Toastmasters International

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Toastmasters International
AbbreviationTI, TM
FormationOctober 22, 1924; 99 years ago (1924-10-22)
Legal statusNon-profit organization
Headquarters9127 South Jamaica Street, Englewood, Colorado, US
Membership (2020)
International President
Matt Kinsey
Revenue (2016)
Staff (2016)
Volunteers (2016)

Toastmasters International (TI) is a US-headquartered nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping people develop communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.


On 24 March 1905, Dr Ralph C. Smedley, a 1903 graduate from Illinois Wesleyan University, who was also the educational director for Bloomington YMCA in Illinois, started a club in a dinner meeting, to train young boys and men in speech, to face an audience, and to express their thoughts. He envisioned it as a weekly social club, with training programs for short speeches, debates, and work in chairmanship. The members took turn to speak in 5 to 6 minutes while the elder men served as speech evaluators. George Sutton, General Secretary of YMCA, named the club "a Toastmasters Club". Smedley later noticed a significant improvement in his members' speeches and leadership abilities. When YMCA transferred Smedley to another city named Freeport in Illinois, he decided to expand his club to the new city.[4]

The organization grew out of a single club founded by Smedley on October 22, 1924, at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, United States.[5] It originated as a set of classes with the aim of improving the communication skills of the young men under his charge.[6][7] Toastmasters International was incorporated under Californian law on December 19, 1932.[5][8]

The first international chapter was established in Vancouver, Canada, in 1932. The organization began admitting women in 1973.[5][9]

In 1999, Toastmasters International (TI) had 170,000 members spanning 68 countries.[4] By 2016, TI had 16,000 clubs worldwide.[10]

Toastmasters club structure[edit]

Toastmasters International uses a local club-based structure, with an average club size of around 22 members. Meetings are held every week or every other week and usually in the evening, although some clubs meet in the morning or afternoon.[5][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. The chartered status allows clubs to use the names, promotional material and program of Toastmasters International.[11]

Every meeting is based on a set of organized speeches. Speakers are given feedback, often by a more experienced member, who then gives an impromptu speech with constructive feedback based on their performance.[12]

Part of the meetings is devoted to Table Topics, which are impromptu speeches that are assigned on the spot by a Topicsmaster. The goal of this is to think on one's feet with minimal preparation. In some clubs, attendees are then asked to vote on whom they thought gave the best speech.[5][6][8]

Education programs[edit]

Toastmasters International places a large emphasis on building the public speaking and leadership skills of its members.[12] The current education system Pathways consists of eleven differing paths suited to their needs and requirements, based around Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Management, Strategic Leadership, and Confidence. Each path consists of 14 projects.[13] Content consists of online and print materials, it being the first time in the organization’s history to provide modern technology in its programme.[13][14] Content is available in English,[15] and as of 2023, translations are available in 10 languages.[16] Speechcraft is a 4- to 8-week program with materials hosted online and is conducted by experienced Toastmasters members for non-members.[17] To develop leadership skills, members lead at the club, area, or district levels, focus on content development, and participate in speech contests.[18]

Public speaking championship[edit]

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.[19][20][21][22] It started in 1938 and involves over 33,000 participants in 141 countries, making it the world's largest oratory contest.[20][23] There is a six-month process of elimination to reach the semifinals; in 2018, there were 106 participants who made it that far. There are ten places in the final, and speeches are judged on content, gestures, organization, and style.[23]

Toastmasters Communications and Leadership Award[edit]

On April 27, 2024, Toastmasters International District 40 presented NAACP Dayton Unit President and NAACP Image Award winner Dr. Derrick L. Foward with the Communication and Leadership Award during their Annual Conference in Fairborn, Ohio.[24]

Luvenia Boyer, DTM District Director for Toastmasters District 40, presents Communication and Leadership Award to Dr. Derrick L. Foward, President of the Dayton Unit NAACP

See also[edit]

List of notable members


  1. ^ "Ralph C. Smedley Memorial Fund contribution form" (PDF). Toastmasters International. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  2. ^ "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. ^ a b Levine Bremen, Ellen Beth (January 1, 1999). "Welcome, fellow toastmasters": The history and membership of a public speaking phenomenon (Masters of Arts Degree thesis). University of Nevada, Las Vegas. doi:10.25669/f0y4-w1ku.
  5. ^ a b c d e Scott, Majorie (November 1990). "Out of the Past: Toasting the Toastmasters" (Digitised magazine). Orange Coast. No. November 1990. pp. 45–46. Retrieved June 12, 2018 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c Synge, Daniel (September 12, 1995). "How to speak in public". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on June 21, 2022. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  7. ^ Hamashige, Hope (October 29, 1994). "Smedley: A Quiet Man With Lots to Say About Speech". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Archived from the original on November 25, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  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. Vol. VII, no. 1. pp. 51–52. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Delacruz, Bernard (PhD) (June 2016). "My Road to Toastmasters". Postscripts. Vol. 6, no. 44. American Medical Writers Association – Pacific Southwest Chapter. pp. 96–97. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Toastmasters modernizes its education program with Pathways". Bangkok Post. June 22, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  14. ^ Majumdar, Meghna (March 6, 2018). "Pathways: Toastmasters' programme goes online". The Hindu. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Bauldry, Jess (May 31, 2018). "Public speaking in Luxembourgish". Delano – Luxembourg in English. Luxembourg. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  16. ^ "Toastmasters International -Translated Options". Retrieved December 23, 2023.
  17. ^ "Toastmasters International -Speechcraft". Retrieved December 23, 2023.
  18. ^ Sha, Mandy; Lee, Cassandra (2023). If we can do it, you can, too! Inspirations from award-winning speakers & leaders. Amazon Digital Services LLC - Kdp. ISBN 9798379235413.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ a b Nasir, Noorain (October 26, 2014). "Winning with Words". The Hindu. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  21. ^ Murphy, Dave (March 20, 2002). "Sometimes you can be a successful flop". Chicago Tribune.
  22. ^ Basheda, Lori (August 26, 2001). "Stand and deliver Speaking Toastmasters select their world champion, whose theme is failure's value. Series". Orange County Register.
  23. ^ a b "Resident of France is semifinalist in the world's largest speech contest". Bangkok Post. June 1, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  24. ^ "Toastmasters to honor NAACP's Foward".

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]