Public Speaking Tips: Toastmasters Young and Old

Speaker's view of an audience.

Well, not quite.  If the audience is this hazy, he or she is probably too drunk to go on...
Well, not quite. If the audience is this hazy, he or she is probably too drunk to go on...

As an older member – I’m seventy-four – I’m wondering what Toastmasters is doing to encourage mature-age people in the community to join our wonderful organization. It seems that a disproportionally low number over the age of, say, fifty, sign up. With roughly one in six adults falling into the “retiree” category, there should be ample opportunity for recruiting many, many, older members. So why aren’t we doing it?

A mature age speaker - yours truly, Tusitala Tom.

Speaking - yes, I love it...
Speaking - yes, I love it...

Everything seems to be geared to young people.

Problem is -or it seems- that just about everything in our organization is geared to young people. The emphasis is practically always on better communications and leadership skills to “assist people in their chosen careers.” Most people over fifty-five aren’t seeking career goals. Ambition no longer burns anywhere near as brightly. Yet, in Australia, for example, which I expect would have many parallels in the U.S.A., countless thousands of retirees join organizations such as National Seniors and Probus South Pacific. The latter runs to about 3,000 clubs, and has a membership of around 220,000 people in Australia and New Zealand alone. The growth rate has shot up like a Cape Canaveral moon rocket, doubling every few years. Someone puts an advertisement in a newspaper stating that a local club is being formed, and Probus has a hundred potential members before they’ve even found a big enough venue.

Public Speaker doing his stuff.

This is something every successful speaker can identify with: an attentive audience, full venue and that feeling of accomplishment.
This is something every successful speaker can identify with: an attentive audience, full venue and that feeling of accomplishment.

Toastmasters - there are countless millions of retirees out there!

There are countless millions of retirees out there! Nearly all of them are seeking involvement in something ongoing, worthwhile and enjoyable. Toastmasters fits into that category. Why are we missing out on this huge market? Surely we can do something about it?

Learn Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.

You might say, “Not many older people want to learn public speaking and presentation skills.” And you could be right. But they do want to be entertained, educated and enthused. And they do want involvement. A good Toastmasters Club can do that- and do it well. In my own club, we’ve always had a goodly portion of our members in what you’d call, the “mature age” bracket. Maybe that’s why our club has won President’s Distinguished every year since its formation. But whether it is that or not, I do know this: mature age Toastmasters add real depth to a club. These people know about life. They have a great deal to offer

I think he's kidding. But there are people this nervous.

Can't see the audience for the microphones...
Can't see the audience for the microphones...

The enthusiasm of youth, the wisdom of maturity, both are needed in the sucessful club.

This might well mean that Toastmasters, overall, need look at what it can offer this large segment of our society. It’s great to have young, dynamic, ambitious people within our ranks. But it’s equally desirable, in my opinion, to have the stability, maturity and wisdom of those who have moved through that period and can now see life from a different perspective.

So check. Find out. There might be quite a lot of mature-age people who would like to learn public speaking and presentation skills.

Tom Ware ATM-G ALB

Dundas Club 70/2692

Australia.

1 comment

simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago

I can greatly recommend joining a Toastmasters club to improve your speaking skills. Each meeting consists of various items that improve different types of speaking skills, such as preparing a speech or thinking on your feet (speaking without preparation).

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