alt.org.toastmasters Frequently Asked Questions part 1 of 5:
What is Toastmasters International?
1. What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational
corporation headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, Califor-
nia. Its mission is to improve communication and leadership
skills of its members and in general. Mainly, this works out
to 'improving public speaking skills' but there is also a
potent leadership and management aspect to the organization if
you aspire to reach that level.
2. Is this just a group for people in the USA or for people who
No. The organization includes approximately 180,000 members
in 54 countries, including Australia, the Bahamas, Canada,
Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philip-
pines, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the
United States of America.
Toastmasters International publishes a complete set of
materials in English and basic materials in French, Spanish,
and Japanese. As translators make themselves available, more
materials are translated.
3. How is Toastmasters organized?
All Toastmasters members belong to one or more clubs. Clubs
consist of at least eight members and may have forty or more.
The recommended size for a club is twenty or more.
Clubs exist in communities around the world, especially in
North America, and it's a rare locality in the United States
that doesn't have at least one Toastmasters club within thirty
minutes' driving time. There are, at present, over 8,000
clubs around the world, and most of them are in the United
There are many sorts of clubs: community clubs, military
clubs, company clubs, prison clubs, collegiate clubs, and so
on. At this time, the majority of the *new* clubs being
chartered are 'company clubs', i.e. clubs chartered at and
meeting at businesses and organizations, in many cases open
only to employees or members of those organizations. Never
fear, however; there are thousands of community clubs already
in existence as well.
4. Where can I find a club?
If you'd like to visit a club meeting, simply telephone
Toastmasters International World Headquarters at (714) 858-
8255 and ask for the locations of the clubs near you.
Alternately, drop a postcard to TI WHQ, P.O. Box 9052, Mission
Viejo CA 92690 and ask for the local clubs' listings. You may
be VERY surprised by how many clubs there are in your area.
Quite a few clubs don't get around to advertising in the
Complete listings for all clubs in the world can be found at
If you cannot access the World Wide Web, send email to
tmi...@toastmasters.org and ask; be sure to include your postal
address so the information can be mailed to you.
5. Do I have to ask permission before attending a meeting of a club
in my area?
If you're visiting a community club, it might not be a bad
idea to let them know you're coming so they can tell you any
details like what time members arrive to eat and what time
members who don't come to eat arrive, but community clubs are
almost always open to all and they'll be delighted to have you
come to the meeting.
Clubs that meet at companies and organizations, on military
bases, or in prisons are often, but not always, restricted to
members or employees of the sponsoring body. These clubs are
happy to have guests but you sometimes need to call ahead to
get through security or to find out specifically where the
Unlike some other organizations, where one must have a
sponsoring member who _invites_ you to the meeting and
introduces you to the group, Toastmasters welcomes all guests.
If the club is open to membership from the community, you will
usually be offered a membership application at the end of the
6. Is Toastmasters a social or drinking organization in some
The name "Toastmasters" is a holdover from the founding of the
organization, when one of the main types of public speaking a
member of society would engage in was after-dinner speaking,
a.k.a. toastmastering. It is rare that formal drinking and
toasts take place, and these are usually at major banquets or
In general, though, you'll find two types of clubs: those that
have a meal with their meetings and those that don't. Clubs
that have a meal with their meeting may charge their members
for the meals in advance and pay the restaurant in one lump
sum or may have members order off the menu. Since breakfast
and lunch clubs are popular with the business community, you
can often kill two birds with one stone by joining Toastmas-
ters: educating yourself and having a meal with business
associates. You'll also find some clubs that get meeting
space by having dinner before their meetings -- and half the
members wait until dinner is over to arrive. There's infinite
variety to it all. This is one good reason to call in
Many clubs do *not* have meals with their meetings, though.
Quite a few clubs meet after dinnertime in a public meeting
room at a bank or library or at a church, have their meeting,
and go home.
7. What happens at a meeting?
The format varies slightly from club to club, but the basics
* the business meeting (usually very brief)
* introduction of the Toastmaster of the Meeting, who
presides over the program that day and explains the
meeting as it goes along
* prepared speeches from members (of which more below)
* impromptu speeches from members (also known as Table
Topics, of which more below)
* oral evaluations of the prepared speeches (of which
* reports from other evaluation personnel, such as speech
timer, grammarian, "ah" counter, wordmaster, and General
Meetings last anywhere from one hour (especially at lunch or
breakfast) to three hours (if the club meets infrequently or
has long-winded speakers).
8. What's a "prepared speech?"
When you join Toastmasters (see the "Membership" FAQ) you
receive a basic speaking manual with ten speech projects.
Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of
your own choosing but using certain speaking principles. Each
manual project lists the objectives for that speech and
includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when
evaluating the speech. Thus, if you're scheduled to speak at
a meeting, you generally pull out your manual a week or two in
advance and put together a speech on whatever you like but
paying attention to your goals and objectives for that speech.
Then, when you go to the meeting, you hand your manual to your
evaluator and that person makes written comments on the
checklist while you speak. At the end of the meeting, that
person (your evaluator) will rise to give oral commentary as
well. The purpose of the extensive preparation and commentary
is to show you what you're doing well, what you need to work
on, and driving these lessons home so you're constantly
9. What speech projects are there for me to work on?
In the basic ("Communication and Leadership" manual), there
are ten speech projects:
1. Icebreaker - 4 to 6 minutes - getting over nervousness by
introducing yourself to the club.
