From a humble beginning in 1924 at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization now has nearly 220,000 members in 11,300 clubs in 90 countries, offering a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.
Most Toastmasters meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.
There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved.
Good communicators tend to be good leaders. Some well-known Toastmasters alumni include:
* Peter Coors of Coors Brewing Company
* Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies
* Tom Peters, management expert and author
* Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii