Dale Carnegie vs. Toastmasters: Which One Is Best for You?


The Dale Carnegie Course and Toastmasters emerged over a hundred years ago. Designed to help people overcome their fears and express themselves in public, they remain ever relevant today.

The ability to speak well in public is one of the most valuable life skills. Unfortunately, this skill is not given enough attention in the modern education system.

So what are the differences between the Dale Carnegie Course and Toastmasters and which one is best for you?

Dale Carnegie vs. Toastmasters: A brief history

Dale Carnegie became famous for writing one of the best-selling books of all time: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Before this success, Carnegie had a humble beginning by offering public speaking courses at a YMCA in upper Manhattan in 1912.

Today, the timeless legacy of Dale Carnegie continues with the world-class public speaking courses.

Around the same time on the other side of America, Ralph C. Smedley, a Director of Education at a local YMCA, started a club to help members improve their speech. Toastmasters International was formed as a non-profit in 1924 and is currently headquartered in California.

an info graphic comparing the features and benefits of the Dale Carnegie course to Toastmasters
Dale Carnegie Course vs Toastmasters Infographic

The Dale Carnegie Course vs Toastmasters: 

The Dale Carnegie course makes you a more confident speaker with an 8-week intensive program. You’ll gain experience in all the fundamental building blocks of effective communication.

The advantage the Dale Carnegie course has over Toastmasters is the speed. In 8 weeks, you’ll experience the many techniques of effective speaking. The Dale Carnegie course is more intensive and led by professional instructors. 

So what kind of communication skills will you discover in an 8 week Dale Carnegie course?

  • Learn how to say your name in a confident and memorable way.
  • Learn to tell an inspiring story.
  • Tap into your emotions to better express yourself.
  • Experience the power of enthusiasm.
  • Use body gestures to release nervous energy and grab attention.
  • How to manage people with different opinions.
  • Create visual images to captivate your audience.
  • and much more…

The Dale Carnegie public speaking course provides you with a structured platform to test and experience a variety of skills in front of an audience. Through a variety of exercises, you practice the timeless principles taught by Dale Carnegie. You’ll get stronger and have more confidence in facing your fears of speaking in public.

The Dale Carnegie course values putting the principles into practice. After a quick explanation from the course instructor students stand up and practice the technique.

In addition to the famous Dale Carnegie public speaking course, Dale Carnegie Training offers a full suite of other training programs, including Leadership Training for Managers, High Impact Presentations, Sales training, as well as a vast array of online programs. 

Dale Carnegie Training Books

See how the Dale Carnegie course helped Warren Buffett. 

Toastmasters Course

Toastmasters is different from the Dale Carnegie course. First of all, Toastmasters is not really a course with a beginning and end. Toastmasters is public speaking club where members learn and practice public speaking and leadership over the long term. 

Another difference is that Toastmasters is self-paced. You don’t have an instructor guiding the class, you have members who play different roles to run the club meeting with plenty of opportunities to practice public speaking. 

In recent years especially since the pandemic, Toastmasters has offered online modules or tracks to fit the self-paced learning system. 

Toastmaster meetings are well-structured and give members a variety of opportunities to take part.

The meeting structure is consistent, but the content of each meeting is unique. Some roles are easier than others which provides a range of participation for new and experienced members.

The advantage Toastmasters has over Dale Carnegie is in providing a long-term practice and learning environment for people to develop and keep their skills reinforced through regular practice. 

Roles in a Toastmasters meeting include:

  • Chairperson: opens the meeting by reviewing the roles, introduces the Toastmaster and ends with some closing remarks.
  • Toastmaster: delivers a short speech on a topic and facilitates part of the meeting.
  • Word of the Day: choose a unique word, explains its meaning and how it’s pronounced and count how many times the word is used.
  • Table Topics: guides the group through a series of questions or scenarios designed to stimulate spontaneous on the spot thinking and improvisation.
  • Grammarian: counts how many times speakers use filler words and make grammatical errors in the speech.
  • Timer: keeps track of time on speeches and roles throughout the meeting and provides a time report at the end of the meeting that breaks down the time of each section of the meeting.
  • General Evaluator: evaluates the overall meeting and provides constructive feedback.
  • Speaker: delivers a prepared speech usually from a track or manual.
  • Evaluator: gives feedback to the speaker.

Plenty of opportunities exist for impromptu speaking at Toastmasters, but to progress through the levels you’ll need to prepare speeches from a manual or track. Prepared speeches are given constructive feedback by an evaluator.

Toastmasters offer a nearly infinite amount of material to cover and opportunity to advance up the ranks. Toastmasters is a great platform to practice and learn continuously, which makes it different from the 8-week Dale Carnegie course.

The benefit of preparation:

A key difference in practicing your public speaking with Toastmasters is the amount of preparation you can put into your prepared speeches. How much effort you put in is up to you. Preparation is a key skill in the real world. When it’s important your going to prepare for it, right? Toastmasters gives you a platform to prepare and practice. The more you prepare and practice giving speeches they better you will get.

Check out the 2018 Toastmasters World Champion winning speech by Ramona J. Smith to see what training with Toastmasters can achieve. 


The 8 week Dale Carnegie course costs around $2,000

A Toastmaster’s membership costs around $100 per year with meetings held as frequently as every week.

Which course should I choose?

Both of these programs have been around for over a hundred years. Whatever reasons you have for improving your public speaking, you can be sure that Toastmasters and Dale Carnegie have a lot to offer. So give them a try and see for yourself. Taking action is key on your path to public speaking success.

Toastmasters is more like a continuous lifelong improvement platform. In contrast, the 8-week Dale Carnegie course it’s a high-impact transformation that can help you break through your fear of speaking in public. If you’re serious about becoming an experienced speaker, you’re going to need to practice regularly. With any skill, if you don’t use it regularly, you may forget how to use it.

Expressing yourself clearly and articulately may be one of the most important life skills.  Aside from the tangible career-oriented benefits, like a job promotion, perhaps there’s a deeper yearning inside yourself looking to experience life as a more effective and persuasive communicator.