When we (District 110 Trio) were doing the interviews with International Director candidates at the International Convention in Denver this August, one of our questions to the candidates was: “What are your plans to attract more millenials to Toastmasters?”
Not a problem Wild East of Europe (most Toastmasters in our District are millenials), but in North America, the Toastmasters population is largely 50+ and struggling with membership growth.
Most of the candidates answered along the following lines: “Explain them the benefits.” or “Create a better user interface for Pathways.” or “Make the meetings more exciting.”
All these things could help; but they’re not the decisive factor.
When I came as a guest to a Toastmasters meeting, the benefits were clear to me. I wanted to get better at presenting. There was no user interface – they showed me paper manuals. And the prospect of having to speak in front of 30 people was exciting enough.
The main reason why I came to the next meeting though was simply because there were people like me. With the slight difference, that they were way better at speaking. I aspired to be as good as them.
From the interviews, the answer of the (later successful) candidate for the 2nd Vice President Matt Kinsey was closest to my experience. He said: “Millenials will join a club when they see other millenials in the room.”
While you may have enough millenials in your club, maybe there are other groups that you want to specifically target. Maybe more accomplished business professionals. Maybe more good speakers. Maybe more people who are willing to participate in running the club.
It helps when you think about the benefits: But it’s the examples and role models that will seal the deal.
If you have them: Show them.
If not: Borrow them.
Don’t underestimate them.
[insert your desired group of people] will join a club if they see other people like themselves in the room.
Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash