What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a worldwide non-profit organisation devoted to public speaking. The organisation has 280,000 members spread across 13,500 clubs in over 100 countries and provides a structured and enjoyable way for people to practice and improve their communication and leadership skills.
Toastmasters clubs meet up on a regular basis (typically two or three times a month for a couple of hours) to give members an opportunity to put their skills into practice. There is no instructor – constructive feedback is provided by other members with the emphasis on what was done well but also touching upon areas that could be improved.
Members may opt to have a mentor – usually a more experienced member of the same club – who provides advice, encouragement and support.
In addition to regular meetings there are special workshops, competitions, and other events organised throughout the year.
How does it work?
Toastmasters is very much focussed on “learning by doing” and each meeting provides a safe environment for members to practice and develop skills from two core competencies:
- Communication skills are developed by working through the Competent Communication Programme manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to build a solid foundation in public speaking. Participants learn skills related to use of humour, gestures, eye contact, speech organization and overall delivery.
- Leadership skills are developed by taking on various meeting roles (such as evaluator, timekeeper or toastmaster) and (optionally) serving as officers at the club and district levels, and by working through the Competent Leadership Programme manual. We don’t lecture our members about leadership skills; we give them responsibilities and ask them to lead.