Posted by Linda Kramer
Toastmasters, Rotary have lots in common

Founded in 1924, Toastmasters International has a lot in common with Rotary International, said Alicia Smith-Kirk, the newly elected director of Toastmasters District 10, which encompasses northeast Ohio. In many ways, she is the equivalent of the District 6630 governor.

Smith-Kirk told Berea Rotarians on Aug. 4 via Zoom that, like Rotary, Toastmasters is global with similar objectives. It is diverse and inclusive with the education component a priority. “Leadership in the community is dominant,” she said.

The main focus of Toastmasters is public speaking and making members comfortable with composing and delivering a variety of talks. Speeches are evaluated. “We have um and er counters,” Smith-Kirk said.

Rotary and Toastmasters announced last year a new collaboration with Toastmasters adding to the Rotary leadership training partnership. The two groups have put together a series of eight courses to improve public speaking and leadership skills. The courses can be found on the RI web site.

Smith-Kirk, who used to be a dancer at the Cotton Club in Harlem, said she became involved in Toastmasters in 2012. “I love words. I love listening to people speak. I wanted to get better, to get my message across,” she said. “I stayed in the club because of the leadership opportunities. You can grow and learn.”

Smith -Kirk, who lives in Berea, is a member of Westlake Toastmasters. It meets 12:15-1:15 p.m. on Wednesdays – now via Zoom. The district is in the process of forming a Berea Toastmasters Club.

Smith-Kirk invited Rotarians to visit a Toastmasters meeting and Marc West invited her to speak to Rotaractors at BW. Young people tend to speak very rapidly and older folks often have a hard time understanding what they are saying. Smith-Kirk said that may be because of social media. “They are used to posting and learning quickly,” she said. For teens and young adults, verbal communication is not a priority.

For more information, visit, or contact Smith-Kirk at or 216-219-9619.

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