Although Toastmasters requires members to be at least 18 years old, the Downtown Coquitlam Toastmasters club in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, occasionally invites teenagers as “guests with speaking privileges.” In 2016, one of these teen guests was Grace Liang, daughter of then-club member Changmin Sun, CC. Grace, who was 14 at the time, delivered a few prepared speeches and regularly volunteered for Table Topics. The family has since moved away, but Grace recently shared some exciting news with the club.
As a 10th grade student, Grace participated in a schoolwide public speaking contest with more than 200 other students. She moved through two preliminary rounds to qualify for the finals, where she was one of four students judged while speaking in front of hundreds of students and teachers at the high school. In the finals Grace tied for first place, and her name is now permanently engraved on the school’s public speaking trophy.
Even though her experience with the Downtown Coquitlam club was brief, Grace said it made an impact. “Toastmasters definitely made me feel more comfortable about talking in front of people,” she said. “When we first heard about the contest, most of my friends [at school] were scared.
“I wasn’t scared. I was excited!”
David Reilley is a member of the Downtown Coquitlam Toastmasters club and a contributor to its newsletter.