Why Age Is No Barrier In Toastmasters
A year ago when I attended my first Toastmasters Division conference, I was sorely tempted to lie about my age. APIIT is one of the youngest Toastmasters clubs in the country and indeed perhaps the only one attached to a university. Walking in all I could see were adults – so confident in their ways, so grown up and at 21, I had never felt more like a child. Watching the Prepared Speeches, my apprehension only deepened. How could I, at only 21 even begin to understand the amazing life experiences, the speakers shared with us? I hadn’t even begun living! At lunch and all through networking, I squirmed afraid to voice my opinions; sure someone would look at me in disdain.
That fear was very short lived. After a couple of hours I bit the bullet and began talking to people, sharing my own thoughts and my own opinions. And to my amazement – no one cut me off. Instead they listened, agreed and engaged me in a way that I never expected. They taught me things I was amazed to learn and in turn also seemed to be learning from me. And that’s when I realized – age never matters in Toastmasters.
Many students and young adults I know, often tell me their biggest issue in being a part of the Toastmasters movement is that they feel their age will result in them being considered irrelevant. This could not be further from the truth. Let me tell you why.
1. I am so glad I am a young Toastmaster it gives me many more years to gain and learn and grow with the movement. Many of the older Toastmasters will tell you they wished they had joined as young people.
2. By engaging with people from various generations I found I have learnt 2 valuable skills. One my level of maturity has increased through engaging with people older and more experienced than me. Two - I have learned how to engage with people of all ages – a skill that will serve me well in the workforce when chances are my boss will be of a different generation. Likewise when I am someone’s boss and they are of a different generation, I will remember how I was engaged with and apply this in turn
3. We youngsters have much to learn from those who have lived much more of life than us. They have experiences to share, lessons to teach and wisdom to impart.
4. We may be the future of tomorrow, but they are the decision makers of today! It never hurts to be able to call up the CEO of Company X when you are job hunting and know that he will be willing to help you!
5. On the same note, a big part of Toastmasters is that it is a global networking tool. Wherever you go you will find Toastmasters, and you are already connected to them!
To all the youngsters I say JOIN. Your age is not a barrier but an asset in Toastmasters. And regardless of ages, I have found mentors and friends within this organization who have helped me in just a year to grow incredibly as a leader and a person. After all one must know and understand their past to be successful in their future.