2. Be In Earnest - 5 to 7 minutes - continue to get over
nervousness by speaking about something you believe
3. Organize Your Speech - 5 to 7 minutes - work on giving a
4. Show What You Mean - 5 to 7 minutes - not a "Show and Tell"
speech, this project calls on you to work with gestures
and body language during your speech. Unfortunately,
many members somehow confuse the issue and show up with
a bag full of props that they use in a "Show and Tell"
style speech. Don't do that.
5. Vocal Variety - 5 to 7 minutes - work on rate of delivery,
volume, speed, pitch, emphasis, etc.
6. Work with Words - 5 to 7 minutes - work on proper word
choice, avoiding jargon and generalizations, etc.
7. Apply Your Skills - 5 to 7 minutes - go back and practice
everything you've learned up to this point.
8. Be Persuasive - 6 to 8 minutes - give a persuasive speech
on a controversial issue.
9. Speak With Knowledge - 7 minutes, plus or minus 30 seconds
- research an issue, write a speech, and then *read* that
speech to the audience (as opposed to using notecards or
notes or whatever you used for the previous eight
speeches)... and have it well-rehearsed, so it doesn't
run long or end too soon.
10. Inspire Your Audience - 8 to 10 minutes - The final speech
in the manual calls on you to move and inspire your
audience in a well-presented and well-prepared speech.
As you can see, all ten projects above are wide-open for you
to choose whatever topic you like. Even if you pick a
controversial subject, most Toastmasters audiences will
evaluate you on how well you presented your subject, not on
whether they agreed with you or not.
For further information about the speaking program, see the
"Educational Advancement FAQ."
10. What is "Table Topics?"
Table Topics is fun! It's also terrifying. Basically, it
calls on you, the guest or member, to present a one to two
minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until
the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned
to be Topicsmaster will prepare a few impromptu topics and
call on members (or guests, if they've given assent in advance
to being called on) to stand up and speak on the topic.
Topics might include current events (e.g. "What would you do
about Haitian boat people if you were President?") or philoso-
phy ("If you had no shoes and met a man who had no feet, how
would you feel?") or the wacky ("Reach into this bag. Pull an
item out. Tell us about it.").
11. What is Evaluation?
The Evaluation program is the third of the three main parts to
the meeting. All prepared speakers, as noted above, should
have their speaking manuals with them and should have passed
them on to the evaluators beforehand. During the speech, and
after, each person's evaluator should make written notes and
furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute
oral evaluation. Evaluation is tough to do well because it
requires an evaluator to do more than say "here's what you did
wrong." A good evaluator will say "here's what you did
_well_, and here's why doing that was good, and here are some
things you might want to work on for your next speech, and
here's how you might work on them." It's important to
remember that the evaluator is just one point of view,
although one that has focused in on your speech closely.
Other members of the audience can and should give you written
or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel
12. What's all this emphasis on time limits?
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have
time limits (1-2 minutes, usually) and evaluations have time
limits (2-3 minutes, usually). This is in order to drive home
the point that a good speaker makes effective use of the time
allotted and does not keep going and going and going until the
audience is bored. In the real world, quite often there are
practical limits on how long a meeting can or should go; by
setting time limits on speeches and presentations, partici-
pants learn brevity and time management and the club meeting
itself can be expected to end on schedule.
Time limits are rarely enforced to the letter. In only a few
situations will you find yourself cut off if you go too long,
and that's up to the individual club. Most clubs don't cut
speakers off if they go overtime.
It is common for clubs to use a set of timing lights to warn
the speakers of the advance of time. All speeches and
presentations have a time limit expressed as an interval, e.g.
5 to 7 minutes. A green light would be shown at 5 minutes,
amber at 6, and red at 7. In Table Topics, the lights would
go 1, 1.5, and 2 minutes respectively. When the green light
comes on, you've at least spoken enough, though you need not
finish right away, and when the yellow light comes on, you
should begin wrapping up. If you're not done by the time the
red light comes on, you should finish as soon as possible
without mangling the ending of your speech.
The only times you're actually *penalized* for going over or
under time is in speaking competition; in speech contests (see
the "Contests FAQ") you must remain within the interval or be
Some clubs hold an audience vote for "best speaker," "best
topic speaker," and "best evaluator" during the meeting and
it's a practice in some clubs to disqualify people who go over
or under time from these meeting awards. Check with the
particular club to see what they do.
13. Why all this structure to the meeting?
If meetings sound complicated, we're sorry. Meetings general-
ly are not complicated once you get used to the timing lights
in the back and the different roles members of the group play.
Since the average club is expected to have 20 or more members,
you need a lot of roles for people to play in order to involve
everyone. And, since meeting assignments vary from meeting to
meeting, everyone gets practice doing everything over the
course of several meetings. One meeting, you'll be assigned
to give a speech; the next, you might be timer; the next, you
might be the Toastmaster of the Meeting, running the whole
show. It keeps you flexible and it keeps you from having to
prepare a speech EVERY meeting, which would get old quickly.
14. I'm scared to death of speaking! Why should I look into
EVERYONE is afraid of speaking. In poll after poll, "public
speaking" comes up as more feared than "death." Public
speaking is the nation's #1 fear. You are no different. Even
if you think you're really good at speaking, there will come
times when your heart stops and your palms sweat and you
freeze before an audience. Toastmasters can help with that.
