I always had interesting stories to tell people: the incredible adventures in my childhood, the enormous pressure to score distinction in SLC, a terribly frightening encounter with scary wild jackals near my house, and heartbreaking denials by gorgeous girls. Wherever I told my stories, while sipping tea in a bakery, traveling long distances with my friends on the bus, and imbibing a quarter of whiskey in a bar with my cousins, it was a flop. My audience would hardly bear with me for half a minute and then turn their eyes away from me.
The reason: I lacked the art to structure and beautify my expression. I told them that I enjoyed having mango of my garden but I did not tell them that the mango was ripe, juicy, big, as sweet as honey and pleasant smelling. My expression was plain and nobody loves plain things. Just like a customer doesn’t like the unpacked loose rice grains from the shop, but prefers well packed and labeled packets, the audience did not like my plain speech. I did not know that I needed to add color, flavor, and feelings into my speech. If you share your meal with your friend, then your friend can feel the taste of the meal: spicy spinach curry, gravy, and delicious chicken and sweet thick curd. Similarly, when you share your stories you need to make the audience feel the taste of the experience. And Toastmasters guided me with it.
Don’t think Toastmasters is only for public speakers. How many times in a month do you need to be in conversation with a stranger? How often you need to establish a rapport with your colleagues and customer? How many times do you need to face interview in your life? In all these times, you have to speak spontaneously and in the topic of interest of the audience. You might be an engineer, doctor or lawyer but at the wedding party, gym, or while jogging you may meet an accountant, an artist, or a journalist. One day, they may turn out to be one of your biggest clients or one of your good friends. Only if you speak the right words in the right way, listen to the interest of that person very carefully, realize the need of that person, and provide proper feedback and suggestions to that person, can you level up your interaction with them. And you learn all these skills at Toastmasters through different sessions like evaluation, impromptu speech, time recording, grammar reporting, etc.
Feels like I am bragging? Once you join Toastmasters you can find the high profile trainers, business consultants, senior professionals from corporate worlds coming to the club. They are so expensive that had they spent their one and a half hours with their clients they would have earned thousands of rupees. But they come to Toastmasters meeting which does not pay any rupee, instead asks to pay the subscription fees every six months. Lets think why.
Sushil Khanal, Kathmandu Toastmasters