Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership. The first Toastmasters club was established on October 22, 1924, in Santa Ana, California, by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, who conceived and developed the idea of helping others to speak more effectively. More clubs were formed, and Toastmasters International was incorporated under California law on December 19, 1932.
Toastmasters International's business and services are administered by its World Headquarters, located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. It employs no paid promoters or instructors. It has no salaried staff except the Executive Director and World Headquarters staff, who provide services to the clubs and Districts.
How Toastmasters works
At Toastmasters, members learn by speaking to groups and working with others in a supportive environment. A typical Toastmasters club is made up of 20 to 30 people who meet once a week for about an hour. Each meeting gives everyone an opportunity to practice:
* Conducting meetings. Meetings usually begin with a short business session which helps members learn basic meeting procedures. Giving impromptu speeches. Members present one-to two-minute impromptu speeches on assigned topics. Presenting prepared speeches. Three or more members present speeches based on projects from the Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Program manuals. Projects cover such topics as speech organization, voice, language, gestures, and persuasion.
* Offering constructive evaluation. Every prepared speaker is assigned an evaluator who points out speech strengths and offers suggestions for improvement