When I first heard about Toastmasters, it was through my father who adoringly mispronounced it as “Ted-masters”. He had been to one of the meetings and could not stop raving about the environment and how well-spoken the people were. I took all of this with a grain of salt, especially when I also learned that there were many older people involved.
So I decided to find out for myself. I attended the 52nd meeting of Bodhi Toastmasters with a very skeptical mind. The theme that day was “Plastic”. TM Dilip took the stage and explained to us the many interesting rules of the meeting, such as the two thumbs up to be shown every time the word of the day was used. With my curiosity piqued, the meeting proceeded. I believe it was TM Niladri speaking that day who changed my preconceived notions regarding Toastmasters. He spoke so eloquently and had such a dignified stage presence that I was amazed such a platform existed in Nepal. TM Chandrayan’s energized evaluation and his extremely wholesome persona further enthused me towards joining.
In a subsequent meeting, I tried my hand at the Table Topics session. The question on the floor was about procrastination and with utterly unsubstantiated confidence I thought, “this is my topic”. However, once I stepped on the stage, it became very clear why I needed the guidance that this group offered. I was unprepared, incohesive, and just barely managed to sputter an assortment of words. That same week, I became a member of Bodhi Toastmasters.
Ever since the first meeting, I looked at the Toastmasters’ stage as a beauty to be conquered, not just by being able to speak on it but by being flawless on it. The reason this stage appealed to me so much, was that I am a huge fan of practiced charisma. I had long since given up on the idea of exuding confidence as some do and had then just resorted to the illusion of it.
As a hardcore introvert, I had my icebreaker speech written, rehearsed, rehearsed, and reiterated. This whole process was perfectly suited for my obsessive nature that thrived in situations requiring time and patience. I generally find myself full of self-doubt and unable to perform on command. I prefer the weeks of preparation, being armed with facts, and the mentor-mentee relationship that the environment of Toastmasters encourages.
The whole time I was giving my speech I couldn’t hear my own voice over the sound of my heart thumping in nervousness. My aim with Toastmasters is thus to lure myself outside of my compulsive structured habits and trick this self-conscious inner me into being able to exhibit effortless confidence. I am very excited about the promise of growth and evolving outside of my comfort zone. My hope is that it manages to bleed into other factions of my life as well.
Jigyasa Bajracharya, Bodhi Toastmasters Club
Published in Inkspire Issue 2. Click here for the full newsletter.