I stand tall when I declare this. Yes, being a toastmaster is a declaration for me. I don’t know since how long have I been fancied by the concept of Toastmaster. I don’t even remember how I came to know about Toastmaster. I am surprised, I knew about this in spite of no operational club in my hometown, Vadodara, back then. Thanks to internet, we could connect the dots and now more than a year and I am a proud Toastmaster.
Toastmaster is of course learning, but for me it has been much more than just learning. Making friends from different walks of life, getting to listen to some amazing stories that the toasties share during their prepared speeches, some phenomenal speeches and ideas shared during contests, some lighter moments when we have our table topics, firefighting when a member can’t make it at the last moment, loads of encouragement and camaraderie from the fellow toasties, leg pulling and teasing, massive inspirations, watching people grow tremendous in terms of quitting stage fear and opening up…. The list goes on and on
I was an educator before I joined Toastmasters club. Speaking wasn’t a fear for me. But like they say, growth is a journey – my association with Toastmasters has helped me fine tune myself in quite a few ways. My working experience has definitely helped me but the evaluated experience at Toastmasters simply fueled the growth. Seems like an evaluator at the club suddenly gets blessed with four eyes and four ears ☺ hardly a detail that can escape the expert eyes and ears.
The number of ah’s and um’s and you know and actually… they are all counted. Number by number. Often times my filler words in 5 minute speech would be in double digits. The constant evaluation and recommendations makes you aware not to use them. Now, often times my fillers is zero.
I was once disqualified for a speech, since I went overboard with time. This has taught me to plan and deliver my speech with regards to the time frame. At times we get carried away, at times we forget, at times the speech gets a bit stretched or squeezed. You might get distracted but the timer will not. This has given me the precision which has helped me in completion of my webinars dot in time.
My body language has been quite in control. I am now more aware of the gestures, my posture maintaining eye contact with the entire audience, being in charge. And while I am keeping a mental note of all of the above, I have realized I smile more than before.
There have also been times where I have chaired the contest, enjoyed the limelight. Have been awarded with Triple Crown Award and that feels quite like a princess. Have also been lucky enough to be gifted a hand written appreciation note on a handmade and decorated certificate.
I have gathered a lot being a toastmaster. I can now dilute my two minute idea with twenty minute vocabulary. Toastmasters has given me the power of speech. In Gratitude!!