about toastmasters

Toastmasters International gives you the opportunity to develop your communication and leadership skills within a supportive environment of like-minded people. More-experienced speakers and leaders are role models demonstrating the fundamentals of verbal communication.

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. The nonprofit organization with over 313,000 members in 14,450 clubs in 126 countries offers a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.

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. As a member, you practice and improve your skills by following the assignments in the Communication and Leadership manuals. You get to practice your skills in a wide variety of roles: as a meeting participant, as a speaker, as a club officer and as a leader at some of the different levels necessary for an international organization.

Through practice within the "laboratory of communication" clubs provide, you'll gain confidence in your abilities in delivering prepared presentations, speaking "on your feet," using visual aids and body language, effective listening, and passing what you learn on to others. The educational material has been rigorously and professionally prepared, used by hundreds of thousands of men and women over the past decades, and improved based on their feedback.

 

Typical Club Meeting

The purpose of Toastmasters is to help members overcome apprehensions about speaking in public and to improve communication skills.

This is accomplished by providing a self-paced, focused speaking program with a supportive, experienced group of people to assist you. This mutual support will help you become more effective in several skills, including formal public presentations, individual communications, impromptu speaking situations, managing and participating in meetings, and leading and managing people.

The chief mechanism in developing these skills is through the typical club meeting, which is designed to provide an opportunity to practice various techniques in a variety of situations. A normal Toastmasters meeting will, therefore, contain a number of individual sections within the meeting, as described below.

Table Topics
During this portion of the meeting, club members (and sometimes guests) practice impromptu speaking by responding to topic questions prepared by the Table Topics Master.

Prepared Speeches
In this section, assigned members practice their public speaking skills by giving a prepared presentation from one of the Communication and Leadership Program manuals. Each project in a manual has a specific objective in an area that helps members practice different speaking techniques. The objectives are designed as guidelines to help you think about the various qualities that comprise a good speech. Some members may be just starting out, while others may be more advanced. Remember, though, all Toastmasters began just as you did and, as you learn from each project, you will be able to reach and exceed what you see in your first meetings.

Evaluations
During this portion, members practice their listening and evaluation skills. Assigned members will give evaluations of the prepared speeches and of the meeting as a whole. These evaluations provide feedback of how the evaluators saw the presenters and will point out the positive aspects of the speech and some possible areas for improvement. Good evaluations are the hallmark of good Toastmasters.

Roles in a Meeting
Other members fill a number of roles in order to help the meeting flow smoothly and improve the quality of the meeting.

  • The Toastmaster prepares and leads the meeting as "host."
  • The Table Topics Master leads the impromptu speaking portion.
  • The General Evaluator conducts the evaluation portion.
  • The Timer supports everyone by reminding them of their use of time.
  • The Ah Counter notes any word or sound used as a crutch, so speakers can become aware and correct them.

 

Business Meeting

During this portion, the club's business is handled. At the same time, the club practices effective meeting management skills, so that business can be handled quickly and efficiently.

 

Finding and Visiting a Club

Visit a Club
Visiting a club is the best way to learn more about Toastmasters. While the information contained in this web site can give you a good idea of what to expect, the best way to learn what Toastmasters can provide to you is to visit one of our clubs' meetings. Contact a club using the telephone number or email provided. If the club has its own web site, you may get additional contact information there.

Visit More Than One Club
We encourage you to visit more than one club as each club has its own individual personality. Even with these different personalities, however, each club adheres to the core principles of Toastmasters: namely, to improve its members' speaking skills in a supportive environment.

You Are Always Welcome
You are always welcome at our meetings. You may take part if you wish, or just watch and listen. As a guest you will be introduced so that the members of the club know who you are, and we encourage you to join us. The decision to take that first step toward becoming a better speaker, however, is entirely up to you.

 
Club Listing by City               Club Locator Map

 

Starting a Club

Toastmasters groups are formed every day in a variety of settings. Groups meet onsite at corporations, churches, community centers – even in restaurants. Forming a Toastmasters group is simple. All of the materials are provided for you and a team of local Toastmasters will guide you through the process.

Local leaders in Toastmasters will guide you through the process and if you have at least thirty people interested in forming a club, District 4 Toastmasters will come to your organization and do a demonstration meeting.

Your Organization Needs Toastmasters
Your company’s success depends in large part on how well your employees communicate – with each other as well as with customers.Good communicators tend to be good leaders, and chances are your company needs employees with leadership potential. This is where a Toastmasters group can help.

 

Organization Structure

 Toastmasters International is an international nonprofit educational organization dedicated to making effective oral communication a worldwide reality. With its headquarters in southern California, the Toastmasters International organization is governed by a Board of Directors representing various clubs and regions around the globe. District 4 Toastmasters is a part of this organization, as summarized by the hierarchy listed below:

Toastmasters International Organization StructureMembers the participants - and benefactors - of the entire organization. There are currently over 313,000 members worldwide with over 6,000 residing in District 4.

Clubs the core unit of the Toastmasters organization typically made up of 20 to 30 members. There are 14,650 clubs worldwide with over 270 in District 4.

  The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Areas a group of 4 to 6 clubs supported by an area governor and area council made up of club officers. There are 52 areas in District 4.

  The mission of the area is to provide district contact, support and services to the club so that the club may in turn fulfill its responsibilities to its members.

Divisions a group of 4 to 6 areas supported by a division governor and division council made up of area governors. District 4 is made up of 10 geographical divisions.

  The mission of the division is to serve the clubs assigned to it by providing district support and resources through the area governors.

Districts a geographic area established by the Board of Directors of Toastmasters International. There are 96 districts worldwide. District 4's geographic area includes the San Francisco peninsula, Silicon Valley, and the Santa Cruz and Monterey peninsulas.

  The mission of the district is to enhance the performance and extend the network of clubs, thereby offering greater numbers of people the opportunity to benefit from the Toastmasters educational program by
  • Focusing on the critical success factors as specified by the District educational goals and membership goals.
  • Insuring that each Club effectively fulfills its responsibilities to its members.
  • Providing effective training and leadership development opportunities for Club and District officers.

Regions a geographic grouping of districts. There are 14 regions worldwide with an elected international director and an appointed region advisor marketing in each supporting their districts. District 4 is in Region 2, which includes Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and California from Ventura County north.

Every group within this structure exists solely to improve the activities offered by the Toastmasters program, and each of the larger groups is dedicated to helping the more local groups and individual clubs realize the Toastmaster vision of effective oral communication.