Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.

It was founded in 1924 by Ralph C. Smedley. As director of education at the YMCA in Illinois USA, Smedley saw a need for the men in the community to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees. He introduced a club where YMCA members could learn these skills in a social environment, and the men responded well to the concept.

Word soon spread and people in surrounding communities and other states began asking how they could start their own club. To save time replying to the many letters and inquiries he was receiving, Smedley wrote the “Manual of Instructions” and “Ten Lessons in Public Speaking,” which he had printed and bound in paper covers. By 1930, nearly 30 Toastmasters clubs had formed including one British Columbia, Canada. To reflect expansion outside of the United States, the newly formed association was named Toastmasters International.

Today there are over 15,000 Toastmasters clubs in 135 countries and worldwide over quarter of a million people are members of Toastmasters. In London there are over 50 clubs and each club has its own personality and atmosphere.

Toastmasters has a management structure to organises the worldwide network of clubs. Phoenix Speakers is a member of Area 8 for clubs in the Victoria area, Division B for London and District 91 for UK South.