MacDill Toastmasters Club: “Where Leaders Are Made”

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Scott Warner
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.In the military, strong leadership is needed to complete the mission and is paramount for any organization to be successful.

But where does someone learn the skills necessary to become a stronger leader?

A good place to start is Toastmasters International, an organization with a motto of “Where Leaders Are Made.”

Toastmasters International was founded by Ralph Smedley in 1924 with the purpose of improving the communication, public speaking, and leadership skills of its participants. Members don’t need a title, rank or position to be in a leadership role, just a desire to learn and speak to a group of people.

“There are a total of 352,000 members in 141 different countries with 15,400 chapters,” said Vijayn Nair, the district 48 director of Toastmasters International. “District 48 alone, which includes Hillsborough County, there are 139 chapters and 3,200 members.”

In 2012, MacDill established its own Toastmasters Chapter, which has provided military personnel, civilian employees, and dependents a venue to develop public speaking and leadership skills,

During Toastmasters club meetings, members can expect an experiential learning style, where members learn by doing.

“The interactive environment challenges members to create specific speech projects to deliver to a group of expert evaluators,” said Jill Lawson, the president of the MacDill Chapter. “Speaking, listening, assessing, and influencing are skills that are developed at every meeting.”

Members are also enrolled in self-paced programs to accommodate their work and lifestyle.

“When I was tasked to lead in meetings and briefs, my leadership encouraged that I seek out development in public speaking,” said Tech. Sgt. Ben L. Abbott, a non-commissioned officer in charge of communication circuits assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command. “Toastmasters International has given me a platform to practice and that practice has built my confidence and skillset to where I feel ready for the position I am appointed to.”

“What sets Toastmasters International apart from other training classes is that toastmasters embark upon a pathway to continually challenge and improve themselves while assisting other, like-minded toastermasters to develop at the same time,” said Lawson.

Toastmasters International holds meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p,m. at the United States Special Operations Command Family Resource Center (Building 143). To learn more, contact the club at