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A toast to the Toastmasters

microphone for public speaking toastmasters

The Toastmasters  Club dates back to the early 1900s; when, in 1905, a YMCA educational director, Ralph C. Smedley, saw a need for public-speaking education. He organized the first Toastmasters Club, named for the role of a banquet toastmaster.

In 1922, Smedley moved to California and organized what became the first official Toastmasters International Club. In 1924, an article about the club was published in the YMCA publication, and word started to spread. In 1926, a second club was started. Throughout the 1930s, the organization grew to more than 100 clubs. Today, Toastmasters International has a membership of about 280,000 people in more than 14,700 clubs. The clubs are in 144 different countries.

According to the organization’s website, “Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs … . Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders.”

Rosie Suerdieck is a distinguished Toastmaster and the president of Cosmic Communicators, Falcon’s Toastmasters Club. She started participating in Toastmasters years ago when her husband invited her to a meeting that he ended up not attending. “Now, I’m a distinguished Toastmaster,” Suerdieck said. “People join it and say, ‘Oh, this isn’t what I thought it would be. This is fun!’”

The Falcon Club held an open house at Meridian Ranch Recreations Center Feb. 7, she said. Currently, the club meets via Zoom, but Suerdieck said they are trying to find a physical location in the Falcon area. “We will have a hybrid from that point forth,” she said. “People who want to attend in person will have a location to go to.”

The Cosmic Communicators meet via Zoom on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, from 6 to 7 p.m. See below for contact information.

Colorado Springs has several clubs that meet at various times of the day on different days of the week. “That’s what I like about Toastmasters … you can see what clubs are available and can work with your schedule,” Suerdeick said.

Dori Rinehart, president of the 21st Century Toastmasters Club, said there are three aspects of Toastmasters that she enjoys. “My focus has changed over the years. I started in 2008, and what I liked most was getting out of my shell because I was petrified of public speaking,” Rinehart said. “Over the years, I’ve benefited from the leadership roles. I’ve learned a lot in a safe environment. And there is the social aspect. You meet amazing people that you wouldn’t come across in the day-to-day (encounters). Those are the three aspects of Toastmasters that I love the most.”

Toastmasters also holds an international speech contest. Members can compete at the area, division and district level, all the way to becoming the world champion, said Bonnie Ann Smith, a long-time Toastmasters member. She gained confidence to go back to college and get a master’s degree. “It’s the best thing I ever did,” Smith said. “In Toastmasters, I found being seen and heard is extremely important for me in my life.”

Contact Falcon’s Cosmic Communicators at https://cosmiccommunicators@gmail.com.

A full list of Toastmasters clubs can be found on the Toastmasters website at https://www.toastmasters.org.

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