Frequently Asked Questions
is Toastmasters International?
Toastmasters International is a
non-profit educational organization headquartered in California, U.S.A. Toastmasters International has existed for more than
eighty years. Its mission is to make effective oral communication a
world-wide reality. Mainly, this applies to improving public speaking
skills. However, there is also a leadership and management aspect to the
organization and its training.
How is Toastmasters organized?
All Toastmasters members belong to a
club. Clubs consist of at least eight members and may have forty or more.
The recommended size for a club is twenty or more. Clubs exist in
communities around the world, especially in North America. There are, at
present, over 8,000 clubs around the world.
Do I have to ask permission to attend a meeting of
Toastmasters welcomes all guests. If
you plan to visit a club you can contact the Club President or
other contact person, to let them know you plan to attend. However, it
is not necessary to call ahead. Clubs are generally
open to all and they will be delighted to have you come to the meeting.
Is Toastmasters a social or drinking organization?
The name "Toastmasters"
derives from the founding of the organization, in the 1920's, when one of
the main types of public speaking a member of society would engage in was
after dinner speaking, also known as Toast mastering.
It is rare that formal drinking
and toasts take place now and these are usually only at major banquets or
conferences. Some clubs have meals with their meetings, most do not.
Meetings last from one hour
(especially lunch or breakfast meetings) to three hours (if the club meets
infrequently). The format varies slightly from club to club but the
basics of meetings include:
- The Business Meeting (following
rules of Parliamentary Procedure, usually very brief)
- Introduction of the Toastmaster of
the meeting who presides over the program that day.
- Prepared speeches from members.
- Impromptu speeches from members
(also known as Table Topics)
- Oral evaluations of the prepared
- Reports from other meeting
personnel including the Timer, Grammarian, Ah Counter, and General
What is Table
Table topics is fun! The
purpose of Table Topics is to develop the skill of being able to speak
"off the cuff". On many occasions we are asked to comment or
contribute to a discussion with little notice or preparation. Table
Topics develops comfort and skill in handling these types of situations.
A member of the club, assigned to be
Topicsmaster for the meeting, will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on
members to stand up and speak on the topic. Members present a one to two
minute impromptu speech on the topic which is not known until they are called
to speak about it.
Table Topics might include current
events, personal opinions or memories (e.g. your favourite holiday, a person
you feel is a hero).
If you don't know anything about the
topic assigned to you, adjust your answer to something that you can speak
In Toastmasters people learn by doing
and also from the constructive feedback and support they receive from fellow
members. An evaluator gives speakers verbal and written feedback on each
speech they present. The evaluator provides a personal opinion of the
talk, pointing out its strengths and offering suggestions for improving the
next speech. Evaluations have one purpose: to help the speaker become
even more effective.
Why all the
emphasis on time limits?
As noted above, all speeches have time limits, Table topics (1-2 minutes),
evaluations (2-3 minutes), speech projects have varied time limits.
These limits are employed to train speakers to make effective use of the
time allotted and keep them fro going until the audience is bored. In
the real world there are practical limits on how long a meeting can and should
go. Many times we are given specific amounts of time to do business and
other presentations in social situations. The concentration on time
limits encourages speakers to honour the time available.
Why all the
structure to the meetings?
Meetings often have twenty or more members in attendance. The
structured meeting provides a lot of roles for people to play in order to
involve as many people as possible. Meeting assignments vary from
meeting to meeting, therefore everyone gets practice doing everything over the
course of several meetings.
At one meeting you'll be giving a
speech, the next time you might be Timer and the time after that you might be
the Toastmaster, running the whole show. This keeps you flexible and
gives you practice at a variety of communication skills including speaking,
listening, giving feedback, being creative, telling a job and so on.
Toastmasters provides two
educational tracks: a communication track in which you develop your
speaking skills and a leadership track, in which you develop leadership
skills one. You may work in both tracks at the same time, and you are
encouraged to do so. When you join Toastmasters you receive two project
manuals: Competent Communication and Competent Leadership reflecting the two
educational directions you can pursue in Toastmasters.
