Toastmasters International gives you the opportunity to develop your communication and leadership skills within a supportive environment of like-minded people. More-experienced speakers and leaders are role models demonstrating the fundamentals of verbal communication.
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. The nonprofit organization with over 313,000 members in 14,450 clubs in 126 countries offers a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.
There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meetings is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved. As a member, you practice and improve your skills by following the assignments in the Communication and Leadership manuals. You get to practice your skills in a wide variety of roles: as a meeting participant, as a speaker, as a club officer and as a leader at some of the different levels necessary for an international organization.
Through practice within the “laboratory of communication” clubs provides, you’ll gain confidence in your abilities in delivering prepared presentations, speaking “on your feet,” using visual aids and body language, effective listening, and passing what you learn on to others. The educational material has been rigorously and professionally prepared, used by hundreds of thousands of men and women over the past decades, and improved based on their feedback.
The purpose of Toastmasters is to help members overcome apprehensions about speaking in public and to improve communication skills.
This is accomplished by providing a self-paced, focused speaking program with a supportive, experienced group of people to assist you. This mutual support will help you become more effective in several skills, including formal public presentations, individual communications, impromptu speaking situations, managing and participating in meetings, and leading and managing people.
The process of developing these skills is through the typical club meeting, which is designed to provide an opportunity to practice various techniques in a variety of situations. A normal Toastmasters meeting will, therefore, contain a number of individual sections within the meeting, as described below.
The first part of the meeting is assigned for members to practice their public speaking skills by giving a prepared presentation from one of the Educational Program manuals. Each project in a manual has a specific objective in an area that helps members practice different speaking techniques. The objectives are designed as guidelines to help you think about the various qualities that comprise a good speech. Some members may be just starting out while others may be more advanced. Remember, though all Toastmasters began just as you did and, as you learn from each project, you will be able to reach and exceed what you see in your first meetings.
In the second part of the meeting club members (and sometimes guests) practice impromptu speaking by responding to topic questions prepared by the Table Topics Master.
The third part of the meeting is critical for a successful session and it’s where members practice their listening and evaluation skills. Assigned members will give evaluations of the prepared speeches and of the meeting as a whole. These evaluations provide feedback of how the evaluators saw the presenters and will point out the positive aspects of the speech and some possible areas for improvement. Good evaluations are the hallmark of good Toastmasters.
Roles in a Meeting
Other members fill a number of roles in order to help the meeting flow smoothly and improve the quality of the meeting.
- The Toastmaster prepares and leads the meeting as “host.”
- The Table Topics Master leads the impromptu speaking portion.
- The General Evaluator conducts the evaluation portion.
- The Timer supports everyone by reminding them of their use of time.
- The Ah Counter notes any word or sound used as a crutch, so speakers can become aware and correct them.
The last part of the meeting is dedicated to club’s business. At the same time, the club practices effective meeting management skills, so that business can be handled quickly and efficiently.
Visit a Club
Visiting a club is the best way to learn more about Toastmasters. While the information contained in this web site can give you a good idea of what to expect, the best way to learn what Toastmasters can provide to you is to visit one of our clubs’ meetings. Find a club near you and contact it using the telephone number or email provided. Please take into consideration that some clubs might be closed to the general public (usually corporate clubs are open only to its employees), nevertheless, the majority of clubs are open to the public.
Visit More Than One Club
We encourage you to visit more than one club as each club has its own individual personality. Even with these different personalities, each club adheres to the core principles of Toastmasters: namely, to improve its members’ speaking skills in a supportive environment.
You Are Always Welcome
You are always welcome at club meetings. You may take part if you wish, or just watch and listen. As a guest you will be introduced so that the members of the club know who you are, and we encourage you to join us. The decision to take that first step toward becoming a better speaker, however, is entirely up to you.