, says the competencies he gained from the path will help him both in his personal life and in his work as a therapist. Visionary Communication includes such projects as Understanding Your Communication Style, Ethical Leadership and Manage Projects Successfully.
“The path helped me develop my ability to clearly envision my projects in advance, so I can share project goals with my team and we can achieve them easily,” he says.
“Practicing skills in handling a Q&A and managing a difficult audience are directly transferable to the real-life business world.”—Geoff Andrew, DTM
Geoff Andrew, DTM, has been highly involved with Pathways from the start, serving as a member volunteer in various capacities. The 18-year member, who belongs to two clubs in Kuala Lumpur, has completed the Presentation Mastery path. He says he particularly liked projects in Levels 3, 4 and 5—members advance through five levels of progressive complexity in a path—because they challenged and pushed him. Among the most meaningful to him: Leading in a Voluntary Organization, Managing a Difficult Audience, Making Connections Through Networking and Question-and-Answer Session.
“Practicing skills in handling a Q&A and managing a difficult audience are directly transferable to the real-life business world,” says Andrew, the managing director of a publishing company.
A longtime leader in Toastmasters, Andrew also completed the Pathways Mentor Program. Mentoring is a big part of the learning experience, and the three-project Mentor Program is an optional course for anyone who wants to further their skills in this area. Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring is a required project in Level 2 of every path.
White, the Virginia member, also did the Presentation Mastery path. He praised the online path resources. “To have video clips of World Champions of Public Speaking or complete very interesting assessments as I discovered my communication style was a big surprise to me,” he says. “To hear an effective evaluation and be able to compare my evaluations with that one was eye-opening both for what I do well and where I could improve.”
Particularly exciting to White is how he is able to apply what he learned in the path. He has become a successful professional speaker and organized two well-attended storytelling events at George Mason University in Virginia. Both events were the product of a High Performance Leadership project in Pathways.
In short, says White, he feels reinvigorated. “After years of feeling that speaking had become routine and not a challenge … I was enticed by Pathways to again explore the awe and wonder of public speaking.”
For more information visit the Pathways webpage.
Paul Sterman is senior editor of Toastmaster magazine.