"I would never consider talking in public and that was my justification for not joining toastmasters for decades. I, after all, was one of those people who was simply not a public speaker so this is why I did not join, I did not want to be with people who enjoyed talking in public until one day I thought what if? What if I tried? What if I just went along to see? I did not have to come back. Ok I will do it! I will go along and that was it. One year later, I am now a competent speaker running workshops and being confident in all situations. What happened the first day I went along? I was among people who understood the fear and was encouraged to simply say a sentence and then before long I was giving ten minutes speeches. I had climbed over the wall. I had overcome my fear. This is not to say I am not a little nervous or that I am a fantastic speaker. No! But I can do it!" Laura Clark
Toastmasters began as a series of speaking clubs organised by Ralph C. Smedley during his time working for the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) in llinois, United States. As director of education, Smedley decided to organise a club where members could learn to public speak. He named the group the Toastmasters Club; "toastmaster" was a popular term that referred to a person who gave toasts at banquets and other occasions.
Ralph C. Smedley died in 1965. In 1970, Toastmasters International admitted its first female member, Helen Blanchard, under the name Homer Blanchard. In 1973, Toastmasters began officially admitting women, and in 1985, Helen became Toastmasters' first female international president.
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