Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking and leadership skills in a personal practice-based format. The organization has existed for around 90 years and has chapters in over 140 countries.
Learn and practice the art of effective public speaking
Learn to overcome anxiety and speak confidently before an audience
Improve the structure and flow of your message; including speech openings, closings, and transitions
Sharpen your listening and analytical skills as you give constructive evaluations to fellow members
Practice thinking on your feet while speaking extemporaneously (impromptu, on the spur of the moment)
Refine your skills selling or persuading others of the value of your ideas, visions, services, or products
Enjoy being part of a constructive and supportive environment
Feel free to stop by and sit in on any one of our meetings - no reservations or prior arrangements required!
The Ken Edwards Center
1527 4th St., Room 100A (across 4th Street from Santa Monica Place shopping center)
Santa Monica, California 90401
Parking is available beneath the building including company spaces (OK to park there after 6pm). Another close parking option is the Santa Monica Place shopping center across the street.
If you are coming by freeway you would head west on the Santa Monica (10) freeway until the very last exit for 4th and 5th Streets before the freeway changes direction and morphs into the Pacific Coast Highway.
After getting off the freeway at the 4th and 5th Street exit, stay over to the right of the exit ramp, turning right on 4th Street. Proceed through the light on 4th Street, crossing Colorado Avenue. The Ken Edwards Center is on the right hand side of 4th Street in the middle of the block (between Colorado Ave. and Broadway St.).
An excellent alternative is using the Expo train on the Los Angeles Metro system to come to a meeting. The final station for the Expo train in Santa Monica is one half block away on 4th Street from our Ken Edwards Center meeting location.
As a first option you can park beneath the Ken Edwards Center. The driveway to the parking is in the middle of the block off 4th St and comes up quickly, with no sign out front, so you will have to pay attention. The rates are the same as other Santa Monica municipal lots; the first ninety (90) minutes are free and the next half hour costs $2.00, with each subsequent 30 minutes costing $1.50. Toastmaster is a very low budget non-profit organization, consequently we don't validate parking receipts as we would have to raise our membership dues to cover those costs.
Another parking option is across 4th Street in the Santa Monica Place shopping center. The parking rates there are the same as noted above for the Ken Edwards Center.
To visit as a guest for any number of meetings, absolutely free. To join as an ongoing member the club dues are $17.00 per month, collected semi-annually. There is also a $20 one-time setup fee for new members that have never been in the Toastmaster system before.
No problem at all if you are a complete "newbie". Though the composition of club changes, there is always a mix of new members and more experienced speakers that one can watch and absorb more refined technique from. We believe Toastmasters provides a 'safe' place where you can take risks as a public speaker -- better to use those opportunities here so you are on your mark when in the real world. You decide when you are comfortable to assume greater speaking responsibilities.
A typical meeting has three different speaking sections. There is an impromptu / extemporaneous speaking section (called Table Topics) that gives members practice in thinking quickly and coherently on their feet as we must all do at times in real life. A second part of the meeting concerns prepared speeches or leadership exercises with topics of the presenter's choosing. The third major portion is an evaluation phase to provide constructive feedback to the speakers with prepared speeches. Where they did well and where they can improve.
The foundation of the Toastmasters program is called Pathways, offering eleven separate educational paths members may choose from for delivering presentations they would prepare to refine their speaking and leadership skills. Members work through the sequence of presentations at their own pace, acquiring the essential building blocks of communications technique, while building confidence.
As you build competence in your skill set you will be presented with progressive challenges to further broaden your technique, turning you into a well-rounded communicator and leader. Additional paths within the Pathways framework can be pursued to extend your skill range across disciplines.
Another opportunity to build your expertise within Toastmasters is to participate in periodic speaking contests, held annually. These advance from head-to-head competition within each Toastmasters chapter to successively higher levels outside the club. A brief overview of contests may be found here.