By Greg Pick, DTM, Past District Director, Pathways Coordinator
Calvin Dorsey had progressed through Pathways rapidly – he has completed three paths in the last 18 months. Consequently, we wanted to know how he motivated himself and overcame his fear of speaking.
Questions and Answers
When you started speaking how did you overcome any fear that you felt?
Confidence and preparation helped me to overcome any fear that I felt. As an optimist who begins with the end in mind, I visualized the audience accepting my message favorably. In addition, abdominal breathing put my body at ease and released my physical stress. I would take three deep breaths and exhale slowly prior to my presentation.
How did you schedule your speeches and prepare them along with living the rest of your life?
Progressing through Pathways has not been difficult because I enjoy it and I embrace the opportunity to improve every day. When you make completing your path a priority, it can be achieved. Generally, I set aside about an hour on the weekends and draft my initial outline. Since my objective is to improve my extemporaneous speaking ability, I do not script my speeches or use any notes when I deliver them. Instead, I have a conversation with the audience as I share my story. In my Club, Progressive Leaders of Denton County, there is a sign-up sheet with open roles listed over the next three weeks. … and I sign-up often to make speeches as well as to fill other roles.
What benefits have you gained from completing all these projects (i.e., working the Pathways program)?
My extemporaneous speaking has improved significantly. As an analytical person, I always try to be prepared and know my subject matter. Pathways has helped me to develop the right mindset, skillset, and execution resulting from experiential learning in all the projects. Another benefit is the valuable feedback that I have received from my evaluators. I always remind myself that there is probably someone in every audience who sees, hears, and feels the same way as the speech evaluator and to not take the feedback personally. Instead, I view this aspect as a learning opportunity to be proactive by addressing the observations in my next speech.
What would you say are your biggest takeaways from the Pathways program based on your experience?
I will respond to this question with bullet points which the readers can easily remember:
- Self-paced program allowing time to process the information at your pace and level of interest
- Self-Discovery through self-assessments which identify potential areas of strength and opportunities for improvement … if you want to improve your leadership and speaking skills
- Information about the concepts that you can print, videos, and quizzes
- Experiential learning with projects such as attending a networking event, managing a project at your job, or leading your own volunteer project.
- Elective projects which provide the freedom to choose from a variety of topics
Did Pathways meet or exceed your expectations when you first set out on your journey?
Pathways has exceeded my expectations because it provides a methodical step-by-step approach to mastering a mindset, skillset, and principles of execution for getting things done regardless of your preferred learning style. The Paths include video, audio, written material, self‑assessments, and feedback.
Would you recommend the Pathways curriculum to a friend? If so, why would you recommend it to them?
Yes, I would recommend the Pathways curriculum to a friend, enemy, or anyone else. At a recent training workshop for Area Directors, we were given a book by Ken Blanchard titled Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager which described three keys of Self Leadership:
- Challenge assumed constraints
- Activate your points of power
- Be proactive about getting what you need to succeed.
Furthermore, the book emphasizes that “You are ready for self-leadership when you accept responsibility for your own success.”
The Pathways curriculum is all about self-leadership because you get to choose your path which includes a plethora of electives, hands-on projects, and evaluations which will help you develop your leadership and speaking skills. Some key takeaways include:
- Visualizing the audience and breathing reduced his apprehension
- Embrace the opportunity to improve and make completing your Path a priority
- His extemporaneous speaking has improved because of the experiential nature of the program and the evaluations provided
- Self‑paced program and self‑discovery by participating
- Pathways and its features exceeded his expectations and he would recommend it to anyone
As Helen Blanchard, DTM, PIP stated, “If you get out of Toastmasters what you can get out of Toastmasters then you will never get out of Toastmasters.” From this interview, we can tell that the Pathways Learning Experience continues to demonstrate the benefits of Toastmasters.