Think of the successful leaders you know. They probably have one trait in common – the ability to communicate effectively.
Kids need the Youth Leadership program so they can grow to meet the challenges of adulthood and leadership successfully. Sponsored and conducted by Toastmasters International and its local clubs, Youth Leadership helps young people build their communication and leadership skills so they may become tomorrow's leaders in business, industry and the community.
Purpose of the Program
Every young person has the potential to become a good communicator and leader, but this potential needs to be developed. The program's unique eight-session, workshop-style design enables participants to develop this potential through practical experience.
The program is not in competition with school programs or courses, or other established youth projects. Instead, it's a supplement to these programs, providing emphasis on specialized speaking and leadership skills, and individual needs. Participants learn to:
- Overcome nervousness when speaking before an audience.
- Organize and present ideas logically and convincingly.
- Listen carefully to others' ideas.
- Offer advice to help others improve their speaking and leadership skills.
- Participate in - and even lead - group discussion or meetings.
Participants increase their self-confidence as they learn. They also make new friends and have fun. Toastmasters is an enjoyable learning experience!
Each Youth Leadership program group is limited to 15 to 20 people, with a maximum of 25. That way, each person receives individual attention and has the opportunity to get practical experience. Participants for the program are selected by the sponsoring Toastmasters club or by a cooperating organization (such as their school). The program is not an award to honor those who already have become leaders. It’s designed for the much larger group who are still working on communication skills. Participants are selected for what they can become, not for what they already have done. Often teenagers want the course as a supplement to their high school education, or to prepare for college.
A local Toastmasters club serves as sponsor and provides the experienced leaders needed to present the program. These adults are patient and understanding; they remember their own struggles with youthful issues and work well with kids as a result.
The adult with overall responsibility for the program is the coordinator. He or she works closely with any cooperating organization and attends each meeting, conducting most of the training and counseling participants. The coordinator has an assistant who conducts discussions and substitutes for the coordinator, should he or she be unable to attend a meeting.
How it Works
The program is presented in eight sessions during or after school, or on weekends. Each session usually lasts one to two hours. Activities taking place in the sessions include the following:
- Evaluation of present speaking ability
- Discussion of chairmanship principles
- Presentation of speeches
- Impromptu talks
- Group evaluation
- Discussion of speech organization
- Discussion and practice in listening
- Discussion of gestures in speaking
- Discussion of voice and vocabulary
- Exercise in chairmanship
There is usually no cost to participants for tuition or materials. The materials used in the program are produced by Toastmasters International and are provided by the sponsoring Toastmasters club, which orders them from Toastmasters World Headquarters for a small fee.
Generally, meetings follow a format similar to that of a Toastmasters club meeting. There is an announced agenda and participants learn and practice parliamentary procedure during each meeting. Lecturing is minimal, but discussion is held during each session. Participants, working from a handbook, select officers who preside over the meetings. The remaining class members are assigned other duties on a rotating basis, so everyone is actively involved. Participants also deliver short impromptu and prepared speeches. In every meeting, participants learn to apply the principles of listening, thinking and speaking.
How to Start a Program
Youth Leadership may be conducted for school going kids, youth groups and many other organizations, and for young people in the community. However, all programs must be presented by a Toastmasters club, following the guidelines in the Youth Leadership Coordinator's Guide (Item 802). Clubs may order coordinator's guides and Youth Leadership Participant’s Notebooks (Item 805) from World Headquarters.