Toastmasters InternationalI joined a group three months ago that?s essential for anyone who wants to gain leadership and public speaking skills and confidence. The organization is Toastmasters International. I go there for two hours on Thursday nights to give a prepared speech, work on my leadership skills or take responsibility for the club. I've learned a lot and it?s given me confidence I never used to have. One year from now, I plan on achieving my 10-speech goal and completing my leadership handbook to get my Toastmasters certification.

Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organization. It operates worldwide, assisting members in honing their public speaking and leadership skills, both of which are necessary for success. Founded in 1924, the group boasts a number of famous celebrity members, from Debbie Fields Rose, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies and former All Star NBA Center, Mark Eaton, to Carl Dixon, the former lead singer for The Guess Who.

Toastmasters International

The group counts among its members Olympic gold medalists and politicians from virtually every country in the world, along with presidential advisors, former Miss America winners and astronauts James Lovell, Walter Schirra and John Young. Best-selling authors, Hollywood directors, captains of industry and philanthropists have all availed themselves of what Toastmasters has to offer.

The group is active in 122 countries with over 14,350 clubs. There?s no pressure at meetings and members give talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings and improve their grammar. Members become comfortable leading, working together and speaking in public. The most profound message in the world will have little impact if the speaker can?t connect with his/her audience. Toastmasters teach those skills.

The organization maintains an extensive array of articles and resource material that can be accessed online. Materials address a distracted audience, coordinating the power of pen and voice, and how to become a master storyteller. Readers can examine the most common pitfalls of public speaking, access video resources and take advantage of the group?s comprehensive free library and satellite programs.

Joining is easy. Just visit a local club and complete a membership application. New members pay a $20 fee and membership dues that average $36 every six months. There is some variation in membership dues among clubs. Joining Toastmasters International is an investment in your future.

The right words can motivate people to move mountains and reach for the stars. It?s impossible to know when the opportunity for greatness will arise and the need for speaking and leadership skills will win the day. It doesn't matter whether you?re addressing 10 or 1,000, Toastmasters provides you with the skills to do so effortlessly.

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