Collaboration has always been a hallmark of the Toastmasters program: members helping each other through feedback, mentoring, and leadership-building. Now Toastmasters International itself is collaborating with another prestigious organization: Rotary International.
The Toastmasters-Rotary alliance, announced earlier this year, leverages the strengths of both organizations to help members grow personally and professionally. Toastmasters helps empower people to become better communicators and leaders. Rotary is dedicated to humanitarian service, aiding others through fighting disease, promoting peace, and supporting education and health efforts.
“Both of our organizations have a track record of transforming lives, though in very different ways,” says Deepak Menon, DTM, Toastmasters’ 2019–2020 International President. “When we put our two organizations together, we can make an even bigger impact on the world.”
Toastmasters has delivered two educational courses to Rotary and will deliver six more in a phased rollout this year. Tailored to members of Rotary and Rotaract—a membership type for young adults—the courses will include speech assignments and peer evaluation, helping Rotary members develop and hone their leadership and communication skills.
Toastmasters members, in turn, can benefit from connecting with Rotarians—1.2 million members and nearly 200,000 Rotaractors in almost every country in the world. Through Rotary, they can gain more opportunities to strengthen their communication skills, expand their networks, and positively impact their communities, adds Menon of New Delhi, India.
Some Toastmasters and Rotary members have already teamed up in Toastmasters clubs founded by Rotarians. Rotary members say they benefit greatly from their Toastmasters involvement, pointing to the improvement in their communication and leadership skills—important attributes for members advocating for humanitarian causes. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.”
“It’s service, but if you don’t have communication skills and know how to work with people, it doesn’t work, and Toastmasters is key to that,” says Neal Marsh, DTM, a longtime member of both organizations and a founding member of a Toastmasters club in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Toastmasters members say they are inspired by Rotary and its commitment to social issues. “There is a sense of camaraderie that permeates their attitude of ‘being of service,’” says Linda Farley, DTM, District 53 Director. “They share the Toastmasters core values but with a Rotarian perspective.”
Terry Beard, a Rotarian and founding member of a Toastmasters club in Portland, Oregon, has participated in many Rotary projects, including Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and trips to Chile for humanitarian work. In a post published on the Rotary Voices blog, he wrote that Toastmasters helps Rotarians find their voice and “better share their Rotary story with the public.”
“As we build our communication and leadership skills, we become better equipped to tackle the world’s problems,” he added.
The two organizations are both venerable institutions, with Rotary International founded in 1905 and Toastmasters International created nearly 20 years later. They are also built similarly—on a foundation of clubs, Districts, and regions. Their values share an emphasis on service and integrity.
Toastmasters and Rotary are urging their members to welcome and learn more about each other. Members are encouraged to invite each other to meetings, either as guests or featured speakers. Rotary International President Mark Daniel Maloney, of Decatur, Alabama, says members are also encouraged to hold an open house to meet and collaborate, as well as to participate in different club activities, such as a service project or public-speaking workshop.
“At Rotary, our vision statement says that we not only strive to make lasting change in communities around the world, but also within ourselves,” notes Maloney. “Working with Toastmasters is an exciting opportunity to reflect inward and find new ways to grow.”
Paul Sterman is senior editor , executive and editorial Content of Toastmaster magazine.