October is Toastmasters Month

October is Toastmasters Month

October is Toastmasters Month, so why not have a think about getting involved with one of the three Toastmasters clubs here in Quebec City?

Submitted by Jean Racine 

October 22 Is Toastmasters’ 87th Birthday!   The first official Toastmasters meeting was held on Santa Ana, California, on October 22, 1924.

When people hear the word “basement,” they’re not likely to picture the home of a global communication and leadership-development organization. But a basement in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), in Santa Ana, California, is exactly where Ralph C. Smedley held the first meeting of what would eventually become Toastmasters International.
At that first Toastmasters meeting, members practiced speaking skills in a supportive, informal atmosphere. The seedling club blossomed. Then another sprung up in nearby Anaheim. Word spread about Smedley’s experiment and soon people in other communities, and even other states, began to request permission and help to start their own Toastmasters meetings.

As Toastmasters International celebrates its 85th anniversary this month, the organization stands at a historic high point. Program offerings have never been more expansive. Toastmasters leaders have developed innovative strategies to keep up with advances and shifting cultural dynamics of the global age. Indeed, while many organizations around the world are downsizing because of the economic climate, Toastmasters International is growing; thousands of people are taking advantage of the organization’s programs to enhance their communication skills. Membership is at an all-time high, with more than 250,000 members in 12,000 clubs in 106 countries. As of June 30, a record 1,073 new clubs were chartered, and 56 districts were recognized as Distinguished or better, a number surpassing all previous years.

The organization’s profile is about to grow even higher: A new film about Toastmasters is scheduled for release. SpeakEasy, a feature-length documentary produced by Tumbleweed Entertainment, explores the 2008 World Championship of Public Speaking and the larger Toastmasters world.

From a gathering in a YMCA basement in 1924 to the 12,000-plus clubs that meet in 106 countries today, the Toastmasters story is one of dramatic growth and success. And with accomplishments come opportunities. “As we meet our members’ needs and greet thousands of club visitors, we offer the most valuable service imaginable: We help people improve their lives,” says Rex. “That’s what the Toastmasters mission is all about.”  

Many people who started as nervous speakers have gone on to leadership positions.  People such as:  Tim Allen (TV Show Home Improvement), William Bennett (former premier in BC), Peter Coors (Chairman of Coors Brewing), Carl Dixon (former Lead Singer of The Guess Who), Debbie Fields Rose (Mrs Fields Cookies), Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Tara Dawn Holland Christensen (Miss America 1997), Harvey Mackay (author), James Lovell, Walter Schirra, John Young (US Astronauts), Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), and many more including Pat Johnson, DTM, IP – Toastmasters International President for 2010-2011.  She was the first International President from Victoria, BC and the first woman president from outside the US. 

George Torok (Cdn author, coach and public speaker), said, “I was NOT a natural born public speaker. I was a shy student. I am an introvert by nature. Today I love the thrill of speaking before an audience.  How Did I Learn? Focused on becoming a better speaker. Read dozens of books on public speaking and presentation skills. Threw myself into the Toastmasters public speaking program for years.”

In order to develop your leadership and communication abilities, come to one of the three English-speaking Toastmasters clubs in Québec City, Monday night, Wednesday night, or Friday morning. These clubs are open to everyone and visitors are always welcome. For more information visit www.toastmasters-quebec.com or contact Jean Racine 418-623-0452.
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Pic and words submitted by Jean Racine.

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