When Did Toastmasters Start?
The first Toastmasters club was founded by Ralph Smedley in Santa Ana, California, in 1924, at a local YMCA to cover the need for speech and leadership training for young men. His initial “Ten Lessons in Public Speaking” still form the core of the Toastmasters educational program as the 10 projects of the Competent Communicator manual.
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is:
- a nonprofit organization
- comprised of over 345,000 members in over 140 countries
- represented by over 14,500 clubs, and
- dedicated to excellence in communication and leadership
Most Toastmasters clubs meet weekly for 1-2 hours, and follow a pretty basic agenda:
- Prepared speeches – Members are given opportunities to prepare, rehearse, and deliver presentations in front of their fellow members.
- Speech evaluations – Whenever members speak they receive helpful and supportive evaluations from their peers.
- Impromptu speaking – Members practice speaking “off the cuff” for 1 to 2 minutes in each meeting by responding to general topics of interest (table topics).
Who Joins Toastmasters?
Anyone over the age of 18 can join Toastmasters, provided they have the desire to improve their communication and leadership skills.
Beyond that, Toastmasters members are a diverse group, in spanning countries and cultures, and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Where Do Toastmasters Meet?
Everywhere! Well, not quite, but the network of clubs is growing. Club members meet within corporations, community centers, university and college campuses, restaurants, libraries, and many other places.