Toastmasters not only helps one enhance their communication and public speaking skills, but also helps build public relations. In fact, the benefits go beyond it. It builds a mindset that always pushes you to come out of your comfort zone. Toastmasters fraternity has an international presence, and you can continue your journey wherever you are in the world.
When I went to Bangkok, Thailand as a part of our Undergrad course, the first thing I did was to search for clubs in the vicinity on the Toastmasters website. As I skimmed through the list, I found SIAM Toastmasters Club to be one of the nearest and the most active ones on Facebook. In the following weeks, I attended their general meeting and delivered a speech as well.
The first time I attended, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I felt like I was finally meeting people who understood my language in an unknown city away from home. I was greeted with warm and welcoming smiles. I sat down and noticed how different the meeting was. For starters, they had a different seating arrangement. Instead of the traditional ‘U’ shaped seating arrangement that is popular in Nepal, they sat in groups facing the stage. The agenda sheet was completely different than the ones we used back home. Even though it mentioned the club mission and the Executive Committee members as we do, they also mentioned the names of general members. Another difference I found was that they had additional segments before the usual Table Topics and Featured Speech segments. They had a segment called ‘warm-up round’ where people weaved sentences out of the last word of the preceding speaker, which would revolve around a single theme.
Even though I was constantly noticing things that were completely different than what we did back home, the one identical thing was the aura that the environment radiated. The slight uneasiness before raising your hands to speak was always there but it was the same non-threatening and nurturing environment that you would get at any Toastmasters meeting. I could see the encouragement in everyone’s eyes. This is the essence of every Toastmasters meeting, and this is what made me feel at home, and this is why I booked a slot to give my speech there without a second thought!
The second time I attended the meeting was when I was giving my speech. Everyone was cooperative, and I felt like I was delivering my speech at my club. The Vice President Education made sure I felt at ease and assisted me as I prepared for my speech. The evaluation session didn’t just consist of constructive criticism but included intricate details on what went well and what could’ve been even better. The suggestions were not just directed towards the speech and how it could have been better but included some of the techniques on how I can become a better speaker which had a huge impact on me.
When you give a speech at a Toastmasters meeting, it feels like completing a workout at the gym. You put your blood and sweat into it and most of the time you find a reason not to make it to the gym. But after every session, you feel empowered. And getting a chance to experience the same Toastmasters experience in a different club of a completely different country was like finding a home away from home.
Kritisha Prajapati, IPP, KCM Toastmasters Club