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About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita,
California, the organization’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds build confidence as speakers and leaders.
The Toastmasters Journey
Toastmasters began as a series of speaking clubs organized by Ralph C. Smedley during his time working for the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in Bloomington, Illinois, United States. As director of education at the YMCA, Smedley saw a need for the men in the community to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees, and he wanted to help them. Smedley decided to organize a club where they could learn these skills in a social environment, and the men responded well to the concept. He named the group the Toastmasters Club; “toastmaster” was a popular term that referred to a person who gave toasts at banquets and other occasions.
The first unofficial Toastmasters meeting was held on March 24, 1905. Much like Toastmasters meetings today, the participants took turns leading and speaking at each meeting. Smedley and the older, more experienced men evaluated short speeches, while the younger men were invited to join in the evaluations. However, as Smedley was offered positions at other YMCAs in Illinois and later, in San Jose, California, the fledgling clubs lacked leadership and did not flourish. The Formation of Toastmasters International Smedley began working at the newly organized YMCA in Santa Ana, California, in 1922, and for the first two years, his time was spent building a home for the organization. However, his passion to help others learn to speak and lead remained. Once the new YMCA building was christened in April of 1924, he was able to introduce the idea of Toastmasters to his colleagues, and organize the Toastmasters club that eventually became Club No. 1 of Toastmasters International. The first meeting was held at the YMCA building on October 22, 1924. Word spread about Smedley’s Toastmasters clubs and soon people in surrounding communities and other states were asking how they could start their own club. To save time replying to the many letters and inquiries he was receiving, Smedley wrote the “Manual of Instructions” and “Ten Lessons in Public Speaking,” which he had printed and bound in paper covers. On October 25, 1928, he secured copyrights on the publications and trademarked the name “Toastmasters Club.”
Better Speakers and Leaders
Toastmasters is the best way for anyone—whether a working professional, student, stay-at-home parent or retiree—to improve his or her communication and leadership skills. Members overcome the fear of public speaking and learn skills that aid them in becoming more successful. Toastmasters creates better listeners and stronger team members and leaders who can comfortably give and receive constructive evaluations.
Joining a Toastmasters club is easy. A listing of clubs by geographic area can be located on the Toastmasters website at www.toastmasters.org/find. Visitors to the website can select the most convenient club, attend a meeting and apply for membership. (Applicants must be 18 or older.) New clubs can be started with permission and assistance from Toastmasters International.
How Toastmasters Works?
At Toastmasters, members learn by speaking to groups and working with others in a supportive environment. A typical Toastmasters club is made up of 20 to 30 people who meet once a week for approxi mately an hour. Each meeting gives members several opportunities:
- Conduct meetings
Members learn how to plan and conduct meetings.
- Give impromptu speechesMembers present one to two minute, impromptu speeches about assigned topics.
- Present prepared speeches
Members present speeches based on
projects from Toastmasters’ communication and leadership program. Projects cover topics such as speech organization, vocal variety, language, gestures and persuasion.
- Offer constructive evaluation
Every speaker is assigned an evaluator who points out speech strengths and offers suggestions for improvement.Toastmasters ToolsUpon joining a Toastmasters club, each new member receives resources about how to become a better speaker and a more confident leader. Members also have access to a wide variety of educational resources. In addition, they receive the award winning Toastmaster, a monthly magazine that offers the latest insights about speaking and leadership techniques.
For more information visit : www.toastmasters.org