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.
Today, Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization which gives its members the opportunity to develop and improve not only their public speaking abilities through local club meetings, training seminars and speech contests but also their leadership skills by taking on various meeting roles and serving as officers at the club, area, and district levels. After 87 years in existence, Toastmasters International has approximately 260,000 men and women in more than 12,500 clubs in 106 countries!
Toastmasters members learn by doing (leading and speaking) 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, giving impromptu speeches, presenting prepared speeches, and offering constructive evaluations.