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This Article by Tamara Smiley Hamilton is an Excerpted from Speaker Magazine – National Speakers Association (Banner Graphic Credit: NSA Speaker Magazine)

When six of seven global finalists advance to the coveted circle of Accredited Speaker and your name is not called, you are grateful for a dimly lit ballroom.

These were the words I wrote in my journal the night I did not receive the designation as an Accredited Speaker (AS) from Toastmasters International. The feeling was unfamiliar, because most things I want in life and truly prepare for, I achieve. For this endeavor, I was not prepared emotionally, nor was I at the depth of my craft. I underestimated the magnitude of what I was pursuing.

Perhaps I am not alone in misjudging the rigor of becoming an Accredited Speaker. What I do know is that I grew exponentially as a speaker because of the journey. And the journey continues.

Some people think Toastmasters is only for the beginning speaker. For many, including some very accomplished NSA members, it is a road worth traveling. Come along and see for yourself.


Toastmasters International is the world’s leading leadership development and communications organization, with 350,000 members in 142 countries. NSA founder Cavett Robert, CSP, CPAE, was a Toastmaster and was crowned the 1942 World Champion of Public Speaking.

Many NSA members are accomplished Toastmasters. The ideas in this article come from five who have achieved one or both of the highest designations or awards a Toastmaster can achieve: Accredited Speaker and World Champion of Public Speaking.

  • Darren LaCroix, CSP, won the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking and earned Accredited Speaker in 2016. He is the first NSA member to hold the CSP and the AS designations along with the World Championship of Public Speaking.
  • Rochelle Rice, MA, CSP, NSA board member, is the only woman in the world to hold both the CSP and the AS designations.
  • Sheryl Roush earned Accredited Speaker in 1993 and is a global ambassador for Toastmasters.
  • Ed Tate, CSP, is the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking.
  • Peter Barron Stark, CSP, earned the Accredited Speaker in 1990.

All are devoted NSA members, and all know a secret: Toastmasters is not a club solely for rookies. It’s a powerhouse for practice. “There is enormous opportunity from participating in both organizations,” says Rice, who says the AS designation has played a huge role in building her business.

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