Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International
Toastmasters logo
Abbreviation TI, TM
Formation October 22, 1924; 94 years ago (1924-10-22)
Legal status Non-profit organization
Purpose Educational
Headquarters 9127 South Jamaica Street, Englewood, Colorado, US
Membership (2018)
International President
Lark Doley, DTM
Revenue (2016)
Staff (2016)
Volunteers (2016)

Toastmasters International (TI) is a US headquartered nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication and public speaking skills.


The father of Toastmasters, Ralph C. Smedley's theory about good speaking, simply put, is that a person should address a group just as he or she would one person.[4]

Conception of the Idea

In order to aid people to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees, Smedley had started the speaking club - Smedley Chapter One Club on March 24, 1905 in Bloomington, Illinois, United States[5]. which would later be known as the first unofficial Toastmasters club. Laying the foundational methodologies which are followed in the Toastmasters meeting even today, the members took turns speaking and taking part in leadership in every meeting. Smedley and other more experienced men evaluated the short speeches given by younger men willing to improve. However, he had to eventually relocate and the lack of proper leadership and direction at the time did not allow the nascent club to grow.

Toastmasters organization

Toastmasters organization started as a series of speaking clubs when Smedley saw the need of interpersonal skills pertaining to communication[6], management and leadership in the community during his position as the director of education at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California[7]. In the April of 1924, he organized the first official club in the newly built YMCA building that eventually became Club No. 1 of Toastmasters International.

The word about the club spread quickly and people in neighbouring communities and other states started asking Smedley how they could start their own club. Smedley decided to write the "Manual of Instructions" and "Ten Lessons in Public Speaking," in order to save time from writing redundant letters and replying to queries and inquiries about the same, he printed the guidelines and bound them in paper covers. On October 25, 1928, he secured copyrights on the publications and trademarked the name "Toastmasters Club." He based the name on the popular word: "toastmaster" which refers to the person who gives toasts at events, gatherings and occasions.

Toastmasters International

By 1930, close to 30 Toastmasters clubs had started including a club in British Columbia, Canada. In order to garner traction and secure expansion outside of the United States, the newly formed organization was renamed to Toastmasters International. A couple of years later, in 1932[7][8], Toastmasters International was incorporated as a Californian non-profit organization and Smedley took multiple positions such as that of Secretary and Editor in the new association.

Smedley resigned as YMCA Secretary in 1941 to devote more time to Toastmasters. Through the war years, he operated the organization out of a small office. However, when the war ended, a new secretary, Ted Blanding, replaced him and Smedley remained active as Educational Director for the rest of his life, as well as a permanent member of the Board of Directors till his death in 1965.

The first international chapter was established in Vancouver, Canada in 1932 and in 1970, Toastmasters International admitted its first female member, Helen Blanchard, under the name Homer Blanchard. In 1973, Toastmasters began officially admitting women[7][9], and in 1985, Helen became Toastmasters' first female international president.

Terrence McCann, an Olympic wrestler, was chosen in 1975 to serve as the Executive Director of Toastmasters International, a position he held until 2001. He was replaced by Donna Groh (2001–2008) and then Daniel Rex (2008 to present).[5]

Throughout its history, Toastmasters has served over four million people, and today the organization serves over 357,000 members in 143 countries, through its 16,600 member clubs.[2] Toastmasters membership increased rapidly around the turn of the century, nearing 16,000 clubs worldwide by 2016.[10]

World Headquarters

A series of rented office spaces in Southern California served as Toastmasters International's headquarters until 1962, when the staff moved into the first World Headquarters building in Santa Ana, not far from the YMCA where the first Toastmasters club met. The principal place of business of Toastmasters International is World Headquarters, located in Englewood, Colorado.

Toastmasters International employs more than 150 professionals at World Headquarters.

