Toastmasters is a International organization that teaches you communication and leadership though a hands-on experience. The meetings have a structured meeting format, however, instead of sitting and listening to someone else talk all of the time, you get to do speeches in front of the group too and inform, educate, and/or entertain those who are watching you. The environment is friendly and encouraging and all are welcome. There is a yearly membership fee for the local and international levels. Many places of employment will reimburse partial or full fees since communication and leadership are vital to your employment, so check with the company you work for to see if they will help with your fees. Your experiences in Toastmasters will make you a better worker and leader in your work place, so your employer should be able to see their investment in you grow.

The feedback loop in Toastmasters is an award based one. Awards are earned when you work toward and complete achievements. There are awards for Communication and Leadership achievements. It is up to you which path(s) you choose. If you want to earn the highest award you will have to follow and complete both paths – one for Leadership and one for Communication. There is a wonderful Educational Program description and diagram on the Toastmasters website.

I am currently not part of any Toastmasters club at the moment, however in the past, during my 2 1/2 years with Toastmasters, I accomplished and learned many things. I was a member of 2 (almost 3) clubs – Debedeavon Toastmasters and Delmarva Toastmasters. I officially served as a President, a VP of Education, and a Mentor – sometimes some of them at the same time. I have unofficially served as a VP of Membership, VP of Public Relations, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms. During my time in Toastmasters, I earned many awards. In the communication track, I achieved my Competent Toastmaster award in 2006, the new Competent Communicator award, and completed a few of the Advanced Communicator speeches. In the leadership track, I earned my Competent Leadership Award, my Advanced Leader Bronze award, and was working toward my Advanced Leader Silver award. All of these awards are explained in the Educational Program portion of the Toastmasters website mentioned above.

Please go to the Toastmasters site and find a club near you. You will find a lot of information on the Toastmasters site, so happy reading!