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 19, 1932.

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 thinking—vital 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 to practice:

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, and persuasion.

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 P.M.

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 constantly improving.

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.




District 65 Website

Toastmasters International

Brief History of the Toastmasters Program

Vision, Mission & Strategic Plan

10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking


Toastmasters International / Design Ashok Subramanian