It was the month of April 2016. I was searching for a place to learn public speaking skills. For some months, I was in search of a book or place where this was taught. I had been scouring bookshops and though I did get a few good books, I could not improve much on this ability.
While searching on the internet, I came across Mulund Toastmasters Club. I hesitantly visited the club and tried to understand what Toastmasters is all about. As the meeting progressed, I felt happy clapping away as each speaker completed his speech. When I was called onto the stage for Table Topics, I fumbled while gathering my thoughts but somehow I could enjoy the limelight. Then, I took the decision of becoming a Toastmaster!
Now two years into Toastmasters, I have become an Excom member, participated in club contests, been a buddy for different Excom roles, and have been a Contest Judge too. So what has changed in me?
My fluency while speaking in front of an audience has improved dramatically. In the past, I was not able to speak with my overseas customers on the phone and in the office. I used to be at a loss for words and could not recollect any subject to talk about. But after becoming a Toastmaster, I can eloquently talk with my customers and speak about any subject under the sun. By regularly contributing articles to our club magazine, ‘Synergy’, my ability to draft letters has improved. This was also noted by my company Director on numerous occasions, much to my delight. My Director is very miserly about praise, and to hear such words from him pushed my confidence sky high!
Things have changed for the better.
In August 2017, I was appointed as a teacher to help children learn Anapana meditation, the initial part of Vipassana meditation.
The confidence that I got from Toastmasters helped me address the children easily. Children are tougher to handle than adults and are very observant of any mistakes made by teachers. But while sitting on the seat of the conducting teacher, I did not feel nervous or hesitant while giving instructions to them. The various tips of Evaluators at Toastmasters meetings came in handy. Eye contact and gestures came easily to me and at the right time. Now, when I conduct the course, it feels as if I am giving a Toastmasters speech to the audience with appropriate vocal modulations, hand gestures and pauses too!
Toastmasters has also inculcated the reading habit in me. I have subscribed to Reader’s Digest after many years! This gave me fond memories of the stories that I used to read many years back in this magazine.
The turning point for me was when my Director appointed me as Export Manager in the company in September 2017!
Toastmasters has changed my life. Earlier, speaking to anyone for even two minutes was an uphill task but with the confidence that I acquired here, I am absolutely comfortable with anyone now. Overall, being a Toastmaster has not only made me an eloquent speaker but has also made me financially stronger.
This article was first published on the August issue of District 98’s bi-monthly newsletter ‘Communicate 98’. To read other articles, click here.