Taking Table Topics is the most fearsome thing in Toastmasters. I always tried to escape this session as best as I could, and honestly I escaped it most of the times very tactfully, but once I got caught when our President very confidently put forward my name as Table Topic contestant in 2018! Excuses didn’t work and I ended up appearing in Laxmi Bank’s meeting hall. Everyone was serious about the contest as they wanted to give their best performance, someone was murmuring in the lobby and someone was even practicing in the toilet! But I pretended to be relaxed as I had that gut feeling that I would survive 2 minutes by extending the topic to the best of my knowledge. My intention was to survive the contest rather than compete in it!
The moment of truth came – the contest began and I was picked as the first contestant to speak! What else could be worse, especially when you consider yourself the weakest contestant!!!
Fellow contestants left and I remained in the room, a room full of audience to witness the contest with great expectations. I was given the topic “What is the best part of growing older?” Such an apt topic which I could relate to and speak for hours but at that moment, I messed it up completely. I could put my thoughts into words and hurriedly wrapped it despite only being shown a green flag by the timer! It was a very embarrassing moment for me, I was cursing myself for not preparing well and wasting everyone’s time. However, my fellow toastmasters consoled me and said, it was normal to panic whilst speaking in-front of the public, to overcome fear we all had become Toastmasters. So true! To overcome your fears you have to face your fear time and again with confidence and full preparedness. This is what I have been practicing these days, rather than avoiding, I try to take each opportunity to speak and get heard.
Shiv Raj Thapa, Tourism Toastmasters