My Fellow Toastmasters . . . Public Speaking

In a survey of worst fears, public speaking was second only to death. Many years ago, Dr. Ralph C. Smedley recognized the need to overcome this fear. In October 1924, a group of men led by Dr. Smedley met in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, California. Their purpose? To form an association “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.” They called themselves “Toastmasters.”

The innovative group was onto something. Soon, men in other communities asked for assistance in forming Toastmasters chapters of their own. By 1930, a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of the many clubs and provide a standard program. When a speaking club in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, expressed interest in forming a Toastmasters club, the group became known as Toastmasters International.

Growing Strong
For many years, Toastmasters International met in 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 growing staff needed to provide services to the growing number of Toastmasters. In 1990, World Headquarters relocated to a new building in Rancho Santa Margarita. The building is designed to accommodate Toastmasters International’s expected growth well into the 21st century.

On A Roll
Toastmasters International’s success and growth is due to the continued development of educational programs. The organization has come a long way since the first speech manual, Basic Training, was developed more than 50 years ago. The current manual, called the “Communication and Leadership Program,” was updated in 1996. Upon completing all 10 speeches, members may apply for their Competent Toastmaster (CTM) award and choose from any combination of 15 advanced manuals

. Options For Learning

Educational materials are wide ranging. They include the Success/Leadership and Success/Communication Series, The Better Speaker Series, and the High Performance Leadership Program. The education system includes both a communication track and a leadership track. The communication track award progression features the CTM, Advanced Toastmaster Bronze (ATM-B), Advanced Toastmaster Silver (ATM-S), and Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATM-G); the leadership track award progression includes Competent Leader (CL) and Advanced Leader (AL). The Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) remains the highest award.

In addition, members receive a monthly publication, The Toastmaster magazine. Club and district officers also receive a bimonthly publication, TIPS, and district officers receive a District Newsletter each month. Toastmasters International is the undisputed world leader in public speaking training. Currently, there are over 8,800 clubs with memberships of more than 175,000 members in 70 countries. In the years to come, more people will benefit from Toastmasters leadership and education. Opportunities at the area and district levels enable members to reach for their dreams.

Dispelling The Myths
As with anything else, there are myths regarding Toastmasters. In order to gain a better understanding of the organization and purpose, myths must be dispelled from the realities. According to a University of Tennessee chapter, some of the most common myths are:

I don’t need Toastmasters because I have been giving presentations for years. You are probably using the same techniques you started with. For experienced speakers, Toastmasters provides methods to expand and modernize presentation style. Presenters will get honest feedback about style and constructive suggestions for alternative techniques.

I don’t need Toastmasters because I don’t give speeches. What about when your boss asks for a status report on a project? Talking to someone on the phone to ask a question or give information? What about presenting an idea at a staff meeting? The more you consider your business and personal conversations as “presentations”, the more consideration you will give that conversation. As a result, the more professional it will be. Toastmasters will help you develop that professional edge
I’m not smart enough.

I’ll be embarrassed. I can’t think of anything to talk about. Everyone is smart enough and has things that interest them that they can share. You won’t be any more embarrassed than you are about other things when with friends. Do you have a hobby? What is your job like? Do you have kids, a spouse, family? Have you ever fixed something? Where did you go on your last vacation? You have a lot to say!

The other members are already good speakers. I’d be nervous. While the current UT Toastmaster membership does have good speakers, everyone starts at the same place. Even the most experienced speakers are nervous. Toastmasters won’t be able to eliminate that. What we can do is help you to use that adrenaline to your advantage. Many of the senior members continue to attend and give presentations. Although members have improved their speaking skills, new techniques are always helpful.

Tally Ho Toastmasters

At the suggestion of a high school friend, I joined Tally Ho Toastmasters in Potomac, Maryland. Tally Ho meets the first and third Tuesday each month at Potomac Community Center. Currently, we have six members who attend meetings regularly. Unlike my experience in college as a Communications major, giving a speech at a Toastmasters contest or meeting is much less formal and far more relaxed than speaking for an audience of classmates. Club meetings are more spontaneous and flexible, unlike school or work, which maintains a structured format.

Improving public speaking skills is a main reason why people join Toastmasters in the first place. Tally Ho President Paul Alexander said, “I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills and to get practice in public speaking.”

As someone very experienced in public speaking, my reasons for joining Toastmasters were a bit different. I wanted to become more comfortable giving informal presentations. Tally Ho Toastmasters had exactly what I was looking for. Although I am a new member and have only given five speeches, Toastmasters has already increased my comfort level with impromptu speaking. As a result, I am more comfortable with public speaking. My presentations are for different types of audiences and include a wide variety of topics.

Fellow Toastmaster Joanne Lipkind’s experience has been somewhat different from mine. For her, Toastmasters is a family affair. Several “My mother was a Toastmaster and I had been attending some of her meetings and conventions. I thought it was fun and decided to become a member,”Lipkind said. After officially joining Toastmasters last September, Lipkind was first a member of the Dale R. Schallhorn Toastmasters Club. During her membership, Lipkind served as Sergeant of Arms. Unfortunately, she had to leave the club due to a scheduling conflict.

