Toastmasters International exists to help everyday people become better speakers and leaders. People from every walk of life (professionals, trade workers, homemakers, and more) belong to Toastmasters for a variety of reasons.
Toastmasters was founded in 1924. Its founder, Ralph C. Smedley, was working at at the YMCA when he noticed that many of the young men who visited the YMCA were not adept at public speaking. He decided to start a social club/training program to teach these young men how to speak and preside over meetings. He named the group Toastmasters, in reference to the person who proposes a toast and introduces the speakers at a banquet or similar function. What started out as a small group of young men in the 1920's has become a club with more than 270,000 members in countries all over the world.
Toastmasters meetings are no-pressure gatherings at which members have the opportunity to practice both speaking and leadership skills. In addition, meetings also provide an opportunity for socialization, making it a great place to make acquaintances. Toastmasters clubs are peer-guided groups with no instructors and members work through a self-paced curriculum. Meetings usually last from an hour to an hour and a half and a typical group size is 20-40 members. Membership dues vary by group but generally cost less than $100 per year.
There are more than 80 Toastmasters groups meeting in the Memphis area. Some of these are restricted to residents of certain communities or employees of particular companies. Nevertheless, there are nearly 60 groups that are open to all. You may visit groups for free to try to find the one that is right for you. Visitors are not asked to speak publicly. Be sure to call or email the group before your first visit to confirm meeting times and locations.
Visit the Toastmasters International website for meeting locations and additional information.