On Saturday the club President and Sergeant at Arms visited Battle Speakers Club to attend Toastmasters International (TMI) Club Officer Training presented by Andy Hammond. Andy has the glorious title of District 91 Pathways Chief Ambassador and presented information on the new member education program entitled Pathways which will be introduced in September 2017.
Pathways will initially run alongside the current Communicator and Leadership programs until the end of 2019 when the old programs will be phased out. Any members starting after September 2017 will be enrolled in the new program but members who are part way through the old program can continue with this as normal. The new program will have a more flexible structure and members will receive their first ¨path¨ free a little like the current CC and CL manuals. The first path should encompass the training of both old manuals though we are told that recognition will be more frequent by way of awards. Additional paths may be purchased in the same way that we currently purchase additional advanced manuals.
Overall, Pathways has a more businesslike focus. TMI have the view that communication is part of leadership and so the new education program will have no clear distinction between the two. Toastmasters have extensive experience in leadership and an international network of clubs and so the business like focus seems to be an attempt to leverage this to compete with commercial leadership development.
Itś important to stress that the structure of club meetings will remain the same, and meetings will still have prepared speeches, evaluations and the usual other roles. We shall retain the same friendly supportive environment which we all value so much.
As part of the enrollment process the needs of new members will be assessed and a default path suggested. Members will however be able to choose their own path and at least two paths will continue to emphasise public speaking and so should be similar to the current Competent Communicator program.
On-line access will be available for members to access training material and manage progress and this will be known as Pathways Basecamp and part of the current Toastmasters International Web site. Basecamp will provide on line manuals, videos, interactive tasks, feedback and evaluations and path management facilities. Most of the training material will also be available as printed manuals if required.
One aspect where we have raised concerns is that Basecamp will require certain configurations of software and pop-ups. We also raised concerns that some members may not want to use on-line access at all.
Sometime around May 2017 TMI will appoint a number of ¨Pathways Guides¨ who will be responsible for overseeing the roll out of pathways to multiple clubs. This role will count toward Distinguished Toastmaster status. Each club will also appoint a number of Pathways Basecamp managers to assist members.
Overall Public Speaking should remain core to Toastmasters meetings but over time we may see more real world scenarios such as interviews emerge in club activities. As the Pathways progresses we will also have the chance to give feedback to TMI.