Author: Andy Goldstein, NASBA Electronic Media Specialist and Webmaster
The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) estimates that U.S. organizations spent more than $130 billion on employee learning and development in 2007, with almost half being allocated to external services such as workshops, vendors and external events.
If your company is seeking to conduct internal leadership and communication training with proven results, while staying cost-effective and affordable, look no further than Toastmasters International.
Ralph Smedley founded Toastmasters in 1924 while serving as the director of education for the YMCA in Santa Ana, California. His inspiration for creating the organization stemmed from his observations of young YMCA patrons needing training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings. The first Toastmasters meeting was later held in the basement of a YMCA.
Since then, Toastmasters has grown to more than 270,000 members in more than 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Club members mentor each other in a formal meeting environment as they learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking, which help improve communication and leadership skills.
Toastmasters' meetings include prepared speeches, thoughtful evaluations of the prepared speeches and an impromptu session called Table Topics, which encourages members to think on their feet and speak without preparation on a presented topic. Whether speaking, evaluating or watching for grammar mistakes, it is Toastmasters tradition that every member speak at a meeting.
Many organizations have made Toastmasters training an integral part of employee education and development programs. More than 40% of Toastmasters' clubs worldwide are sponsored by a corporation or organization, including NASBA’s club, SpeakUp NASBA.
SpeakUp NASBA was chartered in 2006 under former NASBA President and CEO David Costello, CPA. Throughout his tenure, Costello referred to Toastmasters as the best benefit NASBA offers its employees.
In recognition of the support of its club, NASBA was presented with Toastmasters' Corporate Recognition Award in 2011. The award, presented twice a year, recognizes organizations that have displayed significant support for the Toastmasters program. NASBA was selected for the award from over 12,500 chapters.
SpeakUp NASBA Club President Jared Throneberry said he believes Toastmasters is tailored to speaking in the workplace because it not only provides the tools for effective communication, but also teaches time management, leadership and organization.
"A company should want a Toastmasters club to produce employees that can think on their feet, communicate clearly in any setting and be competent managers," said Throneberry.
Don Bittick, who is a member of two Toastmasters clubs, serves as District 63 Lt. Governor of Education. District 63 is made up of approximately 1,700 members in 91 clubs located in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. He said members of his corporate club have taken on leadership positions within the company, and are very active in company-sponsored community service projects.
"I truly believe that our members are not just making a positive impact within their clubs and companies, but also in their communities, churches, families, etc.," said Bittick. "It is truly inspiring to see our members reach higher levels of confidence because of their experiences with Toastmasters."
Starting a club is fairly easy on the budget too, especially when compared to expensive off-site training workshops. Start-up costs include a one-time fee of $125 to charter the club and a $20 new-member fee, per person. After that, an individual’s yearly membership costs $72. Many organizations encourage and support their employees in starting a Toastmasters club by providing the meeting location and by offering Toastmasters as an employee benefit (reimbursing or paying for employee membership fees).
Before springing for that off-site corporate training seminar, it may be worth starting a Toastmasters club within your organization. For more information about Toastmasters, please visit its website and watch the video.
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