Viewpoint: When I'm 64

Viewpoint: When I'm 64

A message from our International President

I was once asked, “How can we attract younger members into our clubs?” I replied, “You should visit my home club. The average age of members is 25. And if I weren’t there, it would go down to 23!”

Seriously, the answer lies in what our clubs can offer anyone, young or old, who walks in the door. Remember what we tell new members: “We are a group of people brought together to do things we could not do alone.” And therein lies the Simply Amazing power of the Toastmasters club! Members learning together and helping each other, members offering support to other members, and members having fun in each other’s company. This is the selling point for bringing in younger members to our clubs.

Recently, Past District 75 Governor Joseph Baduel celebrated his 64th birthday. He joined Toastmasters as a young man more than 30 years ago. He found support from his fellow club members as he developed his skills. As years passed, his club offered him a place to relax and ease the tensions from a high-pressure occupation. He says that at 64, he couldn’t be happier, and he credits his fellow Toastmasters with helping him keep a youthful spirit.

How do we attract younger members into our clubs? By offering them the opportunity to be with their peers – people their own age who share their views of the world. People whose company they will enjoy so much, they will still be together when they’re 64.

Years ago, I delivered 30-minute advanced speeches in my home club. I wonder how those same speeches would be received in my club today. Would anyone even be awake after 10 minutes? The younger they are, the faster they want things to happen. My daughter-in-law said it best for her generation, “If it’s more than three minutes, might as well sing it.” So let’s paraphrase the old Beatles song. Joining Toastmasters, We ask fellow members: 

        “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now, 
        Will you still be listening to my speeches, evaluations, even my jokes? 
        If I’d been absent from our meeting, would you ask me why? 
        Will you still need me, will you still aid me, 
        When I’m sixty-four?”

To which the club’s members must surely answer: 

        “We’ll be older, too. And if you say the word, we will stay with you. 
        We could still help you, checking your speech, like we always do 
        You can laugh with old friends on the side, Table Topics, or tell your joke 
        Deliver your speech, share your tales, this time you’ll have more 
        We will still need you, we will still aid you, when you’re sixty four.”

Of course, for those of you approaching or over the age of 64, you can always change the words to “When I’m ninety four.”

Johnny Uy, DTM
International President