Tonight, a guest suggested we were TOO formal - too structured for such a small group. We had 7 attendees (strong for this rebuilding club), and the guest was in her early to mid-twenties. As she made this statements, I mentally cringed, and wanted to rush to Toastmasters defense. I controlled myself, of course. I wouldn't want to speak out of turn, right?
So did she have a point? Are Toastmasters meetings too structured, too rigid in their rules? Tonight's meeting, frankly, was pretty laid back. She may have gone running for the exits at some of the more formal clubs in the area. Has the world changed so much that the Toastmaster way is antiquated?
I hope not. Today I'm officially 20 years removed from my early 20's. I have no idea what is relevant to the young generation. I see manners, common courtesy, and respect flying out the window as Facebook, Twitter, and Smart Phones take over the world. But even as I type that, I begin to feel like an old fogey. These kids and their shiny new thingamajigs - the world's going to fall into anarchy, right?
Maybe we do clap too much. Maybe we are overly-concerned with keeping the lectern attended. Maybe the days of shaking hands are over. But I'd rather be part of an organization that is willing to keep the traditional rules of meeting decorum alive than one that teaches nothing but 'do whatever, anything goes'. Not because I'm an inflexible old fogey, but because I believe rules are made to be broken.
And if you don't know what the rules are, you can't break them effectively.