To start with, Toastmasters, for me, was a stress buster. The weekly meeting of Kathmandu Toastmasters shifted from Monday to Tuesday and then to Friday and once again finally to Monday. My six years with the club was an amazing experience. Later in the year 2018, I realized the advantages of a local Toastmasters Club and hence brought it to the community of Baneshwor, and the rest is history. Today a Toastmasters club is opening is every community across Nepal.
I was away from Nepal for almost a decade for my higher studies. That left me with a handful of friends. My cousin, Ananda Koirala, who was in and out of Toastmasters, invited me to a Toastmasters meeting. I thoroughly enjoyed the session. I even took part in the Table Topic Session, which fortunately I won, and as most of us try to take the gavel home, I too tried that. After a few months, I joined Toastmasters in September 2012. It was stress busting moments when I got to hear beautiful speeches from speech crafters and featured speakers along with critical evaluations. Empathetic view was something that I always looked up to. For a new toastmaster, the entire Toastmaster meeting experience is simply a whole new experience. At the end of the meeting, when the General Evaluator comes, you feel, “oh wow, there is still so much left even when the show is over.”
To start with, I was encouraged to give speeches. I gave a couple of speeches, took indirect roles, and then again gave around 2-3 speeches and in between took the roles of table topic master and the Toastmaster of the Evening. The coordination was never easy. First and foremost, you don’t have enough contacts of the member who would take the role. Slowly opening up to members to fulfill the responsibility was something that I’ve learned and carried it to this date. Coming of age, I started evaluating, and this was one thing that I feared. You never know how receptive your speaker is and how would he or she take your evaluation. One single word misspoken at the heat of the moment in front of an audience, and you have hindered the speaker to learn something through your evaluation.
Later in my Toastmasters journey, I learned how you could use soft words and still give out the meaning of improvement- a completely new experience that I was profoundly falling for.
Back home, amongst family members, friends, relatives, you are known moreover for your involvement in Toastmasters. This probably could be because we Toastmasters post a lot of pics in social media. Then you try to explain what Toastmasters is, and one typical response you get is Oh… now I get it, its an English Speaking Club. And you again try to go back to explaining: No No, it’s a club that will help you in improving your communication and leadership skills. Well, all in all, an enjoyable experience. Today when I look back, it reminds me of how naïve I was trying to explain friends with so little about Toastmasters.
Later in 2017, when I wanted to come up with a new club in my community, the same thing happened as I was going around friends, family asking them to join this new club likely to open soon. It took us almost a year to charter Baneshwor Toastmasters Club. This was again a unique experience for me. I wouldn’t call this experience a stress buster because when gathering 20 members of diverse members, coping up with their timings, keeping up to their expectations, and providing them with the same membership experience was a huge challenge. However, it was an important experience to go through. Here I felt that keeping a meeting lively, entertaining, light-hearted, and yet everyone delivering their best outcomes was the only thing necessary to the role as a Toastmaster.
Subrath Poudel, President, Baneshwor Toastmasters