India is known to be a diverse country with diverse opportunities. This vast variety of opportunities is partly the result of the eager nature of its population, that is welcome to learning and adapting to better environments. When an organisation that holds quality and integrity to high value like the Toastmasters came into being , it was not a surprise that the Toastmasters following caught on slowly but steadily in the first few years. The growth has been more rapid in the years that came.
Today with about 50 cities hosting the club, you can walk into a Toastmaster meeting in every major Indian city. The number of clubs is growing by the day with more than 320 clubs chartered - some decades old and some a few months old. All moving towards the same larger goal. Communicating effectively has always been a need, but never a priority as it is today. Having the ability to address a gathering of as small as 5 people or 5000 people is a skill. This is where Toastmasters plays a crucial role for any one from any path in their walks of life.
Toastmaster clubs in India are majorly formed as community clubs, corporate clubs and clubs in colleges. Each segment of the society has taken Toastmasters as their need and built it up with the support of each member. Each member will vouch that what Toastmasters has given them is more than what they have given to the club. The gain from a Toastmasters club and community is immense. While there are no ways to express each of the ways Toastmasters has benefited a member, there are a few that stand out the most.
Being a public speaking forum, there is no debate on the communication skills developed by the members through the course of their involvement with the program. A key developmental aspect the members share as a key benefit is, the upskilling opportunity through the deliberately designed leadership roles available. Every single member has the opportunity to lead. This is a unique model that ensures that a person from any background – be it white collar, executive, student, blue collar, unemployed or retired personnel gets to lead a group as small as 20 to as large as thousands. The only criteria that will be expected is to have commitment to the position one is entitled to, and there is no doubt that there is an army of helpful members willing to support your work. An atmosphere conducive to growth, development and service that is unparalleled in any sector, industry or job. Toastmasters in India has given its members a wide network of people who are willing to learn and progress every day and are willing to support you in any of your endeavor. This is a massive achievement for any organisation to achieve.
Apart from the development of the club and its members, Toastmasters in India has been instrumental in paying back to the society through various events. The Division E, F and H has begun a large movement to reach younger audiences by developing and meticulously executing the Master Orator Championship for the last 2 years. This is an event like no other, with a registration going off the roof with more than 2100 college students applying to the contest and battling it out while they developed themselves during the course of the Championship.
Youth Leadership Programs conducted by the Toastmasters in India has catered to various government, zilla parishad and non-profit run schools that help school going students from marginalized communities to experience a high quality public speaking program with its 8-week programs that has lighted a spark in the students towards oration and boosted their confidence to a level that can usually be materialized only in years' time.
The reputation of Toastmaster clubs has been so immense in India that corporate companies including IBM, Infosys, Bank of America, HSBC pro-actively set up clubs for their organizations in order to develop their employees. Here, we have witnessed an achievement that not many districts can boast about - the corporates are immensely supportive and provide their top of the line infrastructure for Toastmaster meetings and Area or Division level events for a nominal cost that is nearly as good as being issued gratis.
Toastmasters has been a game changer for not just a handful of members, but thousands of people, and in India, we have witnessed these changes in personal and professional lives of our members. Be it tackling a shy nature to being a confident orator, being able to get your sales pitch right, being chosen every year to host your company's Annual Dinner, building the courage to drop your day job to become a full time successful stand-up comic, or helping you to be more empathetic and constructive, Toastmasters has played an invaluable role in the lives of India's dedicated Toastmasters. Building one leader at a time.