The Toastmasters Journey

The Toastmasters Journey

Since its origins, Toastmasters was formed as a group dedicated to helping each other become better communicators and leaders.

Toastmasters began as a series of speaking clubs organized by Ralph C. Smedley during his time working for the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) in Bloomington, Illinois, United States. As director of education at the YMCA, Smedley saw a need for men in the community to learn how to speak properly, conduct business meetings, plan different programs and work on groups, so he decided to help them.

Smedley organized a club where young people would learn these and other skills in a social, friendly and supportive environment. The gentleman responded favorably to the concept. He dubbed the group the Toastmasters Club; "toastmaster" was a familiar term that applies to a person who delivered toasts at festivities and other celebrations.

The original Toastmasters gathering was held on March 24, 1905. Much like Toastmasters meetings nowadays, the participants took turns leading and speaking at each gathering. Smedley and the more experienced men evaluated short speeches, while the younger and inexperienced men were asked to join in the evaluations. However, as Smedley was awarded higher seats at other YMCAs in Illinois and later, in San Jose, California, the fledgling clubs lacked control and did not thrive.

The Origins and Growth of Toastmasters International

Smedley began working at the newly organized YMCA in Santa Ana, California, in 1922, and for the first two years, his time was spent building a home for the organization. Once the new YMCA building was christened in 1924, he was able to introduce the idea of Toastmasters to his colleagues.

Word spread about Smedley's Toastmasters clubs and soon people in surrounding communities and other states were asking how they could start their own club. Smedley wrote the "Manual of Instructions" and "Ten Lessons in Public Speaking," which he printed and bound in paper covers, and secured copyrights on the publications and trademarked the name "Toastmasters Club."

By 1930, nearly 30 Toastmasters clubs had formed including a club in Canada. To reflect expansion outside of the United States, the newly formed association was re-named Toastmasters International. In 1932 Toastmasters was incorporated as a non-profit organization based in California.

Over 90 years after its creation, Toastmaster's International is now a world leader in communication and leadership development. With more than 332,000 memberships. Members are able to improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 15,400 clubs in 135 countries that make up the Toastmasters global network of meeting locations.

Toastmasters Club Reaches Mexico and Expands

The history of Toastmasters International in Mexico dates back to the 70's, with the formation of the first club, Capital Mexicana. Since then, over a hundred clubs throughout the country form what is known as Division X.

Mexican English Toastmasters Club was established by Gisela Felsner in 2010. Becoming the first 100% English spoken club in Mexico City. In March 2015 METC had its 5th year anniversary celabration.

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