Toastmasters International (TI) is a well-known worldwide association focused on communication skills and leadership development. TI clubs are designed to build confidence in public speaking. Despite the benefits that members gain from joining Toastmasters clubs, the organization is concerned with the factors that affect members' retention in TI. This mixed-methods study of TI clubs in Southern California included member surveys completed at club meetings, interviews with club leaders, and the researcher's extensive field notes. A stratified purposeful sampling method was used to ensure that the sample size included each club category and quota of the target population of TI club members and leaders. One hundred twelve members completed the members' survey, representing a 56% response rate of the paid members in the clubs surveyed. Twelve club leaders participated in long semi-structured interviews. The findings revealed that members join TI for self-improvement and development in speaking: the purpose of the TI curriculum. The surveys revealed that 45% of the members join TI to improve communication skills and advance their career. Fifty-six percent indicated that constant participation and attendance at TI meetings helped them to overcome their fear of public speaking. Fifty-seven percent of the members stated that they continue their membership with TI to alleviate their fear of public speaking, improve their communication, and participate in speech contests. The survey indicated that 64% of the members enjoyed activities that allowed them to speak during the club meetings. Thirty-nine percent of the members surveyed were able to achieve their competent communicator (CC) and competent leader (CL) awards. Another 39% of the members were also in progress of completing these awards. The convenience and location of the club was important for members in terms of their attendance. Members attended meetings when there were enough parking spaces, the club was centrally located and accessible to public transportation, and the club was comfortable as well as conducive for club meetings. It is recommended that TI develop facilities requirements to meet the needs of members and encourage them to remain in the club.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Toastmasters International; Associations, institutions, etc. -- Membership; Organizational effectiveness

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;