However, Lipkind became a charter member of the Bloody Orators, a beginner’s club in Potomac. Lipkind recalls, “I was referred to them by Kristin Nicholson, the Lieutenant Governor of Education at the time.” Asked if her Toastmasters experience improved after changing clubs Lipkind reports having a better experience as a Bloody Orator. “The Bloody Orators are a widely diverse group and are closer to my age range than the members of the Dale R. Schallhorn Club were,” she said.

Lipkind has experienced both intrinsic and practical rewards resulting from Toastmasters. She credits Toastmasters with helping to improve some very important areas of her life. “I have gained self-esteem and confidence. Now, I can stand up and speak in public.” For Ms. Lipkind, Toastmasters was a family affair. Along with her sister Alisa, her mother Karen is active in Toastmasters as well.

Ms. Lipkind has been an active member of Toastmasters since 1974. Joining after coworkers were role models for Toastmasters benefits, she currently holds a dual membership in both Federal Center and Maryland Advanced Toastmasters clubs. Lipkind has held many roles, including President Emeritus of Federal Center Toastmasters and current Assistant Governor in Division D.

Ms. Lipkind credits Toastmasters for many things. She contends, “I have gained self confidence, I have increased my ability to think and speak extemporaneously. I have developed many friendships. As a result of Toastmasters, I now have the ability to give different types of speeches for different occasions. I have increased my leadership abilities through the High Performance Leadership Program.”

Different Paths
In Toastmasters, many different paths lead to success. For Christy Mowbray, Toastmasters caught her eye from the first minute, literally. “I saw a Toastmasters meeting on TV and thought it would be a good place for me to develop my self-confidence and public speaking skills. I looked up the nearby Toastmasters clubs in my local paper and joined the first club I visited,” she said. Active since 2001, Mowbray has quite a full plate.

” I am a member of 2 clubs and try to get involved in each meeting. I am also finishing serving as Vice President of Education for both clubs. This upcoming year, I’ll be serving as Club Secretary for one of my clubs. I’m most excited about my upcoming role as an Area Governor, which will ‘officially’ begin July 1, 2004. This will give me a chance to work with a whole new group of people. Each role gives me additional experience in public speaking and a chance to develop my organizational and people skills,”observes Mowbray.

Toastmasters gives members various opportunities for growth and development. Active since 1985,current Area 33 Governor and Division C Governor-Elect Mary Anne Guerrera credits involvement in Toastmasters with several accomplishments. “I have overcome my fear of public speaking, improved my speaking skills, improved my listening skills, and am currently honing my leadership skills.

“Due to my ability to communicate more effectively, I am more self-confident than I have ever been. The self-confidence I have gained has helped me increase my earning power to a level that I never imagined.”

“Finally, the best benefit is getting to meet new, interesting people who want to improve their communication and leadership skills. I achieved my DTM

(Distinguished Toastmaster) designation in May of this year and now want to help others do the same,” Guerrera said.

The Hidden Benefits
Along with improving public speaking skills, many educational opportunities, and receiving various levels there are hidden benefits of Toastmasters as well. TallyHo member Alisa Lipkind said, “I have made many great friends and increased my self-confidence.” Lipkind has clearly experienced personal growth from her Toastmasters membership. The hidden benefits of membership are very valuable and important. However, Toastmasters also enables members to experience rewards of a more tangible nature.

Putting Skills Into Practice
TallyHo member and Treasurer Barbara Sable had quite a different experience from Lipkind. Sable recalls her beginnings with Toastmasters. “I became involved in Toastmasters at the recommendation of my supervisor. My job responsibilities had been expanded to include public speaking, and I asked for help in developing that capability,” Sable said.

Many Ways To Grow
Active in Toastmasters since 1994, Sable’s involvement is widespread. As a matter of fact, her participation extends far beyond the club level. She is also involved on an area level. “Currently, I am a member of two clubs-a standard Toastmasters community club [Tally Ho] and an advanced club [Maryland Advanced],”Sable said. If this doesn’t sound like a full plate, she currently serves as Club Advisor for Tally Ho and Area Governor. In her position as Area Governor, Sable’s primary responsibility involves the overseeing of six community clubs. All Toastmasters positions at the community, area and district levels are voluntary. The only paid positions are selected staff positions at Toastmasters International.

Practical Use Of Toastmasters Skills
Toastmasters provides much more Than just a forum members to improve their public speaking skills. Membership often serves as a springboard for growth and development, which can take place in multiple aspects of members’ lives. Toastmasters membership can be a very positive asset, especially to someone pursuing a degree. Upon joining Toastmasters, Colorado DTM Ron Wachenheim received a pleasant surprise. As Wachenheim’s public speaking improved, so did his grade point average!

Crediting Toastmasters for his success, Wachenheim said, “When I first started my Computer Science program in college, I was unable to give a decent presentation. Upon the advice of my very first instructor, I joined Toastmasters and became a straight A student all the way through both my Bachelors’ and Masters’ programs.”