Remember that EVERYONE in a Toastmasters club is there because
at some point they realized they needed help communicating and
speaking before audiences. Almost everyone will remember how
wretched they felt when they gave their first speech. You may
be startled to find out how supportive a Toastmasters club
really can be. [The author of this FAQ recruited a friend to
Toastmasters who was so overwrought and nervous that she
sobbed as if her heart was broken after her first speech.
Ditto for the second. Some tears after the third. Eventually
she realized that we weren't going to eat her alive and she
came to enjoy it. By the time she earned her CTM, she
consistently won "best speaker" votes at our meetings.]
If you're aware how nervous you are but aren't convinced that
you should do anything about it, stop and think what skill is
more important than any other when it comes to getting and
keeping a good job?
Think you're already an excellent speaker? People who think
they're really good sometimes come into Toastmasters and find
out how unstructured and sloppy they really are. Being
comfortable doesn't mean that you're actually GOOD. Even if
you ARE good, you can always get better. Toastmasters can
give you a lot of skills and keep good speakers improving.
If you still don't know whether you'd like Toastmasters, why
not visit a meeting? If you still don't think it's your cup
of tea, we'll still be happy you came by.
15. How is Toastmasters more beneficial than other forms of
College and high school courses in public speaking usually
involve the students sitting through dozens of lectures
followed by one or two speaking opportunities. When the
speeches are over, you get a grade. Often, you get graded on
what you did wrong. This isn't a way to build reassurance and
motivation. Then too, you rarely get much of a chance to
practice by doing. You get up at the end of the semester,
give your speech, and sit down. Toastmasters is constant
reinforcement and constant improvement. You learn by doing,
not by sitting there while someone lectures for hours.
For-profit courses such as Dale Carnegie can be very good for
their participants. They also cost a lot and when they're
over, they're over. Toastmasters costs $36 per year (plus
club dues, if any) and it can last a lifetime.
16. Where should I go for further information?
See the Membership FAQ, the Educational Advancement FAQ, the
Leadership and Organization FAQ, and the Speech Contests FAQ. Ask
questions in alt.org.toastmasters. Write the poster of this
FAQ. Call Toastmasters International at 1-714-858-8255.
Write Toastmasters International at P.O. Box 9052, Mission
Viejo, California, 92690-7052.
17. Can I send mail to Toastmasters officials via the Internet?
If you need to send email to department heads at TI World Head-
quarters, there addresses are as follows (although be warned that
not every person listed below regularly checks their email -- some
are more accustomed to the Internet than others. If it's important,
send a letter through the regular mail.)
Terry McCann (Executive Director): t...@toastmasters.org
Daniel Rex (Marketing Division - Club Extension, New Member Processing,
and Merchandising): dr...@toastmasters.org
Stan Stills (District Admin, International Convention, Trademarks,
Nancy Langton (Finance and Policy Administration, including Club,
District, and International bylaws, policy administration, and
Debbie Horn (Education and Club Administration): dh...@toastmasters.org
Suzanne Frey (Publications and Public Relations, including Club
bulletins and "The Toastmaster" magazine): sf...@toastmasters.org
Toastmasters is a great organization! Check it out!
alt.org.toastmasters Frequently Asked Questions part 2 of 5:
Membership in Toastmasters International
1. How does one go about joining Toastmasters?
First, of course, you must have found a club to join. If you
have visited a club and found it to your liking, ask a member
(preferably an officer, who is more likely to be able to help
you) for an application form.
According to the bylaws all Toastmasters clubs operate under,
any new member of a club must be voted into membership by the
club. In practice, this rarely happens. Instead, members are
welcomed enthusiastically into the club as soon as a standard
membership application ("Form 400") is turned in with a check
for the appropriate dues.
2. How much does membership cost?
Upon joining Toastmasters, you will find yourself paying three
different fees. One is the standard $16.00 fee that every new
member must pay in order to receive educational materials (see
below). One is the standard International dues, $3.00 per
month. One is your Club dues, if any.
All Toastmasters clubs are billed in March and September for
semi-annual dues for their members who wish to remain members
for the next six months. If you join in between those
periods, you submit a _pro-rated_ share of the dues.
Clubs usually charge dues on top of the world dues. This is
so they'll have money in the treasury for expenses. It's up
to each club what they want to charge. Some clubs waive the
club dues for new members and only assess them at the semi-
annual dues payment dates.
So, to make a long story short, if you join at the following
times, you'd owe:
April or October: $16.00 + $18.00 + club dues
May or November: $16.00 + $15.00 + club dues
June or December $16.00 + $12.00 + club dues
July or January $16.00 + $9.00 + club dues
August or February $16.00 + $6.00 + club dues
September or March $16.00 + $3.00 + club dues
Then, once you're signed up, dues of $18.00 are assessed every
six months, in September and March.
* Note: due to California law, members of _California_ clubs
pay sales tax on their new member fee.
3. Can I belong to more than one club?
Yes. This is called "dual membership" even if you belong to more
than two clubs. When you join the second club, of course, you don't
need to pay the New Member fee because you don't need a second set of
starter materials (see below).
4. If I belong to more than one club, do I have to pay full dues for each?
Yes. If you belong to more than one club, you must nonetheless pay full
dues for each club.
5. Are my dues tax deductible?
In the United States, they are -- IF your job is of a sort
that requires or necessitates good communications skills. In
other words, it must be an educational expense to be tax
deductible. Toastmasters International will send you complete
tax deduction explanations if you request them to do so.
6. What do I get for my dues?
Your $18.00 semi-annual dues paid to World Headquarters goes
partly for a subscription to the _Toastmaster_ magazine
(which, to be honest, is an excellent magazine), partly to
support development of new educational programs (they've got
some *nice* new programs coming out these days), partly to
support operations at World Headquarters (i.e. the staff who
process membership applications, CTM applications, new club
applications, etc. etc. ad nauseam), and partly to support
your local District organization.
Furthermore, when you finish your CTM, you get three of the
Advanced project manuals for no extra charge to work toward
your ATM with.
Dues went up for the first time in over ten years last year
and as a result, dues should not rise for a long time (it was
like pulling teeth to get the most recent dues raise through,
and some members remain unconvinced that it was necessary).
This raise had a lot to do with printing costs and so forth
quintupling over the last decade.
Your club dues generally go to pay for the club's supplies,
such as ballots, awards, ribbons, and educational materials.
In some cases, such as when your club has a meal at each
meeting, your dues may go to pay for that.
7. What do I get for my New Member fee?
Your $16.00 New Member fee gets you the following:
* the Communication and Leadership project manual
* the "Gestures - Your Body Speaks" manual
* the "A Speaker's Guide to Evaluation" manual
* the Voice manual
The latter three are instructional manuals rather than project
manuals. Only the first is a workbook.
8. If I want to drop out of Toastmasters after joining, what do I
Simply wait for March or September to arrive and don't pay
your dues again.
It'd probably be a good idea to let your Vice President
Education know to stop scheduling you for speeches, though.
9. How receptive are clubs to new members?
Since most people are genuinely terrified of public speaking,
Toastmasters has its hands full recruiting members. There's
virtually no chance that you won't be enthusiastically
welcomed into any club you join and immediately be considered
one of the gang.
Occasionally, however, people get into bad situations, but the
same is true of ANY organization. There are jerks everywhere.
Toastmasters probably has its share. For this reason, the
author of this FAQ considers it a good idea to visit ALL
Toastmasters clubs in your area before deciding which one you
want to join.
If a club that you visit turns out to be full of jerks, please
don't assume that this is true of the entire organization.
Once in a while, people come to forget that they're part of a
larger organization and act as though the message and mission
of Toastmasters doesn't concern them. Please nod, leave, and
visit some other club. This is definitely the exception, but
we cannot honestly say that it never happens.
10. If I join, will they make me speak right away?
No. You will not be asked to speak unless you're ready to.
If you feel more comfortable waiting a few months, that's fine.
Most clubs attempt to arrange the meeting schedules in such
a way that most members are involved in some capacity at each
meeting, so you'll need to let them know what your wishes are.
Give Toastmasters a try! If you want information about clubs in your
area, do one of the following:
* call (714) 858-8255 and ask
* send a postcard to TI, P.O. Box 9052, Mission Viejo, CA 92690
* access http://www.toastmasters.org/index.html
* send email to tmi...@toastmasters.org (include a postal address)
We're looking forward to seeing you!
alt.org.toastmasters Frequently Asked Questions part 3 of 5:
Educational Advancement in Toastmasters International
1. What should my main objective be as a new Toastmasters member?
Well, there are two "right" answers to this question. The first is that
your main objective should be to attend every meeting you can and
participate to the fullest, helping yourself and the other members of
the club to become better communicators. The other "right" answer is
that you should be working toward the CTM award.
2. What does CTM stand for?
It stands for "Competent Toastmaster." The CTM is the basic speaking
certification offered through Toastmasters. Many members join, earn
their CTM, and drop out of the organization. It's the basic "diploma."
3. What do I have to do to earn a CTM?
You have to complete the Communication and Leadership (C&L) manual,
which in effect means you have go work your way through the ten speech
projects contained therein. When you finish your manual, you'll
complete the registration information in the back of the manual and send
it in to World Headquarters in California.
4. Do I have to give all the speeches at Toastmasters club meetings?
No. So long as you are giving the speech to an audience with at least
one Toastmasters member in attendance, and so long as a fellow Toastmas-
ter completes the manual evaluation for that project, you may count that
speech toward a CTM.
5. Do I have to work through the C&L manual in the order the projects are
No. You can do the projects out of order if you like. It is
recommended that you follow the order given since the projects progress
upwards in difficulty but if you have a speech idea or opportunity that
better suits one of the later projects you may skip over earlier ones
and do that one first.
6. When I finish the CTM what happens?
When you finish, there's a form in the back of your manual to fill out,
sign, and send in to World Headquarters. When your paperwork is
received at World Headquarters they enter it into the computer and you
are issued a CTM certificate. If you mark it on the registration sheet
they will also send a letter to your employer letting them know. Also,
when you send in the registration sheet you're asked what three advanced
manuals you'd like copies of, so you can start working on the ATM.
7. What's the ATM?
ATM means Able Toastmaster. It's the next level of Toastmasters
achievement after the CTM. If you like, you can consider the CTM the
"core curriculum" and the ATM your actual "major." As there are 12
"specializations" you can work on to get your ATM, this is a fairly
8. What do I have to do to get an ATM?
Well, it's a little more difficult than a CTM, for starters. You have
1) have received a CTM,
2) completed three of the Advanced manuals, each of which has five
3) have served a complete term as an elected club officer (e.g.
President, VP Education, VP Membership, VP Public Relations, Secre-
tary, Treasurer, or Sergeant at Arms). A term is one year in clubs
that meet twice monthly or monthly and six months in clubs that
4) have given three speeches before non-Toastmasters groups
9. What advanced manuals are available?
There are fourteen manuals available, each with five speech projects of
The Entertaining Speaker
Speaking To Inform
The Discussion Leader
Speeches By Management
The Professional Speaker
The Professional Salesperson
Communicating On Television
Special Occasion Speeches
You receive three of these for no cost when you complete your CTM.
Additional manuals cost $2.25 plus postage and handling.
10. Other than the CTM and ATM, what educational opportunities are there in
Well, there's the DTM, of which more in a moment, but there are also
Success/Leadership modules. If you'd like to delve in detail into
subjects such as management, the qualities of a leader, effective
listening, parliamentary procedure, creative thinking, and so forth,
Toastmasters International offers pre-packaged course materials for you
or a member of your club to present to a group of participants. These
courses are called Success/Leadership modules.
The modules come complete with instruction manuals for the participants
and for the coordinator, as well as overhead transparencies and so forth
to use during the session. The modules cost anywhere from $15 to $45,
with proceeds going to pay for development of MORE modules.
Modules are currently available on the following subjects: conducting
productive meetings, parliamentary procedure, Speechcraft (an eight-week
public speaking education program), effective listening, effective
evaluation, mental flexibility, the power of ideas, characteristics of
effective leaders, developing leadership skills, training, and develop-
ing management skills. There is an additional course available called
"Youth Leadership" which is similar to Speechcraft except that it's
targeted for children and teenagers and it's not formally part of the
The modules average just over two hours each. Modules are ordered
through the Supply Catalog (available for a dollar from World Headquar-
ters), but veteran members own many of them and will share them with
Toastmasters International has recently published a Leadership Manual
which contains various leadership projects. If you wish to undertake a
personalized development of your leadership skills, you may purchase the
Leadership manual and get the assistance of your club in working on its
projects. This training in leadership takes you along the same path you
travel on the way to a DTM and when you complete the Manual, you receive
a certificate attesting to your leadership excellence.
11. What happens after I earn an ATM?
The first thing that happens is that you send in the registration and
receive your certificate for your achievement. Members who earn ATM's
are listed in Hall of Fame section of the Toastmaster magazine, and TI
World Headquarters will send a letter to your employer if you wish
notifying them of your accomplishment.
After earning an ATM, you have two courses of action open to you. One
is to continue giving advanced manual speeches, and work towards the ATM
Bronze and ATM Silver awards. The other is to seek leadership opportuni-
ties and earn the DTM. The paths are NOT mutually exclusive; members
are encouraged to continue working down both avenues as they continue
their membership in Toastmasters.
12. What is an ATM Bronze and ATM Silver?
The ATM Bronze and ATM Silver are further advances along the Able
The requirements for the ATM Bronze are as follows. You must have:
1) completed an ATM,
2) completed three ADDITIONAL advanced manuals,
3) given five speeches, seminars, or workshops to non-Toastmasters
audiences in the previous two years,
4) coordinated two additional Success/Leadership modules.
As with the ATM, you must send in the registration to receive credit,
and again you are recognized in the Toastmaster, and may have a letter
sent to your employer.
The requirements for the ATM Silver are as follows. You must have:
1) completed the ATM Bronze,
2) completed three more advanced manuals other than those used for
the ATM and ATM Bronze,
3) have conducted a training seminar in a company or in public OR
have conducted a Toastmasters training session for Club or District
officers within two years of application.
4) have judged two Toastmasters speech contests above the club
5) presented a platform-style speech to an audience of not less
than 50 people.
As with the ATM, you must send in the registration to receive credit,
and again you are recognized in the Toastmaster, and may have a letter
sent to your employer.
13. Is there an ATM Gold award?
14. What is a DTM?
DTM stands for "Distinguished Toastmaster." The DTM is the highest
level of certification presently awarded by Toastmasters International.
The DTM is also the hardest award to earn. In order to qualify for a
DTM, you must:
1) be an ATM,
2) have four years continuous membership as of date of application,
3) have coordinated at least one registered Speechcraft program
within two years of application,
4) have coordinated at least one registered Youth Leadership
program within two years of application,
5) have presented to other than a Toastmasters audience at least
6) have served a complete term as an elected club officer,
7) have served a complete term as a District officer (e.g. District
Governor, any District Lieutenant Governor, Division Governor, Area
Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, or Public Relations Officer),
8) have served as official sponsor or mentor of a new club within
four years of application (note, up to four members may so qualify
for each new club) OR have served as Club Specialist (appointed by
the District Governor) in rebuilding an existing club with 9
members or less to a total of at least 20 members within four years
9) have sponsored five new members within one year of application.
These may not be charter members of a new club sponsored or
mentored by the applicant. To receive credit your name must appear
as the sponsoring member on the new members' membership application
15. What happens after I've earned a DTM and an ATM Silver?
You have several options. You may go back at any point after earning a
CTM and work your way through the C&L manual again and earn another CTM.
Some members earn a new CTM every year. This is one way in which
veteran members may remain polished at the fundamentals of public
speaking. You may also earn multiple ATM's and DTM's if you fulfill the
requirements multiple times. You can work on the Leadership Manual or
on presenting Success/Leadership projects. Given that the DTM and ATM
Silver take a minimum of four years to complete, and often longer, one
will not soon run out of things to work on in Toastmasters.
