Monday, November 9, 2009

Toastmasters: Tenacious Talkers hosts open house

By guest writer Suzanne Frey

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA -- Eighty-five years ago on Oct. 22, Dr. Ralph C. Smedley held the first official Toastmasters meeting in the basement of a YMCA in Santa Ana.

Clubs around the world will celebrate the anniversary with special meetings. Locally, Toastmasters club No. 8731, Tenacious Talkers, will hold an open house, 6:15 p.m. Nov. 19 at 2150 Argonaut Road in Finley. For more information, contact club Vice President of Education Greg Scott at 707-263-5350 for more information.

Not even Dr. Smedley could have envisioned the history he was making on Oct. 22, 1924. The organization that started as a small group of people dedicated to teaching after-dinner speeches to young men has evolved into a worldwide leader in communication and leadership development. Since that first meeting in 1924, more than 4 million people have benefited from the Toastmasters experience.

“Toastmasters’ long-term success and growth is a tribute to Dr. Smedley’s vision,” said Toastmasters International President Gary A. Schmidt. “He understood that communication isn’t optional and leadership isn’t always innate, but both can be learned through doing.”

Today, Toastmasters’ 250,000-plus active members participate in more than 12,500 clubs spanning 106 countries. From Dubai to New Zealand, Saskatchewan to Connecticut, each day thousands of Toastmasters participate in meetings to learn and practice valuable communication and leadership skills in a supportive environment.

Michael Avedissian of Reading, Pennsylvania, is one of the organization’s longest-term members. He moved from Germany to the United States in 1954 and joined Toastmasters the following year. He credits the Reading Toastmasters Club with saving his engineering career and his new life in America by helping him learn and practice English. “Toastmasters gave me the ability to deliver the reports and presentations that were required for my career.”

Many organizations stall or even crumble during difficult economic times. Toastmasters has withstood the test of time and has even grown 5 percent annually since 2005 because it offers practical skills that are critical for success in today’s competitive environment.

Ann Maxfield of Austin, Minn., recently was able to begin a new career as an e-learning coordinator at Hormel Foods. With her Toastmasters training, she aced the interviews. “People in management know about Toastmasters and look to it as valuable training for the skills and experiences they require in employees,” she said.

The Toastmasters program also helps political and business leaders prepare for the demands of their positions. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is one of many with political aspirations who found help in Toastmasters. “It is the best and least expensive personal improvement class you can go to,” said Lingle.

For more information about Toastmasters International and about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit For more information about Tenacious Talkers, visit

Blog author’s Note: This essay was provided by Toastmasters International to club vice presidents of public relations to personalize with information about their clubs.

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