“A global leader in communication and leadership enhancement” is how Toastmasters International describes itself. Throughout the world, thousands of people from all walks of life gather together every month at a Toastmasters club level meeting to speak, and to learn to speak in public in front of an audience. Whilst most people think that Toastmasters is only about public speaking, there is more essence and substance that one experiences through such programmes.
Benefits of Toastmasters
- Training to improve public speaking capabilities
- Opportunity to fine-tune speech craft and communication
- Enhancement of leadership skills
- Platform to build networks and create friendships
- Added confidence and morale to day to day life
STRUCTURE OF TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL
CLUB > AREA > DIVISION > DISTRICT > GLOBAL
A group of Toastmasters clubs form an Area, and a collection of Areas form a Division. Divisions within a single geographic entity make up the District. Districts are categorized into Regions throughout the world, and these Regions make up Toastmasters International, the global body. Balraj Arunasalam from Sri Lanka served as the International President of Toastmasters for the year 2017/18.
HISTORY OF TOASTMASTERS IN SRI LANKA
Toastmasters in Sri Lanka was established in the year 1983, with the inception of the Colombo Toastmasters Club. To date, the Colombo Toastmasters Club remains the oldest Toastmasters club in Sri Lanka, followed by the Smedley Toastmasters Club, which was established in the year 2004.
Over the years, more and more Toastmasters clubs have been formed in the island. While a considerable number of them remain as open clubs, there has also been a pickup in the number of corporate and organization-based clubs, which operate privately for their own personnel.
Sri Lanka Toastmasters, which falls under District 82 of the global body, has produced several champion speakers both nationally and internationally. Among such achievements, the greatest milestone to date would be Dananjaya Hettiarachchi winning the World Champion of Public Speaking contest in 2014. The winning speech still stands as a milepost for all aspiring Toastmasters in Sri Lanka.
JOIN A TOASTMASTERS CLUB IN SRI LANKA
There are a number of Toastmasters Clubs in Sri Lanka for any interested party to join. It is vital that the preferred club’s monthly meeting point is within easy accessibility from the individual’s home or workplace. It should also be noted that clubs based within Companies or organizations are not open to public, and hence, one should approach a public Toastmasters club.
The open clubs are formed by people from different backgrounds, and hence, there are no restrictions on who can join such clubs. There will be an annual fee which differs from club to club, and would be around LKR 15,000 which can be paid through installments. The normal practice is to attend about three or four meetings at a preferred club, get a feel of the club culture and Toastmasters in general, and proceed towards obtaining membership.
After gaining membership, each Toastmaster will be given a Path under the new Pathways learning programme. There are currently 10 Paths on offer, and each Path comprises of activities and projects that help work on and build the communication and leadership skills of the individual. Completion of 02 Paths under the Pathways programme would result in the individual being regarded as a Distinguished Toastmaster; a DTM.
Become a Toastmaster
If you feel that you need to improve your speech and communication skills, or if you want to drive your competencies and recognition within society, or if you feel that you need to add extra value to life, Toastmasters would be a great pathway. You will have to work hard and put in some effort, but the more you sow, the more you would be able to reap in a matter of months and years. So, shed the feelings of fear and nerves, and get on to a pathway of learning and speaking.