I joined District 25 in July 1993 as a member of the (now defunct) Lunch Bunch Toastmasters. Three years later, I had completed all the requirements to earn the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation and award, except one. The one requirement that kept me from getting my DTM was “must have been a member of Toastmasters for at least four years.” I had to wait another year before getting my first DTM in July 1997.
Under the existing Communication and Leadership requirements, there is no membership requirement except that the Toastmaster must be a member in good standing of a club in good standing. Since then I have received two additional DTM awards under the current requirements. If I can do it, you can surely get your DTM in three years. Here’s how you can chart your plan towards a DTM in three years.
Know the DTM Requirements
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there. Toastmasters International has a bookmark-sized Communication and Leadership Education Program card. You should keep it with you, memorize the contents, and fulfill the requirements. The requirements to achieve the DTM include earning the Advanced Communication Gold (ACG) award and the Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) award. In a nutshell, the DTM requirements are:
- Earn Competent Communicator (CC) award – Completion of ten (10) speeches.
- Earn the Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) – Completion of two advanced manuals (a total of ten speeches).
- Earn the Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS) – Completion of two additional advanced manuals (a total of ten speeches). Also, conduct two presentations from The Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful Club Series.
- Earn the Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG) – Completion of two additional advanced manuals (a total of ten speeches). Also, conduct one Success/Communication or Success/Leadership or Youth Leadership workshop. And, coach a new member with his or her first three speeches.
- Earn the Competent Leader (CL) Award.
- Earn the Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) Award. This includes serving a complete term as a club officer, attending officer training, and conducting two presentations from The Successful Club Series or The Leadership Excellence Series.
- Earn the Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) Award. This includes serving a complete term as a district officer (for example, serving as an Area Governor), completing the High Performance Leadership program, and sponsoring or mentoring a new club or serving as a Club Coach.
Make a Success Plan
Success is not a game of chance. Know what you want and when you want it. For your DTM, you must complete the Competent Communication (CC) manual and six advanced manuals (five speeches each). That’s a total of 40 speeches. This means that you should complete, on an average, one speech every four weeks. The first week you can decide on the topic and create an outline. You can complete a draft of your speech in the second week. You can finalize your speech in the third week. In the fourth week, you can practice your speech and deliver it. If you can get on your club’s schedule to deliver your speeches every four weeks, you can always visit other clubs. Some clubs struggle with having enough speakers on the agenda; they would love for you to come and deliver a speech.
In the second year, along with giving your speeches, you can serve as a club officer and give presentations from The Better Speaker Series or The Successful Club series, and assist a new member with their first three speeches.
In the third year, along with giving your speeches, you can serve as a district officer, and serve as a Club Sponsor or Club Mentor, and complete your High Performance Leadership program. You can complete the High Performance Leadership program within Toastmasters or at work. For example, you can coordinate and conduct an Area Speech contest as the Contest Chairperson.
Stay the Course until Completion
If you get behind, do not get discouraged. Update the plan to see how you can get back on track. Remember, you do not have to go the distance alone. Your district officers and other Distinguished Toastmasters are eager to help you succeed.
The Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award represents the ultimate success. It’s like wining the marathon or an Olympic gold medal or the World Series. Perhaps, it’s not the same as winning the World Series. But you get the point. More than the gold badge, it represents your commitment to the highest achievement in Toastmasters and your excellence in performance.
You can be distinguished in three years. Simply know the DTM requirements, make a plan for achievement, and stay the course until you complete all the requirements. Many of your fellow Toastmasters and I have done it. So can you.