Thirty years ago this month, Toastmasters International, launched its prestigious Accredited Speaker Program.

The largest organization in the world dedicated to teaching public speaking and leadership skills, Toastmasters created the program to recognize its members who have mastered professional-level speaking skills. Since its inception, only 63 people have received the Accredited Speaker designation.

One such recipient is Jana Barnhill, of Lubbock, Texas, who says the Accredited Speaker designation “has given me the ability to speak to more audiences. And, as a result, I have expanded my business.”

Barnhill, who earned her Accredited Speaker title in 1998, says, “As a result of becoming an Accredited Speaker, I went on the path of leadership, right on to serving as Toastmasters International President in 2008-2009.” Barnhill now runs a speaking business with her husband, Robert, who also is an Accredited Speaker and former Toastmasters International President.

Below are a few speaking tips from the speakers for anyone wanting to become a more confident and competent speaker:

Listen critically and analyze other speakers. “Study successful presenters and figure out what it is that makes them successful,” says Conor Cunneen. “You will learn a great deal, in particular what not to do, when you listen and analyze many different types of speakers.”

Adapt to your environment. “The ability to adapt to different situations will help you grow as a speaker. Prepare yourself by learning about the environment in which you will be speaking. Know the audience you will be speaking to and then carefully craft your speech,” says Wayne Choate.

Sincerity is key. “Be authentic,” says Sheryl Roush. “People want to know the ‘real’ you; not a person you are trying to be.”

Always do your best. “When you are on the platform you must be the very best,” says Don Ensch. “That is why you must always be the very best you can in appearance, preparation and performance.”

Evaluate yourself. There are always three talks: the one you plan to give, the one you did give and the one you should have given,.” says Terry Mayfield.

After you give a speech, learn from it. The best way to evaluate yourself is to film your speech and review the video. Did it meet your expectations? How could you have made it better? What would you have done differently?”

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit