By Samanvitha Basole
Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is a workshop for students under the age of 18 designed to teach public speaking and leadership skills. When I was in high school, I attended this program and absolutely loved it. Now that I have been part of a Toastmaster club, I decided to host a YLP. I wanted to give back to my community, especially during these times when students’ activities have been reduced due to the stay-at-home order.
The workshop consisted of 14 students and the classes were held on Saturdays 6pm-8pm starting from September 12, 2020 to November 14, 2020. Since this was all online, I planned to host and coordinate this myself. But I invited a Toastmaster guest to each meeting so that they could share their public speaking experience and provide some tips.
I realized that I don’t have to be a perfect presenter or a public speaking champion to start giving back or to host this workshop. Students were from all levels of public speaking. I told them that their journeys are unique and not to compare themselves to others. Likewise, I decided not to set the expectation of becoming a perfect public speaker myself; I just focused on making progress and giving back while I’m on this journey.
Initially, I had to clearly explain the duties and answer their questions, but once I had the procedure set and had an agenda template ready, students did an excellent job of fulfilling their assigned roles. After I had everything set for the workshop, my duties were mostly planning the meeting or creating an agenda and just being there to answer their questions.
After 8 sessions, I conducted a competition for table topics and prepared speeches. The students had progressed so much in these few weeks that it was a hard decision to choose the winners. I was glad I had invited experienced Toastmasters who have never been to my YLP sessions to be the judges.
Organizing a YLP is not very hard or time-consuming, especially now that there is no driving back and forth. If you’re thinking of starting a YLP, I would highly encourage you to go for it. It was amazing to see the progress of young students, and I was truly motivated by it.