Education Toastmasters International

My 3 years journey to DTM

Distinguished Toastmasters – DTM

In the Beginning

When I did my icebreaker speech in Cheltenham Speakers in June 2013, little did I know back then that I would become a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) just 3 years later. A few weeks later I was living on the Clyde estuary and Toastmasters only came back on my agenda when I moved to London in late September 2013. Mastering public speaking and leadership was and remain a priority for me; so a rough plan was sketched in my head of joining several clubs to clock up experience faster.

My knowledge of the Toastmasters educational programme developed itself in drip by drip, mainly through my own research. Not having a mentor meant that I was on my own. But my natural curiosity coupled with an early promotion to VPE did the trick and so my first objective was set. Achieving Competent Communicator and Competent Leader status by June 2014! Once this was done, my next objective was a bold race against the clock, becoming a DTM before I turned 30; becoming a DTM before December 2016!

Launching London Victorians paved the way for completing all the leadership related tasks in time. The major stumbling block for me was the speeches, completing 30+ speeches in just 2 years. Like many I found the jump from the CC manual to the advanced manuals quite big and my speech progression stalled for a few months, adding to the dilemma. The dilemma was eventually sorted through a combination of forward planning and seeking out extra speaking opportunities whenever possible. Being a member of 3 and even briefly 4 clubs also helped in a big way! Eventually, my final speech from the Technical Presentations manual in late May, Speech 49 AM in my classification, 2016 sealed the deal.

Over the last 3 years I’ve learnt more about public speaking and leadership that I hoped for and the amazing thing is that my Toastmasters journey is still far from over. Indeed, the more I learnt about both subjects, the more I realise that I know little and still have a lot more to learn and experience. It goes without saying that I’m already working through my second DTM in order to focus on anything I may have missed when doing the first one!

Can anyone do the same? The answer is yes you can and here’s how.

1. Plan Your Speaking Schedule

As soon as I learnt the “2 roles in between speeches” rule in my clubs, I immediately requested speeches and roles far in advance to progress as fast as I could. I subsequently started keeping a record of all the meetings I attended and tabulated all the meeting dates of my clubs 6 months in advance. This way you can calculate how many speeches you’ll be doing over the course of a few months. Number your speech and here you go, you’ll have a very good idea of when you’ll deliver your 9th or even your 24th speech!

Use easy-Speak ( to track your progress and plan ahead!
Use easy-Speak ( to track your progress and plan ahead!

2. Join a Second Club

Not being a member a single club meant that I was exposed to some of the wider elements of the Toastmasters community very early on. You’ll meet more people faster, be known to visiting GEs and functionaries faster. But more importantly you’ll have more opportunities to speak and do meeting roles. Don’t neglect meeting roles as they’re just as important as speeches to sharpen your arsenal of skills.

3. Network Proactively

Had I not attended the Division B contests of October 2013, I most definitely wouldn’t have been as involved as quickly since these words of wisdom from the amazing Hillary Briggs, “you’re enthusiastic; you should get more involved!” Made me think a lot back then. In the same vein, offering my services as general evaluator, mystery speaker or judge, both pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to meet more people in other clubs. Without these relationships, London Victorians would have never happened, I would never have considered doing a Youth Leadership Project and becoming an area director would have been much harder.

4. Get to know the Educational Program

The Toastmasters Educational Program is rather simple, but the devil lies in its detail. For example in the requirement to do two speeches from the Successful Speaker Series to achieve ACS, the imperative of being a club mentor, sponsor or coach and a few more. Know what these bottlenecks will be far advance and plan accordingly!

5. Remember to Push Yourself!

You’ll need to do 46 speeches to become a DTM. That’s right a whopping 46 speeches! The effort will be worthless though if you don’t push yourself and excel in whatever you do. Always ensure that your speeches meet their project objectives. NEVER hesitate to repeat or redo a speech of you’re not happy about how it went. As club officer or district officer, don’t forget that you’re a leader and that you have a duty to lead by example. If you decide to launch a club in your own journey, make it the best you can, do better than what others do and serve your members first and foremost!

Just like me you’ll learn more on this journey than you hoped for. So onwards and forwards, go on and add these three letters ‘DTM’ to your last name by December 2019!

Past meetings

A splendid Victorian start to 2015 – 6th & 8th January

As befitted our first meeting in 2015, the theme of the evening of Tuesday 6th of January toastmastered by our Vice-President Education Fahad Alturkait was New Year resolutions. Timekeeper Anne was in charge of our lights for her first role in the club – well done Anne! – And grammarian Edwin offered us “anew” as word of the day.

Toastmaster of the evening Fahad!

The first speaker of the evening was Ross Colman “2014 – a bad year for aviation safety?” His answer to this question was a very firm no and we embarked on a journey across the various safety systems equipping modern airliners for fire extinguishers in engines to collision avoidance mechanisms. Kohinoor followed with the first speech from the Entertaining Speaker manual titled “New Year Resolutions”. Our professional speaker Sergey concluded the prepared speeches, with an interactive seminar “how to create a powerful story” using a cartoon from 1898 as imagination trigger.

Sergey's seminar
Sergey’s seminar

Evaluators Florian, Warren and George then entered the fray highlighting among other points the importance of vocal variety and a strong beginning and conclusion. A table topics session in which several of our very numerous guests that evening followed, led by Marina.

Thursday 8th of January also several club members and Toastmasters from all over London doing a demonstration meeting in Cardinal Place. A highly interactive meeting focusing on table topics took place, led by Sergey as Toastmaster. Our shiny new banner led the marketing blitz by the escalators to hundreds of offices working whizzing by, most of them with a leaflet “London Victorians – Conquer your fear of public speaking” in their hands!

London Victorians – Conquer your fear of public speaking!

London Victorians committee would like to thank Land Securities for their help and support in making this demonstration meeting possible.

Beyond Victorians Toastmasters International

London Victorians takes over Paris!

London Victorians President at Club Expressions Paris

Shortly after planning my Christmas break in Paris with my family, I could not resist the chance to have a look and wonder “perhaps one of Paris’ Toastmasters club will meeting while I am here”. Lo and behold, Toastmasters Expressions was due to meet on Monday 22nd December. A brief e-mail exchange with friendly fellow president Emmanuelle followed and I was now general evaluator of this meeting!

Upon arrival I was welcomed by no less than the governor of the division encompassing Northern France, Odile scheduled to be our grammarian that evening. The familiar flurry of pre-meeting activity followed; tables and chairs laid out, agendas distributed and introductions made. Unlike most London based clubs, Toastmasters clubs in France follow a different format, with the Toastmasters only chairing the first half of the meeting comprising table topics and prepared speeches. The three speeches of the evening by Ladji, Aicha and Emmanuelle, comprised two speeches from the CC manual (Savoir Communiquer) and one advanced speech from the speaking to inform manual (Parler pour Informer). As befits the place, a buffet of bread, cheese, saucisson and wine brought by a club member crowned the break.

Mid-meeting break à la Française
French buffet for the break!

The evaluation section followed with myself introducing the four evaluators in turn, followed by the timekeeper and grammarian and concluded by a general evaluation. Carefully observing each evaluator in between introducing them, being an extra challenge to an already challenging but rewarding role!

Expressions lived up to its credentials as a well-established French speaking club, with three amazing speeches, supportive evaluations and a warm hospitable atmosphere!

Whenever you go don’t forget to check! There might be a club you can visit and where a role might be up for grabs! Toastmasters is your network of friendly and like-minded people cutting across borders, so what are you waiting for, use it!

Toastmasters of the world unite!