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History

A Brief History of the Toastmasters Program

Since Toastmasters began, more than three million men and women have benefited from the organization’s communication and leadership programs.

In October 1924, a group of men assembled by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley met in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, U.S.A., forming a club “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.” The group took the name “Toastmasters.” Soon men in other communities and states asked for permission and help to start their own Toastmasters clubs. By 1930, a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of the many clubs and to 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.

For many years the “Home Office” of Toastmasters International was based in a series of 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 increased staff needed to provide services to the growing number of Toastmasters. In 1990 World Headquarters relocated to a new building in Rancho Santa Margarita, approximately 20 miles south of Santa Ana, designed to accommodate Toastmasters International’s expected growth well into the 21st century.

Toastmasters International’s success and growth is due in large part to the continued development of its 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, now called the Communication and Leadership Program, was most recently updated in 1996. After members of Toastmasters complete all 10 speech projects in that manual, they may apply for their Competent Toastmaster (CTM) award and then choose from any combination of 15 advanced manuals.

Additional educational materials include the Success/Leadership and Success/Communication Series, The Better Speaker Series, and the High Performance Leadership Program. Toastmasters International’s 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 L eader (CL) and Advanced Leader (AL). The Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) remains the highest award.

In addition to the various educational materials available through the Toastmasters International Supply Catalog, members receive the monthly publication, The Toastmaster magazine. Club and district officers receive a bimonthly publication, TIPS, and district officers receive District Newsletter each month. Toastmasters International enters the new century as the undisputed world leader in public speaking training, with over 8,800 clubs and more than 175,000 members in approximately 70 countries. In the years to come, more people than ever will benefit from Toastmasters leadership and education.

A WORD ABOUT GROWTH

Your growth and personal development is what Toastmasters is all about. Won’t you help your friends and associates grow, too? Invite them to your club. If they live in another town, send their names, addresses, and phone numbers to World Headquarters, and they will receive a list of clubs in their area and a brochure about Toastmasters. And as the opportunity arises to form a new Toastmasters club in your community or organization, World Headquarters will be happy to help.

In North America, additional information and a list of local clubs can be requested through our voice mail system at 1-800-9WE-SPEAK. A complete list of Toastmasters clubs is available on our web site, and E-mail can be sent to tminfo@toastmasters.org.

Toastmasters sponsors a variety of recognition programs for membership and club builders. Contact your club president for details.