The value of a DTM award

Is it worth your time to pursue a DTM award through Toastmasters?

This is a question many active Toastmaster members struggle with, and it surprises me how many of them make their decision for the wrong reasons.

The Distinguished Toasmasters (DTM) designation is awarded to Toastmaster members who have completed all of the educational speaking and leadership requirements in the organization. These requirements (at TI’s site here) take a very real effort, not to mention some significant time.

I have listed the full requirements in a previous post. What I didn’t discuss in that posting was the value to the member who completes the award, and the value to the others in the members circle of influence (work, home, and society).

Here are some of the reasons, good and bad, that I have heard for pursuing or not completing a DTM award from current and past Toastmaster members:

1. It’s a highly respected designation. Here’s my experience on that:
– Outside of Toastmasters: “What is a DTM?”
– Existing Toastmaster DTMs: Mutual respect, to be sure
– Other advanced Toastmasters: Different levels of respect
– New Toastmasters: a mix of “What is a DTM?”, “Why would anyone do that?” and “wow.”
FAQ answer: the award is worthy of respect, but is just sometimes misunderstood.

2. Once I finish my DTM, I can relax. Ouch. The experience required to compete a DTM makes a member best experienced to help others in reaching their goals, and in helping clubs support their members. Those members who treat the DTM as a plateau may be missing their best opportunity for growth.

3.  Finishing a DTM isn’t worth my time. This one really confuses me. Any person who puts more than a few years into their Toastmaster’s experience would find it a worthy opportunity to finish the requirements to achieve their DTM. See answer 2 above to see how that leads to even more growth and experience, not to mention the opportunity to network and help others.

4. I don’t need a DTM. This one is technically true, I suppose. In my experience, this tends to be uttered as an excuse for not wanting to start/finish a High Performance Leadership (HPL) program, which usually is the last (or one of the last) achievements in the DTM program. Stop making excuses (you know who you are).

In the end, the DTM award is valuable not only it it’s own right, but more importantly in the process you follow to achieve it. It may not be easy, but then if it were too easy, what would be the point?

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