16. Is there anything else?
Well, yes. The very, very best speakers may qualify for the Accredited
Speaker program, a TI program to recognize those with professional
The requirements to qualify as an Accredited Speaker are as follows.
The applicant must:
1) be a current member of a Toastmasters club.
2) have given a minimum of 25 speaking engagements to non-Toastmas-
ters audiences within three years of application date. Copies of
five letters of acknowledgement or appreciation from any of the 25
engagements must be provided as documentary evidence of successful
3) pass a rigorous two-stage judging process.
Fewer than 25% of the members who apply for the Accredited Speaker
program become Accredited Speakers, and very few Toastmasters apply in
the first place. This program is only for the best.
17. Have you considered making a "speech bank" of good speeches presented
by Toastmasters members available for gopher or FTP?
Yes, this has been considered. Some people think it would be an
excellent idea, as they feel that there is no better way to learn
how to write a good speech than to study others' speeches at length.
Others, however, feel that a speech bank would lend itself more to
Toastmasters and non-Toastmasters alike using speeches without
attribution in speaking assignments or in speech classes, and that's
not something we want to encourage. Toastmasters is a learn-by-doing
type of environment, not a "copycat, adhere to this form or that form
that someone, somewhere called 'good'" environment. Furthermore,
a written copy of a speech contains none of the presentation and style
the speaker put into its delivery and, as such, cannot be considered
a full speech. To appreciate a speech and learn from it, you must
see it presented. Hence, as yet, no "speech bank" has been set up.
There's a lot to do in Toastmasters! Start today!
alt.org.toastmasters Frequently Asked Questions part 4 of 5:
Leadership and Organization
1. What leadership opportunities within the club are open to me as
a member of Toastmasters?
All clubs have a staff of club officers. These are elected
once or twice a year, depending on whether the club meets
weekly or every other week (or monthly, etc.). Clubs that
meet weekly usually elect for six month terms. Elections
usually take place in May for the term July 1 to June 30 and,
where applicable, in May for the term July 1 to December 30
and in November for the term January 1 to June 30.
Club offices (and their rank within the club) are as follows:
* President - chairs meetings and supervises all other
* Vice President Education - schedules meeting assign-
ments and works with members to see that their
needs are met
* Vice President Membership - runs club membership drive
and also works to keep members satisfied and happy
* Vice President Public Relations - makes sure club
meeting listings appear in the media, puts posters
* Secretary - sends correspondence on behalf of the
club, keeps club records and minutes
* Treasurer - handles financial affairs, such as dues
* Sergeant of Arms - sets meeting room up, puts stuff
away, greets guests, etc.
Club offices are open to ANY member. There is no reason why
a new member cannot run for President without serving in any
other club office.
2. What leadership opportunities are open to me OUTSIDE the club?
You can serve as Area Governor, Division Governor, District
Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations
Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District
Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, District Governor,
International Director, International Vice-President, or
International President. To explain what all these mean, you
need to know more about each level.
3. What is an Area?
Clubs are grouped into Areas of three to eight Clubs. Each
Area has its own Area Governor, a member of one of the clubs
appointed by the District Governor to serve the Area. Area
Governors are usually, but not always, members of a club in
the Area they are responsible for.
Areas have Area Speech Contests several times a year, with
winners from the Club levels going on to the Area Contest.
The winner of the Area Contest goes on to the Division.
Areas also share Area goals, determined by formulas set at
World Headquarters, such as "x number of clubs at 20 members
in strength" and "x number of CTM's in the various clubs." If
an Area meets or exceeds all its goals, its Area Governor is
recognized for hard work motivating the clubs.
4. What is a Division?
Areas are grouped into Divisions. Divisions may be as small
as one Area in size (rarely) or as have five, six, or more
Areas. Each Division has its own Division Governor. Division
Governors are usually members of clubs within their Division and
are elected once a year at the Annual District Business
Meeting. The Division Governor works with his Area
Governors to motivate the clubs to high membership and to have
good, effective educational programs.
Divisions have Division Speech Contests several times a year,
with winners from the Areas coming together to compete. The
Division winners go on to the District level.
Divisions have Division goals, just as Areas do. A good
Division Governor will work with his clubs and Areas to
increase membership and educational effort.
5. What is a District?
Districts in some cases are equivalent to "states" and in
other cases are smaller or larger. If you think of a District
as "the state organization" you won't be too far off.
Districts are comprised of several Divisions. Districts are
the main level of organization outside the Club; Areas and
Divisions are _sub-units_ of the District.
California has several Districts because there are so many
clubs there. North Carolina, on the other hand, is a single
District. England and Scotland and Ireland are one District
all together, and Australia and New Zealand comprise several
Districts. Smaller countries with only a few clubs each are
Unincorporated clubs which report directly to World Headquar-
ters instead of to Districts.
Each District has its own set of officers, most of whom are
elected at the District Spring Conference (or Fall Conference
in the Southern Hemisphere). The officers include: District
Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations
Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District
Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, and District
Governor. The last three are always elected and the first
three are elected or appointed depending on local preference.
If they are appointed in your District, it's the newly elected
District Governor who does the appointing.
And yes, Districts have their own District-wide goals. The
various District officers work with the clubs, Areas, and
Divisions to build membership, start new clubs, promote the
earning of CTM's and ATM's, and so forth.