Members who wish
to focus on communication skills begin with the Competent Communication
The Competent Communication manual
projects develop basic speaking skills and help you acquire a basic comfort
with speaking in public. This manual has 10 speech projects, each
project builds upon what you've learned in the proceeding project. Each project calls on
you to prepare a speech of approximately 5-7 minutes on a subject of your own choosing but using certain
speaking principles. Each manual project lists the objectives for the
speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when
evaluating your speech.
The ten projects include:
- The Icebreaker - a speech about
- Organize Your Speech;
- Get to the Point (determining the purpose of
- How To Say It (using the best
words for your purpose);
- Your Body Speaks (body language, gestures);
- Research Your Topic,
- Get Comfortable With Visual Aids;
- Persuade With
- Inspire Your Audience.
All ten projects are open for you to
choose whatever topic you like. Even if you pick a controversial topic
Toastmasters audiences will evaluate you on how well you presented your
subject, not on whether they agreed with you or not.
When you have completed all ten
speech assignments in this manual you will earn the Toastmasters Competent
If you wish to continue to pursue
the Communication Track in Toastmasters you now have the opportunity to
explore the many Advanced Communication Manuals (See Educational Advancement
Advanced Communication Series
After receiving CC recognition, you
can work in the Advanced Communication Series manuals, where you’ll
refine and enhance your speaking skills and become eligible for Advanced
Communicator Bronze (ACB), Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS) and Advanced
Communicator Gold (ACG) recognition. There are 15 manuals, each containing
five speech projects. Many of the manuals are career-oriented. You choose the
manuals you want to complete and the skills you want to learn.
The Competent Leadership manual has
projects that will help you develop leadership skills (listening, critical
thinking, giving feedback, time management, planning and implementation,
organizing and delegating, facilitation skills, motivating people, mentoring
and team building while serving in various club meeting roles. It also
has specific projects, objectives to be accomplished and a section for
When you complete the Competent
Leadership manual projects you will be recognized as a Competent
After earning the CL award you can
further refine and develop your leadership skills by working in the advanced
leader program. Members working in this program are eligible for Advanced
Leader Bronze (ALB) and Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) recognition. See Educational Advancement in TI for more information about
the leadership track.
Public speaking is the world's top
fear. In poll after poll public speaking comes up as something more
feared than death. Toastmasters can help you overcome your fear.
Everyone in a Toastmasters clubs
joined because they realized they needed help communicating and speaking in
public. Members remember how they felt when they gave their first
speech. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out how supportive
members of a Toastmasters club are.
Do you consider yourself a good
speaker? People sometimes join Toastmasters to learn how to enhance
their delivery, better structure their presentations or improve their rapport
with the audience. Even if you are a good speaker you can always get
better. Toastmasters can help you improve as a speaker.
If you still don't know if you would
benefit from Toastmasters, visit a meeting to see the program in action.
The club members will be happy to meet you.
Toastmasters more beneficial than other forms of speaking improvement?
Many other public speaking courses
involve sitting through hours of lecture with one or two speaking
opportunities. Toastmasters promotes constant reinforcement and ongoing
improvement - you truly learn by doing.
How can I join?
To join Toastmasters you join a
club. If you have visited a club and found it to your liking, ask for a
Membership Application Form. New members are always welcomed
much does membership cost?
When joining Toastmasters, you will
find yourself paying a fee which may include three different components. One
is the standard fee that every new member must pay in order to receive their
educational materials (see "new member fee" below). One is the
standard Toastmasters International monthly membership fee. One is your club
dues, if any.
All Toastmasters clubs are billed
in March and September for semi- annual dues for their members who wish to
remain members for the next six months. If you join in between those
periods, you submit a pro-rated share of the dues. Clubs usually charge dues
in addition to the world dues. Each club decides what it needs to charge
(for meeting space charges, etc.).
