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A Brief History of the Toastmasters Program (Article reprinted from Toastmasters International website)

More than four million men and women have benefited from the organization’s communication and leadership programs since Toastmasters began almost 90 years ago.

In October 1924, a group of men assembled by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley met in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, USA, forming a club “to afford practice and training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and to promote sociability and good fellowship among its members.” The group took the name “Toastmasters.” Soon men in other communities and states asked for permission and help to start their own Toastmasters clubs. By 1930, a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of the many clubs and to provide a standard program. The group became known as Toastmasters International when the first Toastmasters club outside of the United States chartered in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

For many years the “Home Office” of Toastmasters International was based in a series of rented office spaces. In 1962, the Toastmasters International staff moved to its first World Headquarters building in Santa Ana, California, not far from where the first club began. By the late 1980s, however, this building could no longer adequately house the increased staff needed to provide services to the growing number of Toastmasters. In 1990 World Headquarters relocated to a new building in Rancho Santa Margarita, approximately 20 miles south of Santa Ana, designed to accommodate Toastmasters International’s expected growth well into the 21st century.

Toastmasters International’s success and progress is due in large part to the ambitious development of its educational programs since the first speech manual, Basic Training, was developed by Dr. Smedley. The education system now includes both a communication track and a leadership track.

In the communication track, Toastmasters members learn communication skills as they prepare and present speeches based on projects contained in the Competent Communication or Advanced Communication manuals. In the leadership track, members learn leadership skills as they complete projects in the Competent Leadership manual and serve in various leadership roles.

Not only does Toastmasters membership grant you access to the wide-ranging educational materials available through the Toastmasters International Supply Catalog, you also receive a monthly magazine, The Toastmaster, full of well-crafted stories with style, depth and plenty of valuable tips. Club and district officers receive a bimonthly electronic newsletter, TIPS, and district officers receive the District Newsletter each month via e-mail. Toastmasters International is the undisputed world leader in public speaking training, with over 10,500 clubs and more than 211,000 members in approximately 90 countries. The 21st century will witness more people than ever benefiting from leadership and education training through Toastmasters!

A Word About Development

Your personal development is what Toastmasters is all about. Won’t you help your friends and associates grow, too? Invite them to your club. If they live in another town, send their names and contact information to World Headquarters, and they will receive a list of clubs in their area and a brochure about Toastmasters. And as the opportunity arises to form a new Toastmasters club in your community or organization, World Headquarters will be happy to help.