It was about two years back that I first heard about Toastmasters.. I had just joined CA and was looking forward to participate in the Tata Crucible Corporate Quiz, The HR redirected me to Sundar, the only active quizzer she knew in CA. Sundar and I met in the cafeteria to discuss some “strategies” for preparation. I told him that I like quizzing and would love to start a quiz club at CA. But my problem with public speaking makes sure that I never take such initiatives. It was then that he mentioned Toastmasters and how it can be useful in overcoming stage fright. The quiz came and went and we never got a chance to go to a quiz together, but the idea of Toastmasters that Sundar mentioned was left in some corner of mind.
Some months later I joined Adobe, Noida. It took another quiz as a quizmaster to remind me of the Toastmasters. I was planning to host a quiz on Jan 26, 2007. Before taking the idea further, I started analyzing whether I’ll be able to do a decent job. At that time, I was again reminded of TM.. I wrote to Toastmasters International and also contacted HR department with this idea and initial support of 8 people interested.
I got a positive nod from HR and after a demo-meeting on April 10, 2007; we were in a position to charter for a Toastmasters Club at Adobe. Again I was apprehensive about the impression that I’ll be leaving as the organizer on the prospective members of this special interest group on public speaking, when I myself am not that good on this front. But I believe I did a fairly tolerable job at that because just after the demo-meeting, I got mails from a number of people indicating their interest in the club.
We got chartered on May 21, 2007. And it has been an amazing journey so far. In the words of a fellow toastmaster, Toastmasters Club is platform for falling, practicing and growing. There’s no failure, only feedbacks. Nobody here criticizes you for what you didn’t do correctly. Initially you’re applauded just for you effort. In your first prepared speech project, nobody expects you to display voice-modulation, good body-language or great eye-contact. The expectations are very simple: just start speaking before an audience.
At each of your performance, you are commended for all the good things that you did, then those things are pointed out which you could have done better. Please note that this is different from pointing out things that you didn’t do correctly. Essentially covers the same things, but the slight change in approach marks the Toastmaster difference. The difference that helps you grow gradually and then it’s time that you are applauded for your performance, not just for the effort.
The results of this conducive environment are already visible in the meetings of our club. We have had 18 meetings so far and have grown from initial 27 to 42 now. Members who initially struggled with even elementary roles like that of a Timer and a word-master have grown into confident speakers. Some members, who were already good speakers, have improved and become tremendous speakers, even for the table topics session, in which each participant is required to speak on a topic on his feet. I can even find the change in myself and I do believe that I am surely much, much better speaker as compared to what I was 4-5 months back. Off-course there’s always scope of improvement and I know I’ve miles to cover before I can call myself a good communicator and leader. But I’m sure that Toastmasters will see me through that journey.
We surely could not have grown so well without the regular support of our mentors Deepak Menon and Dr. Ritu Arora. They have been instrumental in everything that has happened with Adobe Toastmasters: the demo-meeting, the chartering of the club, the growth of the club, the improvements in the members and everything else that club has achieved. Thanks Deepak, Thanks Ritu!! I’m sure very soon, we’re going to attain another achievement under you:: the status of a Select Distinguished Club in the Toastmasters hierarchy.
If the above post, inspires you to know more about Toastmasters program, feel free to drop me a mail or leave a comment here.