Home About Us Calendar Map & Directions Newsletters Contact Us Resources
Philadelphia's First Toastmasters

Local Toastmasters help tongue-tied speak freely

(Teaching People to Talk Turkey Without Turning Chicken)

Philadelphia's First Toastmasters

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Most people would rather die than give a speech, according to a survey reported in The Book of Lists. Fear of public speaking outranked the fear of death by a two-to-one margin!

Unrealistic as this may seem, the fact remains that while many people lack the training and stamina to effectively deliver a clear thought, today’s fast-paced, technological world is in desperate need of good communicators and leaders. The person with strong communication skills has a clear advantage over tongue-tied colleagues – especially in a competitive job market.

Toastmasters International, a nonprofit educational organization, has been working for more than 75 years to provide for this need and help people conquer their pre-speech jitters. From one club started at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters has grown to become the world’s largest organization devoted to developing people’s public and interpersonal communication skills.

Since that first club was organized by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley in October 1924, nearly four million men and women have enjoyed the benefits of Toastmasters membership. The organization now has approximately 175,000 members in 8,800 Toastmasters clubs in approximately 70 countries.

One local club, Philadelphia's First Toastmasters, has been helping members to build self confidence and communication and leadership skills since 1947. The group of about 30 members meets twice every month in Northeast Philadelphia. Meetings are held from 7:00-9:00 PM on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month at Philadelphia Protestant Home, 6500 Tabor Road. The club's website, located at www.PhiladelphiasFirstToastmasters.com, contains more information, including a calendar of upcoming events. Meetings at Philadelphia's First are open to all. Guests are not required to speak, but are welcome to do so.

How Does it Work?

Toastmasters clubs like Philadelphia's First are "learn-by-doing" workshops in which men and women learn and practice public speaking techniques in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. After joining, members progress through a series of 10 speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking. When finished with the basic speech manual, members can select from among 15 advanced programs to develop speaking skills that are geared to specific career needs. They are: Public Relations, Specialty Speeches, The Entertaining Speaker, Speaking to Inform, The Discussion Leader, Speeches by Management, The Professional Speaker, Persuasive Speaking, Technical Presentations, Communicating on Television, Storytelling, Interpretive Reading, Interpersonal Communication, Special Occasion Speeches, and Humorously Speaking. Members also have the opportunity to develop and practice leadership skills by working in the High Performance Leadership Program and serving as leaders at various organizational levels.

There is no instructor in a Toastmasters club. Instead, members evaluate one another’s oral presentations. This evaluation process is an integral component of the overall educational program. Besides taking turns delivering prepared speeches and evaluating those of other members, Toastmasters give impromptu talks on assigned topics, usually related to current events. They also develop listening skills, conduct meetings, and learn parliamentary procedure.

The effectiveness of this simple learning formula is evidenced by the thousands of corporations that sponsor in-house Toastmasters clubs. These clubs serve as communication training workshops for employees. Every year, more and more business and government organizations are discovering that Toastmasters is the most effective, cost-efficient means of satisfying their communication training needs.

Toastmasters clubs can be found in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as in a variety of community organizations, prisons, universities, hospitals, military bases and churches. Philadelphia's First Toastmasters is the oldest of 22 clubs in Philadelphia.

For more information about clubs around the world, see the Toastmasters International home page: http://www.toastmasters.org