What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization
governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership.
The first Toastmasters club was established on October 22,
1924, in Santa Ana, California, by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, who
conceived and developed the idea of helping others to speak
more effectively. More clubs were formed, and Toastmasters
International was incorporated under California law on December
Business and services are administered by World Headquarters,
located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. It employs
no paid promoters or instructors. It has no salaried staff
except the Executive Director and World Headquarters staff,
who provide services to the clubs and Districts.
Toastmasters International is the leading movement devoted
to making effective oral communication a worldwide reality.
Through its member Clubs, Toastmasters International helps
men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinkingvital
skills that promote self-actualization, enhance leadership
potential, foster human understanding, and contribute to the
betterment of mankind. It is basic to this mission that Toastmasters
International continually expand its worldwide network of
Clubs, thereby offering ever-greater numbers of people the
opportunity to benefit from its programs.
Is this just a group for people in the USA or who speak English?
No. The organization includes approximately 175,000 members
in 70 countries, including Australia, the Bahamas, Canada,
Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines,
Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United
States of America. Toastmasters International publishes a
complete set of materials in English and basic materials in
French, Spanish, and Japanese. As translators make themselves
available, more materials are translated.
How is Toastmasters organized?
All Toastmasters members belong to one or more clubs. 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
about an hour. Each meeting gives everyone an opportunity
Conducting meetings. Meetings usually begin with a short
business session which helps members learn basic meeting procedures.
Giving impromptu speeches. Members present one-to two-minute
impromptu speeches on assigned topics.
Presenting prepared speeches. Three or more members present
speeches based on projects from the Toastmasters International
Communication and Leadership Program manuals. Projects cover
such topics as speech organization, voice, language, gestures,
Offering constructive evaluation. Every prepared speaker
is assigned an evaluator who points out speech strengths and
offers suggestions for improvement.
Where can you find us?
You can find us at B-08 on friday afternoons from 12:00 -1
Do I have to ask permission before attending a meeting of
a club in my area?
No. Walk-ins are welcome.
What's a "prepared speech"?
When you join Toastmasters you receive a basic speaking manual
with ten speech projects. Each manual project lists the objectives
for that speech and includes a written checklist for your
evaluator to use when evaluating the speech. If you're scheduled
to speak at a meeting, you generally pull out your manual
a week or two in advance and put together a speech on whatever
you like while paying attention to your goals and objectives
for that speech. When you go to the meeting, you hand your
manual to your evaluator and that person makes written comments
on the checklist while you speak. At the end of the meeting,
your evaluator will rise to give oral commentary in addition
to the written feedback. The purpose of the extensive preparation
and commentary is to show you what you're doing well, what
you need to work on, and driving these lessons home so you're
What are "Table Topics"?
Table Topics are fun! The goal is to present a one to two
minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until
the moment you get up to speak. A member of the club prepares
a few impromptu topics and calls on members to stand up and
speak on the topic. Topics might include current events (e.g.
"What would you do about Haitian boat people if you were
President?") or philosophy ("If you had no shoes
and met a man who had no feet, how would you feel?")
or the wacky ("Reach into this bag. Pull an item out.
Tell us about it.").
What is Evaluation?
The Evaluation program is the third of the three main parts
of a meeting. All prepared speakers, as noted above, should
have their speaking manuals with them and pass them onto the
evaluators before the meeting begins. During the speech, and
after, each person's evaluator should make written notes and
furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute
oral evaluation. Evaluation is tough to do well because it
requires an evaluator to do more than say "here's what
you did wrong." A good evaluator will say "here's
what you did well, and here's why doing that was good, and
here are some things you might want to work on for your next
speech, and here's how you might work on them." It's
important to remember that the evaluator is just one point
of view, although one that has focused in on your speech closely.
Other members of the audience can and should give you written
or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel important.
What's all this emphasis on time limits?
Speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits
and evaluations have time limits. By setting time limits on
speeches and presentations, participants learn brevity and
time management and the club meeting itself can be expected
to end on schedule.
I'm scared to death of speaking! Why should I look into Toastmasters?
EVERYONE is afraid of speaking. In poll after poll, "public
speaking" comes up as more feared than "death."
Even if you think you're really good at speaking, there may
be times when your heart stops and your palms sweat and you
freeze before an audience. Toastmasters can help with that.
Remember that EVERYONE in a Toastmasters club is there because
at some point they realized they needed help communicating
and speaking before audiences. A Toastmasters club is the
supportive place to practice.