May 6, 2005

Toastmasters - One of my keen interests

This topic has been in my mind for quite some time now. Since Toastmasters has been making a profound impact in my life, it has to be written in my blog. I love talking, be it to myself or people around me. It is impossible for me to keep my mouth shut for a few minutes. Please don't call me a palaver,though!!!

I always had the fear of speaking in public. The context of the word "public" here refers to "in front of an audience" and "on top of a podium". Luckily, I had identified this fear when I was in my first year of engineering. My Physics lecturer had asked me to give a presentation on Optical Fibres. I had prepared well at home but when I stood in front of my audience, my hands trembled with fear. I could hardly grip the chalk piece. My supposedly neat handwriting looked terrible on the black board. The 20 minutes turned out to be a nightmare.

Then I decided that public speaking is an improvement area for me and I need to work hard on this aspect. From second year onwards, I volunteered for seminars in almost every subject. Slowly, the fear had changed to fun, mainly because I can observe the class and see who is actually listening and who does everything else apart from listening.

I was under the impression that my fear of speaking in public was no longer there in me when I was out of college. But I was wrong. When I started to work, I came across this club called Toastmasters in my organization. I attended a couple of sessions and found them to be kinda ok. But I made it a point to attend regularly. Once I was called to speak on a table-topic (don't remember the exact topic, though!!!). Man, I felt so nervous. My sentences were broken and my grammar was sloppy. What has happened to me? A girl who had taken so many seminars in college with full zeal and confidence was struggling for words. Instead of considering me as inapt to speak in public, I made a resolve to speak as fluently as the experienced people who attended the session. That was about two and half years back.

When I ruminate over the numerous sessions I attended in these few years, I realize how much impact they have made on my confidence and my personality. I also learnt a valuable lesson in persistence. If one strives hard with persistence and confidence, nothing can stop him/her.

These sessions have made me take initiatives and volunteer for new roles. They have also given me a platform to articulate my ideas. The affable evaluators always give a germane feedback and never carp about your speeches. The prepared speeches have tremendously helped me to glean my knowledge on various topics. Apart from ameliorating my public speaking skills, I have found many good friends from Toastmaster sessions. And I get all these by just spending an hour every week. I look forward to every Thursday and cannot afford to miss even if I have a tight schedule. The sessions which are conducted in the evenings have the ability to take away the lassitude of the long day. I also exalt about the value-add of these sessions to new joinees and convince them to attend, honing my convincing skills.

Toastmasters is a learning experience. And the experience cannot be explained in words. It has to be experienced.

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