What is Toastmasters?

Amazing how quickly a month goes by. I should at least set up a day of the week on which to post.

It was pointed out to me (thanks Paul!) that I never really explained what Toastmasters is.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. The organization currently has 226,000 members in 11,500 clubs in 92 countries. Some well-known Toastmasters include Peter Coors of Coors Brewing Company, Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Tom Peters, management expert and author, and Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii.

Toastmasters has been helping individuals develop communication and leadership skills since 1924. Toastmasters is for anyone over the age of 18 and members come from all walks of life. One thing they have in common is a strong desire for self–improvement and helping others. We learn best by doing. Each Toastmaster Club is a learning laboratory where you’ll enjoy experimenting, discovering and developing your potential.

Simcoe Shores Toastmasters meet on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesdays of each month at Belhaven Hall on Warden Avenue (just north of Old Homestead) from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Guests are always welcome to join us at our meetings.

Effective July 1st, I’ll be taking on the role of President for the club. I’m a little overwhelmed, but shall endeavour to do my best, which after all, is the best any of us can do. I’m also trying to keep in mind that this is a learning opportunity. My first role in Toastmasters was Secretary/Treasurer, then I was VP Public Relations last year, and now I’ll be President. With each step, I feel my confidence growing and I know I will learn a lot from this experience.

Wish me luck!





  1. paul Avatar

    Congratulations and good luck!

    Now that I know that toastmasters has nothing to do with breakfast foods, how was toastmasters founded?

  2. Suzette Avatar

    Ah, you had to ask, didn’t you. Well, it just so happens that I have the answer.

    Toastmasters begam in 1924 in Santa Ana, California, by a yong man named Ralph Smedley, who worked at the YMCA. Ralph started a club to provide communication training for the boys at the YMCA, meeting weekly. When Ralph moved to Freeport Illinois to work at the Y there, he attempted to start a similar club. The Board of Directors of that YMCA though wanted a club for themselves. They adopted the name “Toastmasters”.

    The number of clubs continued to grow. The first Canadian Toastmasters Club was opened in Victoria, B.C. somewhere around 1930, and Toastmasters became Toastmasters International.

    In 1935, a club was formed in Southport, England, which was the first club outside of North America, followed by a club in Glasgos, Scotland. In 1973, membership in Toastmasters was opened to women, the year before the 50th anniversary of that first club.

    The original educational material was a booklet called “Ten Lessons in Public Speaking” which was mimeographed and bound in a paper cover. These ten lessons were the foundation for the ten projects in the Communication and Leadership Manual. Completion of this manual earns one the distinction of Competent Communicator (formerly known as Competent ToastMaster, or CTM).

    There are now approximately ten advanced manuals in various areas such as “The Entertaining Speaker”, “Technical Presentations”, “The After Dinner Speech”. “Storytelling”, and so on. Whenever ten related projects are completed, another level in Toastmasters is achieved.

    I could go on and talk about the Leadership program, but I believe I’ve already more than answered your question!

  3. paul Avatar

    Who would have thought that Toastmasters has its roots in the YMCA!? Or that ‘Smedley’ is someone’s real name?

    For me, other than breakfast foods, toastmasters creates images of society men in full tuxedo, top hat and monocle, raising their glasses to give honour to the Queen. Hear, Hear!

    I wonder what others might imagine. Could interest be widened by communicating that Toastmasters has its roots in community and public service initiatives? Now that you are President, maybe you can ask the new VP PR to look into this?

  4. Suzette Avatar

    I will definitely try to emphasis the community aspect, as we always do. Saying that our members come from all walks of life, and is open to anyone over the age of 18 has been mentioned on every poster and every published article in the Georgina Advocate since I have been VP of Public Relations.

    But, Public Service Initiatives? Well, we have the Youth Leadership program, Outreach Programs, Speechcraft, etc. We charge for these programs, or else we couldn’t afford to run them. It’s non-profit though so the prices are reasonable.

    We also run these programs to earn credits towards our Leadership objectives, and by doing club service (like President), high performance leader program, holding officer training programs, performing area and district club duties, and so on. Everything we learn, we learn from doing and helping others to do.

    And yes, Smedley really is somebody’s name.

  5. Andrew - Six Minutes Public Speaking Avatar
    Andrew – Six Minutes Public Speaking


    There’s a very interesting progression between this post and your previous one.

    Back on May 1, you asked whether Toastmasters will change your life.

    Now, you write that “With each step, I feel my confidence growing.”

    It seems like Toastmasters has already changed your life… for the better! With the added confidence, there’s no limit to what you might accomplish.

    Congratulations on taking the plunge into being President. It is a role that I served this past year, and it was very rewarding.

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