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Accredited Speakers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We get all sorts of questions about this professional designation as we visit Districts around the globe, as well from our respective clients.
We decided to collect those questions and formulate appropriate answers here in an effort to assist you in learning more about who we are and what we do. We trust these questions will offer valuable information to our fellow Toastmasters who are thinking professionally about this program. Check back as we'll add more questions and our answers as they occur.
3 reasons to hire an Accredited Speaker for your next conference, association meeting, corporate training session, or retreat: 1) Proven Track Record & Performance; 2) subject matter expertise; and 3) Professionalism and client service.
Excerpt from the AS rules (2013): "The Accredited Speaker Program recognizes those Toastmasters members who have achieved a level of proficiency that enables them to be paid, professional speakers. Being an Accredited Speaker gives you a competitive edge and sets you apart from other professional speakers. That’s because your talent and ability have been recognized by Toastmasters International, a world leader in communication and leadership development.
Unlike other professional certifications, you can’t simply complete a list of tasks to become a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker; instead, you must demonstrate your speaking abilities before a live audience. Program candidates progress through two levels of evaluation and are judged by a panel of professional speakers. It is a rigorous, yet worthwhile process. Since the program’s inception in 1981, less than 20 percent of all applicants have become members of this exclusive group."
Visit our Hire an Accredited Speaker page to see which AS are actively looking for professional speaking opportunities.
Bob Hooey, AS: In my case, I had joined Toastmasters as a way to enhance and hone my presentation skills in preparation for moving into speaking. I heard about the AS program when I attained my Able Toastmasters and got the one sheet about the program entitled "Are you good enough to be a pro?" I kept that flyer on my office wall (and wrote on it, "Not yet, but I will be!" for two years before actively pursuing it.
Bob Hooey, AS: The program itself is fairly straight forward. The work required to qualify to apply then (and more so since April 2013) is where the challenge lies. You need to be out there speaking to non-Toastmasters audiences, and you need to be getting paid to do so. That is not quite as easy as everyone would think. It is doable, but it requires discipline and dedication. As someone once said, "It's simple, but not easy!"
Bob Hooey, AS: Absolutely! The end result was even more rewarding that I had envisioned. But more importantly, the journey changed me and helped prepare me to be a better presenter, a more focused business person, and to better serve my professional paid clients.
Bob Hooey, AS: In my case I enlisted the help of quite a few people over a few years. Originally 7 of us (in Vancouver, BC) created a success team in preparation for applying for the program. We met on a regular basis and challenged and evaluated each other as we crafted our presentations. Of the 5 Toastmasters around the world who were passed in the level one judging that year (1995), 3 of them were from our success team. Two of us attained our Accreditation in subsequent years (Marg Hope, AS in 1995 and myself in 1998). Along the way I also enlisted the help of people like Accredited Speaker, Sheryl Roush who was very helpful. As well, I enlisted the help of many of my NSA, and later, CAPS professional speaking colleagues. I also tapped into the creative brain of World Champion, David Brooks as well as hundreds of fellow Toastmasters and clients. I spoke at every TM club and client event I could to hone my experience and increase my confidence in front of an audience.
Visit our Mentorship page to see a few of our Accredited Speakers who are willing to offer advice and guidence and in some cases actually mentor you.
Bob Hooey, AS: Working toward my Accredited Speaker designation was the focus point of my becoming a professional speaker. At that time the program was not structured or openly focused on being as professional as it is now. Now, you pretty much need to be a professional before you apply. I was one of the few who applied who had not yet charged for my services. Following my selection to move on the the 2nd level judging at an upcoming International Convention, I decided I should start charging, and thus launched my professional speaking journey.
Bob Hooey, AS: There have been a few Accredited Speakers since the program was launched in 1981 who saw it as another TI program. As it has evolved it has become more focused on attracting Toastmasters who are pursing speaking as a profession. So, my answer would be: only if you are very serious about pursuing a professional speaking journey and are willing to invest the time and resources to make that a reality. The new rules effectively outline your need to be actively speaking and being paid for that speaking. You are now required to have 15 of the 25 qualifying presentations you list be ones where you have been paid. Your references (5 of them) are now to those clients who have hired you. One of the questions asked is, "Would you hire this speaker again?" Yes/No. If no, please explain why?
Bob Hooey, AS: I was one of the 1st level judges again this last year. Sadly, none of those who applied passed. I've talked with some of my fellow Accredited Speakers who also judged, and did not choose to pass anyone. One of the common reasons was the quality of the recordings were less than desired. Frankly, if the recording is not a good one it hurts your credibility and as judges we factored that into our choices. We also look at areas such as the structure, flow, and audience interaction and response. We are looking for a professional level presentation, as would be expected from a paid performance. With the changes in the program I would expect that this might be improved. Also, you now have to submit a video recording for your 1st level judging so making sure it is of professional level is even more important.
The newly revamped Accredited Speakers program outlines in straight forward detail what they are looking for in this this program. Now, you have the pathway and the requirements laid out for you. This is a professional level designation for Toastmasters seriously engaged in professional speaking. You need to have a minimum of 15 paid engagements to apply with 5 client recommendations. A video recording is now required as a part of your 1st level judging process. This is aimed at enhancing the professionalism of those who apply and more importantly those who achieve this designation.
Check out the Accredited Speaker Program and read through all of the online materials created by Toastmasters International.
Make sure you submit a professional quality video that captures you at your best and gives the 1st level judges a solid look of your professionalism and abilities in front of an audience.
Bob Hooey, AS: In my case this is part of my give back to my Toastmasters family. TI is where I got my start and where I honed my skills. Schedule permitting, I continue to do what I can to assist my fellow TI leaders in providing quality programs for their Districts. As a Toastmaster we do charge a fee for our presentations at TI events. However, it is reasonable to expect that our expenses would be covered when we invest a weekend (or more) to travel to speak. Those expenses would be: Travel, accommodation, conference registration, and meals.
See our District Visits page for more information and to see who is willing to speak for your District events.
Bob Hooey, AS: Michelangelo once said, "And yet, I am still learning!" That makes so much sense for me. I've been an active Toastmaster now (2013) for over 22 years. I continue to learn and to hone my skills as I remain active in Toastmasters. I also enjoy the opportunity to share my expertise and encouragement to fellow Toastmasters who are at various points in their journey. I love seeing people get excited about what they can do as they enhance their own speaking skills. I love seeing them increase both their confidence and their competence along the way. I expect I will be a Toastmaster for a very long time.
Hal Slater, AS: My response is to suggest they speak on a topic they are sure the evaluators/judges will find interesting... Public Speaking. We know this because they are all Toastmasters and joined because they are interested in that topic. This requires finding either an original insight into how to speak better or a better way to convey the message than the same old material they get from others. Alternatively, Leadership, Mentoring, Evaluating or any of the skills used in a club will keep their attention which assures a higher score than a dull subject.
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