For most clubs the annual
membership fee is approximately $200.
What do I get for my new member fee?
Your new member fee covers the cost
of the following manuals which you will receive upon joining or shortly
thereafter: the Competent Communication manual, the Competent Leadership
manual, Gestures - Your Body Speaks, Effective Evaluation and Your Speaking Voice.
The latter three are instructional manuals rather than project manuals.
Are my dues tax
In Canada they are -- it is an
educational expense and is tax deductible provided it is $100.00 or more.
Your club will issue you with a tax receipt each year.
What do I get for my
Your semi-annual dues paid to World
Headquarters go partly for a subscription to the Toastmaster magazine,
partly to support development of new educational programs, partly to support
operations at World Headquarters, and partly to support your local District
What should my
objectives be as a new
One objective should be to
attend every meeting you can and participate to the fullest, helping
yourself and the other members of the club to become better communicators.
The other should be to work on your speech projects working toward your
leadership and/or your communication
The Toastmasters program now has two types of skill that it develops -
communication and leadership skills. People can decide to focus on one
or the other of these types of skills. Or they can pursue both types
of training during the course of their membership.
Do I have to give all the speeches at Toastmasters
No. So long as you are giving the
speech to an audience with at least one Toastmasters member in attendance,
and so long as a fellow Toastmaster completes the manual evaluation for that
project, you may count that speech as a completed project assignment.
Competent Communicator is the basic speaking certification offered
through Toastmasters. To earn this designation you have to complete the
Competent Communication manual, which means you have to work
your way through the ten speech projects contained therein.
Do I have to work through the
Competent Communication manual
in the order the projects are given?
No. You can do the projects out of
order if you like. However, it is recommended that you follow the order
given since the projects progress upwards in difficulty but if you have a
speech idea or opportunity that better suits one of the later projects you
may skip over earlier ones and do that one first.
It is not recommended that you
skip around through the first six speeches, as each assignment builds on
information and skills learned in the previous assignments.
After completing the
Competent Communicator manual you can begin refining and enhancing your
basic speaking skills through the Advanced Communication manuals.
What are the
The Toastmasters International Advanced Communication and Leadership program
focus on more specialized speaking opportunities. These manuals give
speakers instructions and suggestions on how to handle these more advanced
speaking assignments and allow Toastmasters members to hone their skills in
specific areas of interest or to explore new territory they have never tried
Unlike the Competent Communicator manual, which encourages the speaker
to carry out the assignments in the order they are listed in the manual,
speakers doing advanced manual speeches can choose whatever manuals they
wish and can do the assignments in any order.
The advanced manuals take you from being a competent speaker to being an
effective, performer and leader. These manuals offer new projects,
covering a variety of public speaking and communication skills.
Members can chose projects from whichever manuals are of interest to
them. The timing of the assignments in these manuals is generally
longer than the 5-7 time limit for the Competent Communication manual.
The Advanced Manuals include:
- Entertaining Speaker
- Speaking to Inform
- Public Relations
- Discussion Leader
- Specialty Speeches
- Speeches by Management
- Professional Speaker
- Humorously Speaking
- Technical Presentations
- Persuasive Speaking
- Communicating on Television
- Interpretive Reading
- Interpersonal Communication
- Special Occasion Speeches
Competent Leadership manual
is the core of the
leadership track. It features 10 projects, which you complete while
serving in various club meeting roles.
After earning the CL award you can further refine and develop your
leadership skills by working in the advanced leader program. Members
working in this program are eligible for Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) and
Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) recognition.
Toastmasters Recognition System
Competent Communicator (CC)
Requirements: Completed the
Competent Communication manual.
Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)
Achieved Competent Communicator (CC).
Completed two Advanced Communication manuals.
Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS)
Achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)
Completed two additional advanced manuals (not those completed for any
Conducted any two programs from the Better Speaker Series and/or The Successful
Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG)
Achieved Advanced Communicator Silver
Completed two additional advanced manuals (not those completed for any
Conducted a Success/Leadership program, Success/Communication
program or a Youth Leadership program
Coached a new member with their first three speeches
Completed the Competent Leadership manual
Advanced Leadership Bronze (ALB)
Achieved Competent Leader
Achieved Competent Communicator
Served at least six months as a club officer
While serving as a club officer, participated in Club Officer training
Conducted any two programs from the Successful Club series and/or the
Leadership Excellence Series
Advanced Leader Silver (ALS)
Achieved Advanced Leader Bronze
Served a complete term as district officer (e.g. area governor)
Completed the High Performance Leadership program
Served successfully as a club sponsor, mentor or coach
Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)
Distinguished Toastmaster is the highest recognition a member may
Achieved Advanced Communicator Gold
Achieved Advanced Leader Silver
What is the High Performance Leadership Program?
High Performance Leadership is program that offers instruction and practice
in such vital leadership skills and activities as developing a mission and
vision, goal setting and planning, identifying values and building a team.
The program requires you to assume a leadership role in y our company, community
or Toastmasters club or District. A Guidance Committee you have selected
by you offers advice and evaluates your efforts.
What are the Better Speaker Series and the Successful Club Series?
Both are sets of programs developed by Toastmasters International to further
develop speaking and training skills of members.
The modules come complete with instruction manuals for the participants and
for the coordinator as well as transparencies to use during the session.
The Better Speaker Series programs offer practical tips on
speaking. Modules include: Beginning Your Speech, Concluding Your Speech,
Creating an Introduction, Using Body Language and more....
The Successful Club Series programs discuss what members can do to
make their club successful. Topics include: The Moment of Truth, Evaluate
to Motivate, Meeting Roles and Responsibilities, Going Beyond Our Club...
Other Skill Building Programs from TI
As if all the above were not enough to occupy one for a lifetime,
Toastmasters International offers several other speaking projects to help you
develop your leadership and communication skills including:
- Speechraft - speech training program for prospective members,
- Youth Leadership - speech training program for youth
- How to Listen Effectively
- The Art of Effective Evaluation
- Build Your Thinking Power,
- From Speaker to Trainer
- How to Conduct Productive Meetings
- Parliamentary Procedure in Action
- Leadership Excellence Series
- Building Your Leadership Power
- Improving Your Management Skills
For more information about any or all of these programs or to purchase copies
visit the Toastmasters International
In order to provide for members who enjoy competitive speaking and in order
to "showcase the best speakers", Toastmasters clubs hold speech
contests. Each contest starts at the club level and works its way up the
Toastmasters organization. One contest (International Speech Contest)
culminates at the Toastmasters International World Convention each August.
Toastmasters Speech Contests are:
- International speech Contest - 5 to 7 minutes in length on any
To provide an opportunity an opportunity for speakers to improve their
speaking abilities and to recognize the best as an encouragement to all.
- Table Topics - 1 to 2 minutes in length. Impromptu speaking.
All contestants are assigned the same impromptu topic to address.
Contest progresses as far as the District level.
- Evaluation - 2 to 3 minutes in length. A target speaker gives a
speech which all the evaluation contests are to evaluate. The
contestants are taken from the room and given five minutes to prepare their
It proceeds as far as the District level.
- Humorous - 5 to 7 minutes on a topic selected by the speaker.
The Humourous and Table Topics contests are held in the Fall, the International
and Evaluation contests in the Spring.
Are you competitive? Then the Toastmasters Speech Contests are for you!
Does the Toastmasters program offering training for children?
To join Toastmasters you must be 18 years of age. There is one
program, called Youth Leadership, which some Toastmasters members
offer to children. The course is an 8-12 week program which covers the
basic skills members practice in a club. Watch for announcements of
these program in your local paper or contact a local club to find out if
anyone will be offering the course.