Toastmasters Club Structure

India’s first Hindi Speaking Club, Srujan Hindi Toastmasters, Pune in District 98, Region 13

Toastmasters International uses a local club-based structure, each having around 20–40 members. Meetings are held every week or other week and usually in the evening, although some clubs meet in the morning or afternoon.[7][6][8] Each club operates as a separate entity with a set of requirements leading to chartered status for them to be recognised as official Toastmasters clubs. Chartered status allows for clubs to use the names, promotional material and programme of Toastmasters International.[11]

There are traditionally two tracks in the Toastmasters program, the communication track and the leadership track. The core of the communication track is the Competent Communicator manual which contains 10 speech projects to help gain the basic skills needed to present an effective speech. The core of the leadership track is the Competent Leader manual which contains 10 leadership projects to help develop the basic skills needed to be an effective leader.[12]

Club Membership

Toastmasters clubs are either restricted or community based. The restricted clubs generally reside within the premises of a corporation or need certain conditions to be met by prospective members. The community clubs on the other hand are open to anyone who wants to attend the meetings. However, only a member is allowed to deliver prepared speeches or take part in leadership activities and move along the educational track. Although, in certain community clubs, non-members are allowed to participate in table topics to get a feel of the atmosphere of the club. In order to become a member of the club, international dues of $45 USD need to be paid every six months when membership needs to be active, plus a one-time new member fee of $20.

Although, the fundamental structure of the organization is fallaciously similar to that of a pyramid scheme[13], in reality it is not. Toastmasters does offer tangibly valuable services i.e. improvement in public speaking and leadership qualities which are deemed to be significant amongst the 21st century skills. In addition, the membership can be paused or discontinued thus making Toastmasters much more flexible than any multi-level marketing model.

Meeting Format

Part of meetings is devoted to Table Topics, which are off-the-cuff speeches which are assigned on the spot by a Topics master. The goal of this is to think on one's feet with minimal preparation. In some clubs attendees are then asked to vote on who they thought gave the best speech.[7][6][8]

Every meeting is based around a set of organised speeches. Speakers are evaluated by an experienced member who then gives an impromptu speech with constructive feedback based on their performance.[14]

Public speaking championship

Toastmasters runs an international public speaking championship formally known as the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking, which is held annually at its International Convention in August.[15][16][17][18] It started in 1938 and involves over 33,000 participants in 141 countries making it the world's largest speech contest.[16][19] There is a six-month process of elimination to reach the semifinals, in which in 2018 there were 106 participants who got that far. There are ten places in the final and speeches are judged on content, gestures, organisation and style.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Ralph C. Smedley Memorial Fund contribution form" (PDF). Toastmasters International. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "All About Toastmasters". Toastmasters International. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Form 990 of Toastmasters International, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2016" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  4. ^ "Smedley: A Quiet Man With Lots to Say About Speech". Los Angeles Times. October 29, 1994. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Toastmasters International -History". Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Synge, Daniel (September 12, 1995). "How to speak in public". The Independent. London. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Scott, Majorie (November 1990). "Out of the Past: Toasting the Toastmasters". Orange Coast (November 1990). pp. 45–46. Retrieved June 12, 2018 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b c "'Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking...'". Changing Times (The Kiplinger Magazine). The Kiplinger Washington Editors. April 1970. pp. 17–18. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Laviola, Karen (October 24, 1989). "A toast to Toastmasters' 65 years". Orange County Register.
  10. ^ Blake, John (October 14, 2016). "Stop texting and start speaking: The Olympians of storytelling show you how". CNN. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Dewey, Larry (January 1966). "Score Yourself as a Public Speaker" (PDF). Montana Prison News (Volume VII, No. 1). pp. 51–52. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  12. ^ "Toastmasters International -Traditional Education Program". Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  13. ^ "Why I joined the only successful pyramid scheme – Leonardo's blog". Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  14. ^ Delacruz, Bernard (PhD) (June 2016). "My Road to Toastmasters" (PDF). Postscripts (Vol 6, No 44). American Medical Writers Association – Pacific Southwest Chapter. pp. 96–97. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Mooney, Harrison (August 28, 2017). "Vancouver lends an ear to world's best speakers; Toastmasters holds 86th convention, crowns new international champion". The Vancouver Sun.
  16. ^ a b Nasir, Noorain (October 26, 2014). "Winning with Words". The Hindu. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  17. ^ Murphy, Dave (March 20, 2002). "Sometimes you can be a successful flop". Chicago Tribune.
  18. ^ Basheda, Lori (August 26, 2001). "Stand and deliver Speaking Toastmasters select their world champion, whose theme is failure's value. Series". Orange County Register.
  19. ^ a b "Resident of France is semifinalist in the world's largest speech contest". Bangkok Post. June 1, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.

Further reading

  • Smedley, Ralph (1959). The Story of Toastmasters. Toastmasters International.

External links