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Achieve DTM in 12 months: My Journey to Toastmasters

The Pathways Program was officially launched in Qatar in 2018 starting a new road for toastmasters. The new members found this was a good opportunity to start their educational progress. “You can achieve your DTM award within two years! Isn’t that great?” said Raghavan Menon, DTM, in his opening of the orientation session for Pathways which was, at that time, completely new to members. Raghavan saw potential but Lesiley found an opportunity. He underestimated the QTM members’ capabilities! Lesiley was able to complete the pathways in just one year!

As a dedicated QTM member and a mother of two, this IT professional set an example when despite all her challenges she emerged as the first person to earn the award in the whole of District 116P. So what’s so special about this Qatar-born US citizen and Doha resident? How can others follow her footsteps to achieve the highest educational level in Toastmasters?

Lesiley is a US and Indian citizen, born and raised in Qatar. She has a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering and double masters in information systems (Scotland, UK) and masters in computing (USA). She has been working in IT for the past 15 years and she’s an IT project manager in a major US firm in Qatar. After a miserable speaking experience in 2014, she decided to join Toastmasters.

What tips you would offer to other members who are already enrolled or planning to follow the Pathways?

Taking fourteen speeches in one path may seem daunting, but it's not. If you take one speech at a time. Level 1 is really easy: 1. Icebreaker project – you just need to talk about yourself - write a speech of 600 words - do you really need help for that?

2. Evaluation and Feedback - Write a 700-word speech about someone who has really inspired you or helped you and talk about what you learned! - You repeat this speech a second time with feedback from the evaluator who evaluated this speech the first time. The third part of this project is for you to be an evaluator too and mention the strong points that you see in a speaker and one or two suggestions to the speaker based on your observations of the speaker.

3. Research - Take a problem from your life and research what could have been possible solutions and how can you overcome it. Some topic examples: a bad boss, improving your marriage, how to work with a strong-willed child, struggling as a leader, trying to find a job in this market, loneliness, anger management, improving job skills, dealing with an overpowering mother in law :), handling criticism, health issues - all of us have problems. Find the most pressing problem in your life, google it, and research how to fix it - for all you know, the audience may also be suffering from it. Level 2 is even easier:

4. Understanding your communication style / leadership style - All you need to do is to take a quiz and discover your style.

For understanding your communication style, understand your personality type. Then think of people in your life who have another communication style, and remember an incident of how you interact with them. For example, I could identify that I was the social type, and I thought about the people in my life - I could identify my best friend's style - being supportive, and I could identify my husband's style - being analytical. I soon realized that there were many incidents in my life that were funny because of the difference in our communication styles, and that became my speech. For understanding your leadership style, take the quiz and identify what type of a leader you were. Then recall an incident or a project where you had to be a leader, and how that leadership style affected your project, and what lessons you learned when you led the project. There's your speech of 700 words.