Within Toastmasters, the highest level you can reach is Distinguished Toastmaster: DTM. One of our members, Michael, has been a DTM for several years. How did he achieve it? Here’s his story.
How I became a Distinguished Toastmaster
Michael J Clarke DTM
I was a founder of Leeds City Toastmasters in Spring 2002. I’ll be honest I knew nothing about Toastmasters International until an acquaintance asked if I’d like to meet someone who was going to explain what Toastmasters was.
My view is that until you say “No” to an opportunity it is still a Maybe, and so I went to the meeting. It all seemed very interesting and
I agreed to be one of three to have a launch meeting a few weeks later.
The launch meeting of Leeds City Toastmasters and within weeks we had the twenty members required to charter the club. This was the first club between Birmingham and Edinburgh. There are now around twenty or more clubs flourishing in the North of England.
As a founder I agreed to be Vice-President – Membership although I’ll be honest I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. The following year I agreed to be President.
The club grew quickly and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed meetings but had little understanding of the full Toastmasters programme or the clubs place in the worldwide organisation.
We started to compete in Area & Division speech contests and got to meet members from other clubs around Birmingham. We also attended Club Officer training days where I learned so much.
I have to admit I still had no desire or goal to become a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest level you can achieve in Toastmasters
In July 2007 I became Area Governor (now Director) for Area 15 which consisted of clubs in Leeds, York and Manchester. I found it fascinating how each club was different and yet the same.
I was contacted soon into my year of office whether I’d be supporting the District Conference that was going to be Harrogate. I’d no idea what a District Conference was but as it was in my Area 15 domain, myself and quite a few others did attend. In fact we actually agreed to run the Conference two years later in York.
At this point I began to appreciate what I could achieve in Toastmasters and my life. This mainly came from meeting members from all over the UK and Ireland, and in fact other parts of the World.
I became Division E Governor the following year supporting clubs from Plymouth to Inverness – a lot of travelling but I loved it.
I also got involved with founding clubs in Doncaster and Hull and the chartering of Sheffield, A1 Speakers in Newcastle and White Rose Speakers in Leeds.
I achieved my Distinguished Toastmaster award in 2011 and in many ways I’m just as proud of this award as I am my professional qualification. I always put DTM as part of the letters after my name. I’ve gone on to be Area 51 Director, club President at Hull Speakers and been senior member of the Conference team for the 2017 District Conference in Sheffield.
Becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster is something I’ve been proud to achieve. Yes, it has taken a quite a bit of dedication and input but it is proof that for all you put into Toastmasters you get back far far more – in fact shed loads more.
Michael J Clarke DTM