“You go to Toastmasters?”
“Do you wear one of those red coats and have a gavel?”
“Um… no. I don’t think that’s on the agenda.”
So goes some people’s confusion when I tell them that I’m a member of Toastmasters. After a bit of searching around I discovered that there are in fact TWO types of Toastmasters in existence.
The first, which I’m a member of and talk about a lot on this blog, is Toastmasters International. This is a non-profit international organisation that provides an opportunity for people to practise and hone their communication and leadership skills.
The other Toastmasters, that people think of and then end up confusing the two, is The Toastmasters Guild. From their website:
“The London Guild of Toastmasters is an association of Professional Toastmasters and Masters of Ceremonies who officiate at many functions where correct etiquette is required e.g. Royal, Civic, Livery, weddings etc”.
These Toastmasters practise their skills for at least two years before they are allowed to join the Guild. They promote and advocate good etiquette, correct procedure, the Queen’s English using clear voice & diction and insist that members conduct functions in a dignified manner. These are the Toastmasters who wear the red coats and white gloves.
When I checked out their website there was a page about training, but no information supplied as to what that training involved. So I don’t actually know is there’s a connection Toastmasters International other than just the name.
I’m not 1o0% on this, but I believe that the Guild is only an organisation that exists in the U.K. They do work up and down the country and sometimes internationally. But whether you can train with a Guild based in your country, if you live outside the U.K., I don’t know.
If officiating ceremonies like weddings appeals to you then over a look at their website, try to see a Toastmaster in action if you can and maybe sign up to their training programme. You could use TM International to learn how to speak in public and then join Then train with the TM Guild to put those skills to use.