Additionally, participation in Toastmasters can also lead to career advancement. DTM Judy Ragland-Lloyd’s example serves as a good case in point. Ragland-Lloyd said, “I knew Toastmasters was for me after attending my first meeting in 1989. I needed help with the quick thinking, one-on-one skills we learn in Table Topics and now have more confidence in confronting issues at work. As I honed my skills, I was offered opportunities to be an instructor for our company for the Total Quality Management program, and I began conducting our Toastmaster modules on effective meetings and developing leadership skills for our management team. Most recently, I was selected to record a voice-over for our employee on-line benefits enrollment.”

As Wachenheim and Ragland-Lloyd’s experiences each clearly illustrate, speaking and listening skills that members develop through Toastmasters are very beneficial to professional as well as personal growth. Toastmasters principles of speaking and listening are used in a variety of ways and with many different kinds of audiences. A major benefit of Toastmasters is an increased comfort level in situations such as these.

Spring Conference 2006
Just recently, District 36 held their annual spring conference. Participants included advanced club members from the Montgomery County area. Winners of area level contests who had advanced level club memberships participated in the international and humorous speech contests.

The International speech contest provides speakers the opportunity to improve their speaking ability and recognizes the best among participants. The contest is used as a method of further encouragement for fellow and potentially participating Toastmasters. The eligibility requirements for participation are as follows:

All Toastmasters who are members in good standing, in a club in good standing are eligible to compete.
Contestants must have completed a minimum of six (6) speech projects from the Basic Communication and Leadership Manual. (This rule may be waived for charter members of clubs receiving their charter since July 1 of the prior year.)

The following are ineligible to compete in this contest: Incumbent International Officers and Directors; District Officers whose term expires June 30; International Officer and Director candidates; Immediate Past District Governors; District Officers or announced candidates for July 1. Past first place winners of the International Speech Contest are not eligible to compete at any level of the current contest.

Toastmasters who are members in more than one Club and who meet all other eligibility requirements may compete in each club. However, if the Toastmaster should win the contest in more than one club, s/he is only eligible to compete in one Area level contest.

In those Areas with four Clubs or less, the two highest placed contestants from each Club may compete. In those Divisions with four Areas or less, the two highest placed contestants from each Area may compete. In Districts with four Divisions or less, the two highest contestants from each Division may participate in a District contest.

International speech contest participants must prepare before competing. Contestants must certify speeches of substantially original material with the Chief Judge. All quoted material must be cited during delivery. Contestants must deliver speeches from the same platform or area as designated by the contest chairman with knowledge of all judges and contestants. Contestants may speak from any position within the designated area and are not limited to the lectern. Participants must present an entirely new speech for the Regional and the International contests than given in any contest of that year, including the District contest. Contestants have an option to deliver a speech which they previously presented in the same year.

What is a humorous speech? Contest rules define a humorous speech using these guidelines, some of which are similar to the International speech contest guidelines. They are as follows:

The contestant must select the subject. The speaker should avoid using potentially objectionable language, anecdotes and material.
Contestants must prepare their own five to seven minute speech, which must be substantially original. Any quoted material must be identified during the speech presentation.
Speeches must have an introduction, body, and conclusion and not be an act or monologue.
For more information on the International or Humorous Speech contests, please visit the International at Humorous Speech contest website at:

The Makings Of A Memorable Speech
Throughout American history, there have been many memorable speeches. Generations recall such memorable addresses as Doctor Martin Luther King Jr’s infamous, “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Toastmasters enables members to acquire skills to more effectively deliver memorable speeches. In Toastmasters, the most important question for speakers to ask when preparing speeches is, “What aspects of speeches make them so memorable?”

Speeches are memorable as much for delivery as for content. When delivering his, “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King was very passionate. As the speech progressed, King’s passion became increasingly clear. Soon audience members realized that Dr. King had a genuine concern for them. As a result of the passion he felt toward his message, King’s delivery was very effective. Not only was his delivery one of the most memorable in history, but on the audio audience members can be heard loudly cheering in agreement as King concludes with his famous, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” (

The Last Word
Mowbray credits Toastmasters with her growth. “Toastmasters has really challenged me to ‘step out of my comfort zone’. I’m very shy, especially talking to people one-to-one. Toastmasters has given me to opportunity to meet many new people and gain experience and confidence in these one-to-one situations. I’ve also learned about my strengths weaknesses in my work and personal life through Toastmasters. Besides, it’s just a whole lot of fun!” Mowbray also says she learns new things about each member and leave each week a more well rounded individual. Toastmasters main goal is to help members achieve personal growth through public speaking. Mowbray and her fellow Toastmasters are excellent examples of growth and success.

Sources Cited

Paul Alexander

Mary Anne Guerera

Alisa Lipkind

Joanne Lipkind

Karen Lipkind

Judy Ragland-Lloyd

Christy Mowbray

Barbara Sable

UT Toastmasters Myths utmyths.html

Ron Wachenheim

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