The real cost of Toastmasters

Last year I became a charter member of our county’s Toastmasters Club.  Toastmasters is the international organization for public speaking and leadership.

I wrote about how Toastmasters is the biggest public speaking training bargain on the planet.  Financially, it is a huge bargain.  The international dues are $6 per month: one cheese pizza.  Our club adds another $1/month for club expenses: one pepperoni pizza.

The system has been fine-tuned so much over the years, and runs so efficiently, that the financial barriers are almost non-existent.

But if it’s such a good deal, why are people leaving?

I’m an officer in our club.  About a month ago we had a long-ish officers’ meeting about why the numbers in the club were dwindling.  I don’t think any of us thought for very long that it was because the club dues were too high!

We batted around a bunch of possible reasons — weather cancellations of the meeting, key people leaving the club and not finding a replacement promptly, meeting night, and others.

But I think one of the big reasons is that the members got into more than they bargained for.

The real cost of Toastmasters was too expensive.  It cost them too much time.  And because there was only a small financial investment, the financial barrier to leave was just as low going as it was coming.

Things of high worth don’t come cheap

Toastmasters’ monetary dues are low, but the time dues are high.  It takes time to prepare speeches, and to prepare for meetings.  It takes time to learn how to evaluate people, and to organize meetings and events.  It takes time to learn how to be an officer.  It takes time to prepare effectively for a competition.

It takes enough time that in order to be even moderately successful, other activities need to go to the back burner.  It’s the sacrifice of time and other activities that is what forces people to “Toastmasters do yes” or “Toastmasters do no.”  It doesn’t seem to work out well if you “Toastmasters do guess so.”  You get squished like grape.

That’s true of anything worthwhile, though.  Things worthwhile take time, and sacrifice.  Those two aspects cost far more than the pocket change it costs to sign up.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. says

    I think for this reason only I left toastmasters. It was too much time consuming ans especially since meetings were scheduled during work hours, I wasn’t able to dedicate my time towards toastmasters and could complete only 4 speeches in 7 months.

    • John Wedding says

      The whole system is designed to keep members and officers involved and constantly learning, and I guess it is true that you get out of it what you put in. But at some point it becomes an issue of what you’re doing with it: following your own calling, or following Toastmasters’ calling?

      Not everyone wants to become a DTM, or become a district governor, or win a high-level speech competition. And that’s … all right!

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