December 30, 2022
5 min read
What is Toastmasters International? Do they do anything other than club meetings? What programs do they have for organizations and youth?
Toastmasters International is the world’s premier public speaking education organization. With its roots going back over 100 years, Toastmasters continues to help people of all backgrounds develop personal and professional skills that lead to satisfaction and success.
Continue reading to learn all about Toastmasters International.
What is Toastmasters International? A Colorado-based nonprofit organization, Toastmasters provides education on public speaking, communication, leadership. They do this primarily through local clubs, although they also provide online education and resources and hold various events.
Toastmasters has over 280,000 members in 15,800 clubs in 149 countries around the world.
Let’s address this question: Who is a Toastmaster? The question can be answered in three ways. These answers provide insights into our main question: What is Toastmasters International?
Who is a Toastmaster? Generically, a toastmaster is a person who—wait for it—proposes toasts. They’re also usually responsible for doing the announcements and introductions at social events.
Who is a Toastmaster? Building on this general concept, Ralph C. Smedley took the term “toastmaster” and applied it to his new creation: the Toastmasters Club. This was in 1905, and this club laid the groundwork for what would become official Toastmasters clubs and eventually Toastmasters International. (Learn about the history of Toastmasters, from 1905 to 2022.) Now, a “Toastmaster” is anyone who’s a member of Toastmasters International.
Who is a Toastmaster? In Toastmasters clubs, members take turns assuming different roles from meeting to meeting. One of those roles is the Toastmaster of the Day. This person, also simply referred to as “the Toastmaster” in that context, emcees the meeting.
Clubs are the heart of Toastmasters. Organized into regions, districts, divisions, and areas, clubs provide learning experiences for members and guests. Their culture is supportive and positive, and they encourage and equip each person to grow in communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. Clubs also offer excellent professional networking opportunities.
Toastmasters provides digital educational programs for members and non-members, and they offer in-person training opportunities for youth.
The Pathways program provides online, on-demand content in several languages. The content helps Toastmasters members develop communication and leadership skills—more than 300 individual competencies—in 11 learning paths. Paths include Effective Coaching, Motivational Strategies, Engaging Humor, and Team Collaboration.
Speechcraft is a digital educational program designed for non-members to learn public speaking, communication, and leadership skills. Experienced Toastmasters members coordinate the event and recruit people to attend.
Toastmasters has two youth programs: Youth Leadership and Interpersonal Communication.
Toastmasters has a program for Youth Leadership. It’s an eight-session workshop for people under the age of 18. In gatherings similar to Toastmasters club meetings, they learn Toastmasters skills—public speaking, communication, and leadership—and receive feedback on their speeches.
While Youth Leadership is like a Toastmasters club, the Interpersonal Communication module helps teens develop general communication skills and identify their own style. Participants complete assignments and participate in group activities.
Toastmasters resources include guides, reports, scripts, templates, videos, podcasts, statistics, data, and more. In addition to membership-related items, many Toastmasters resources are available to non-members. You can watch videos such as “5 Public Speaking Tips to Speak with Confidence” and listen to podcast episodes such as “Using Metaphors to Power Up Your Presentations.” You can access Toastmasters resources on their website.
Fast Track provides digital public speaking training for members or non-members who want to pick up some skills fast, perhaps because they have an upcoming presentation. “For the price of a latte,” participants can take a self-assessment, watch three instructional videos, record themselves giving a speech, and then take the assessment again to track their growth.
Toastmasters members get the opportunity to compete in various annual speech contests: Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, Table Topics®, and International. Winners advance to compete at the next level, eventually competing in the World Championship of Public Speaking®.
Companies such as Google, Toyota, and 3M host Toastmasters corporate clubs. These are basically Toastmasters clubs within organizations who want ready-made in-house skills development for their employees. Toastmasters corporate clubs are flexible, suitable for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.
If you want to join Toastmasters, attend a club meeting, submit an application, and pay the dues and new member fee. Each club has its own personality. You can attend as a guest for free, and there’s no obligation to join Toastmasters, so you may visit multiple clubs until you find a good fit for you. Check out the details on how to join Toastmasters and get started on their site.
Toastmasters International recently partnered with Rotary International, one of the world’s largest service organizations. Toastmasters and Rotary hold joint club meetings, and Rotarians are guest speakers at Toastmasters clubs. Rotary members may benefit from skills education through eight Toastmasters courses designed for Rotarians. Toastmasters members may take advantage of increased fellowship and networking opportunities.
Toastmasters International also parters with Yoodli. Yoodli uses AI-powered technology to provide realtime, personalized feedback on filler words, eye contact, pacing, and more. Toastmasters members will have free access to a co-branded version of Yoodli’s public speaking platform, giving them even more ways to improve their speaking skills.
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true path toward personal and professional growth, Toastmasters could be for you. Visit their website to find a club near you or a virtual club where you can learn marketable skills and make lasting connections.
Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.