The Background of Toastmasters
Toastmasters is the brainchild of Dr. Ralph Smedley, who was a Director of Education of the YMCA. He saw the need for the men in the community to learn to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees and decided to organize a club where they could learn these skills. Given his continuing passion he was able to organize the Toastmasters Club that became No. 1 of Toastmasters International. The first meeting of that Club was held in Santa Ana, California on October 22, 1924. While emerging from an all men’s organization, the rules were changed in 1973 to allow women to join the Club.
Toastmasters was introduced in St. Lucia about four decades ago. Currently there are two Toastmasters Clubs in Saint Lucia. The NIC Toastmasters Club and the Saint Lucia Public Service Toastmasters Club.
What Toastmasters Offers to Members
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that through dynamic programs has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders.
With Toastmasters the member never stops learning. Toastmasters help an individual:
Improve their Public Speaking Skills,
Build Leadership skills
Maximize their potential
Enjoy Unlimited personal growth
Work on networking in a small and supportive environment
Practice writing speeches and presenting in a group setting
Gain a competitive advantage in the workplace
Build self-confidence and self-awareness
Toastmasters new Education Program Pathways, which members transitioned fully into this year is an exciting, flexible and interactive way to learn communication and leadership skills. It consists of eleven specialized paths with the opportunity to build 300 unique competencies and members can choose from those paths based on their specific needs.
The Toastmasters Network
Today Toastmasters membership exceeds 364,000 in 16,200 clubs in 145 countries. Corporations can choose to have a corporate Toastmasters Club or opt to support employee membership in a Toastmasters Club in order to promote the development of their human resource competencies.
Members have opportunities to participate in regional, district and international conferences, speech and other contests and serve at various levels within the Toastmasters International Organizational structure.
Other Toastmaster Learning Opportunities
Through Gavel Clubs, Toastmasters Programs extend to groups who are not eligible for regular Toastmasters membership either due to age or other circumstances. These Clubs follow the Toastmasters meeting protocols.
The Speechcraft Program which is usually presented to non-members by experienced Toastmasters touches on the fundamentals of public speaking. The content is usually delivered in four, six or eight sessions depending on the pace and schedule.
Interpersonal Communication is a Toastmasters Youth Communication module that can be used by teachers, youth program administrators and other adult community members who mentor teenagers.
The Youth Leadership program enables young persons under the age of 18 to develop their communication and leadership skills through practical experience including preparing and giving speeches, giving impromptu talks, controlling their voice, vocabulary and gestures, evaluating their own speaking ability, giving constructive feedback and proper meeting procedure among others.
The Toastmasters Magazine is a monthly resource of interesting articles, news, tips and advice in furtherance of the development of communication and leadership skills.
Covid-19 and Toastmasters
The onset of Covid-19, although it has eliminated the possibility for many Clubs throughout the world to have face to face meetings, it has opened a plethora of new and exciting opportunities. Through online Club meetings one can ‘travel’ to Haiti for a meeting at 4:00 p.m. and join another meeting in Jamaica at 7:00 p.m. This one space has created the opportunity to attend meetings anywhere in the world, make presentations and even accelerate one’s progress as a Toastmaster. The Toastmasters experience is tremendously enriched as this new norm has expanded networking, exposure to varying styles of presentations and Club support. Face to face meetings will however re-convene when it is appropriate to do so.
Toastmasters International is indisputably a world leader in providing opportunities for the development of communication and leadership skills and promoting Better Listening, Thinking and Speaking.
To learn more about toastmasters you may email: NIC Toastmasters at #firstname.lastname@example.org