Using Toastmasters to Work on Speech After Aphasia Treatments

You can find Toastmasters clubs across the United States. The public speaking club helps members hone their speaking skills, getting them in front of crowds to deliver their thoughts. Many people use Toastmasters to get over performance anxiety. But a Minnesota newspaper recently covered a story about a man who used Toastmasters to help him gain speaking confidence after aphasia.

Toastmaster Meetings

An aneurysm removed Joe Oppold’s ability to speak. Intensive speech therapy brought it back, but he still wasn’t feeling confident with his public speaking skills. He joined Toastmasters in order to practice speaking in front of a supportive group.

At meetings, participants deliver short speeches in front of the other members. Not only does this give them performance experience, helping them get comfortable to speaking in front of a small crowd, but the feedback is invaluable. Other members have the chance to tell you how they processed your speech. You learn by doing and get supportive suggestions to help smooth out rough areas of your speaking skills.

It’s a space for people far along their aphasia journey looking for continued improvements after speech therapy ends.

Toastmasters and Aphasia

Oppold isn’t the only person with aphasia using Toastmasters to help smooth out their speaking skills. The University of British Columbia holds a program once or twice each semester where they bring a Toastmaster to their group to give tips. The Toastmaster doesn’t just give tips for getting out words. They make recommendations by looking at all facets of speaking — from intonation to body language.

Boston University has an aphasia group modeled after the Toastmaster format:

This group will focus on communicating fluently and concisely when you are speaking in stressful situations such as when you meet new people, are speaking to a large group, or are using the telephone. This group is modeled after the Toastmasters Club, whose philosophy is to learn by doing in a supportive environment.

And there has even been research into using the structure of Toastmasters to treat aphasia.

Do you have any experience with a Toastmasters club?

Image: Tim Napier via Unsplash



  • Janie
    November 8, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I’m a speech therapist and a member of Toastmasters outside of the US. I know several of my clients with aphasia and apraxia of speech attend Toastmasters. It’s a pleasure watching them get up and speak in front of members. They speak in both meeting roles and speaking roles. What I love the most is that some have even taken on the executive roles too. The members are very supportive. They have learned how hard it can be to communicate and have learned strategies to try to help out when necessary.


  • Mary
    February 14, 2019 at 9:21 am

    What a wonderful idea! I was a member of a local Toastmasters club for several years, mainly to develop better speaking skills for my job at the time. It never occurred to me until now how much that could help anyone dealing with aphasia. Thank you for enlightening me on this worthwhile organization.

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