Districts have speech contests several times a year, as the
Division winners come together at the District Conferences to
compete for the District crowns.
6. Whoa! That sounds complicated!
It is, but that's the price you pay for:
* having enough offices to fill that a lot of people get
the opportunity to serve, and
* having enough officers on the spot to help out clubs
that have problems (e.g. low membership).
Let's look at a made-up example to illustrate the organiza-
Joe belongs to the Wide Valley Toastmasters Club (club 19521).
The Wide Valley Toastmasters club belongs to Area 4, Central
Division, District 95. Area 4 is the city of Wide Valley with
four clubs. The Central Division is Areas 4, 5, and 6,
comprising the mid-state area. District 95 is the eastern
half of the state. Area 4 has an Area Governor who works with
the Wide Valley club and the other three clubs in the Area.
The Central Division has a Division Governor who works with
all 12 clubs in his Division and with the three Area Governors
under her. District 95 has five Divisions and its own set of
officers. Joe goes to various speech contests in his Area,
Division, and District and once a year represents his club at
the Spring Conference to elect new officers and vote on other
District policy matters.
7. How do I get to be a District officer?
If you want to be an Area Governor, show up at a lot of events
outside your club and get to know the people around your
District. Work hard within your club. Eventually, you'll be
considered for appointment as an Area Governor. It doesn't
hurt to ask the people who are running for District Governor
to consider appointing you. If you want to be a Division
Governor or other District Officer, you've usually got to run
for the office. Each club in a District gets two votes and
the clubs that have representatives at the Spring Conference
vote and decide who'll serve for the next year. Terms always
run July 1 to June 30, by the way, so elections are usually
held in April or May.
Another good way to get to be a District officer is to
volunteer to help a District committee. You don't get DTM
credit for helping a committee or serving as a District
committee chair, but you get *known* and that's usually all it
takes to get asked to serve the next time around.
8. What levels are beyond the District?
Technically, none -- just Toastmasters International. The
Districts *do* get together for *Regional* Conferences in June
of each year, but the Regions are not formally constituted
bodies. They're just groupings of eight or so Districts.
Each Region is entitled to representation on the Board of
Directors of Toastmasters International in the form of two
International Directors who serve two-year terms, with one
being elected each year, but it is the world body that elects
these officers, not the Regions themselves. The main require-
ment for representing a Region is that you have residency and
membership in a club in that Region. Once you are elected,
however, you serve the world, not just the clubs of your
At the Regional Conferences, you also find speech contests,
with the various District winners squaring off. Only one
contestant goes on to the World level; the humorous speaking
and evaluation contests stop at the Regional level, leaving
the International Speech Contest contestants to decide the
World Championship of Public Speaking each August at the World
Regions do not have regional goals. They're not organized
9. What's the World Convention?
The World Convention takes place each August in a North
American city. The main feature of the Conference, other that
presentation of awards for effort during the preceding year,
is the Annual Business Meeting, at which International
officers are elected and policies are made and changed.
The clubs have the voting strength at the world level, with
two votes each. Districts often wind up voting the proxies
for clubs which don't make it to the Annual Business Meeting
There are a dozen elections to be held each August: eight (or
nine, if it's the year to elect the director from Overseas)
International Directors, three Vice Presidents, and one
President. As there are eight Regions (with two Directors
each) and one amalgamated Overseas area (with one Director)
sending Directors to the world board, necessarily there are
seventeen Directors, serving two-year terms each. There is an
International President and three International Vice-Presi-
dents who serve over the whole kit and kaboodle. They serve
one year each.
10. So the Board of Directors and the President and Vice Presidents
make all the decisions about dues and so forth?
Yes and no. Any proposals they wish to see adopted that
constitute actual changes to the constitution and bylaws of
the organization require a vote by the assembled clubs, with
each club having two votes. As above, the District officers
gather proxies from any clubs that aren't going to be at the
annual business meeting in August.
11. What do I get for serving as an officer?
If you serve as a club officer, you earn credit toward an ATM.
If you serve as a District officer, you earn credit toward a
DTM. Service on the International level doesn't earn you
anything in particular because you've usually already earned
everything there is to earn by that point.
But, more importantly, you get tremendous leadership experi-
ence. With everyone a volunteer and no club HAVING to do what
its District officers suggest, you have to develop powerful
persuasive abilities to guide the clubs and members in the
There's a lot of opportunity to grow in Toastmasters. Check it out!
alt.org.toastmasters Frequently Asked Questions part 5 of 5:
Toastmasters International Speech Contests
1. What's all this about speech contests?
In order to provide for people who enjoy competitive speaking,
and in order to showcase the best, Toastmasters clubs hold
speech contests as many as five times a year. Each contest
starts at the club level and works its way up through Area and
Division to the District. Three contests go on to Regional
and one goes on to the World Convention each August.
The contests are:
* Tall Tales - 3 to 5 minutes in length. A tall tale, which
must be original (you can't use someone else's material).
Goes as far as the District level in most Districts.
* Table Topics - 1 to 2 minutes in length. Impromptu speak-
ing. All contestants are taken out of the room and brought
back in one by one to speak on the *same* topic, which should
be general in nature and not require specialized knowledge
which some contestants might have while others might not.
Since no contestant hears the topic before his turn to speak
on it, you can judge their impromptu speaking abilities by the
way in which each person's effort stacks up against the
others. Goes as far as the District level in most Districts.
* Evaluation - 2 to 3 minutes in length. A target speaker
gives a speech which all the evaluation contestants are to
evaluate. The contestants are taken from the room and given
five minutes to prepare their speeches and make notes. Then,
their notes are taken away and they are brought back into the
room one by one (at which time the contestant gets his notes
back) to deliver their oral evaluation of the target speech.
Since no contestant hears what another said about the target
speech, the judges can compare the analytical abilities of the
contestants. Goes as far as the Regional level in Regions 8;
the other Regions do not have it.
* Humorous speech - 5 to 7 minutes. Humorous speaking, which
must be original. Year after year, people hear the rules read
to them and then stand up and present Bill Cosby routines and
then act puzzled when they're disqualified. It's supposed to
be a *speech*, not a monologue, and it MUST be original. It
should also be "clean." So-called "blue humor" will get you
zero points in the "appropriateness" column of the judges'
forms. In other words, it should be a five-to-seven minute
speech with a lot of humor value, but ALSO displaying good
speechmaking abilities. Goes as far as the Regional level in
* International Speech - 5 to 7 minutes. Any topic at all, so
long as it's original. Can be funny, serious, whatever. It
should be the best speech you can give, and it must be
original. Did I mention that it must be original? Don't do
what so many speakers do and crib at length from someone
else's works and then expect that no one in the audience will
smell a rat. The reason this contest is called "International
Speech" instead of "General Speech" or "Miscellaneous Speech"
is because it's the only one of the five contests that goes as
far as the World level. Each August, winners from the eight
Regions and the Overseas clubs (9 contestants in all) compete
at the World Convention in the World Championship of Public
2. How do you pick the winners?
Each contest has a set of rules which mandate originality and
lay down the procedures. If you go over your time limit by
thirty seconds, you're eliminated. If you go UNDER your time
limit by thirty seconds, you're eliminated -- except in Table
Topics, where you must speak at least one minute, no less.
Out in the audience, there'll be a set of judges, scattered
among the audience, each with a points form that they use to
rate you against what a winning effort should be and how you
stack up against the others. There's a different form for
each contest, since each contest involves different skills.
3. Who gets to compete?
Any member in good standing (i.e. you've got your dues paid)
can compete when the contests come around -- except for
current District and International officers and candidates for
same -- except for the International Speech Contest. To
compete in the International Speech Contest, you must have
given at least six manual speeches towards your CTM. This
requirement is intended to prevent professional speakers from
joining Toastmasters out of the blue solely to compete toward
the World Championship of Public Speaking. District and
International officers are barred so the judges won't be
swayed by their titles.
4. When do the contests take place?
It varies from District to District. Some Districts have two
contests in the fall, one in the winter, and two in the
spring. Others have two in the fall, two in the winter, and
one in the spring. All that matters as far as Toastmasters
International is concerned is that all Districts must have
held their Evaluation, Humorous, and International Speech
contests by the time the Regional conferences roll around in
5. What do I get if I win a contest?
At the club level, sometimes all you get is a handshake and
some applause. By the time you've gotten up to Division and
District levels, you're getting some fairly impressive
6. My District has different rules for the various speech contests.
Is this permitted?
This situation came up recently in District 37 (North Carolina).
A club was told that the official District rules for the Humorous
Speech Contest mandated similar eligibility requirements for the
Humorous contest as for the International Speech contest, to wit,
all contestants had to have been members on or before July 1 of the
current year, and had to have given at least four (I.S. requires six)
manual speeches. According to the District officers involved,
these were the official rules for all Humorous Speech contests held
in North Carolina, and even though the official rules mailed to
all clubs by Toastmasters International mandated that the only
eligibility requirement be membership in good standing in a club
in good standing, the District 37 rules applied nonetheless.
The club President in question checked with TI WHQ and was told
in no uncertain terms that any District which holds speech contests
must use the official Toastmasters International rules and that
Districts are not permitted to change the rules as published by
Toastmasters International in any way.
This policy of course doesn't apply to contests the District has
invented on its own, but for the Big 5 (International, Humorous,
Table Topics, Tall Tales, and Evaluation), if your District has
changed the time limits, eligibility requirements, or policy
regarding originality (one District supposedly waived the origi-
nality requirement for the Tall Tales contest), they're in the
wrong. If they don't believe this to be the case, ask them to
contact Toastmasters International World Headquarters themselves.
They'll be swiftly corrected.
Why is this important, by the way? Simple: the only official
rules most clubs get for the contests are the ones TI themselves
mail out. It would be tremendously discouraging to be belatedly
told that the rules your club had used for the contest you won
were not the official rules as practiced in YOUR District, and
thus, you can't compete at the next level. In many cases, 'Offi-
cial District Rules' are known only by those who have a dog-eared
photocopy that's five years old (as was the case in District 37).
That's wrong. If your District has changed the rules, tell them
they can't, and if they say "Sure we can," let TI World HQ know.
Contests are fun, but it's important to run them the same way
everywhere around the world. Fairness and a level playing field
aren't just luxuries. They're required.
7. Hey, what about the Debate Contest or the Interpretive Reading
Contest or some other contest you didn't mention?
Districts can hold whatever contests they want in addition to
the five sanctioned International contests listed above. However,
these vary from District to District and it would not be possible
to list all the various speech contests held throughout the world
of Toastmasters here in this FAQ.
Find out when your next speech contest is, and ask about competing or
being a judge. It's fun!