Toastmasters clubs are mushrooming at a fast clip in Nepal. Earlier, it was easy to connect with members amongst a handful of clubs. Since its inception in 1991, we grew to 8 curated clubs by June 2017. In 28 months thereafter, we added 14 more. New members, new aspirations, and new challenges dot the Toastmasters landscape in Division A.
I am excited, elated, and enthralled by the momentum Toastmasters clubs has achieved in such a short period of time. Yet, as the Division Director, I am also concerned whether the learning structure and experience is being transferred properly. I deeply felt that I must connect with the members and thus embarked upon my visit to all the clubs.
Starting September, I have visited 13 clubs. I had requested 60 mins for me to interact and members to ask questions. Division Secretary Neha Amatya was kind to coordinate the meetings. As one visit made way to another, I quickly realized the interaction has to be a full meeting time.
Each club, I learnt is unique, has its own soul on how the meetings are conducted, how learning is shared, and how members bond. There were nagging questions that took some nudges for members to finally let their guard down. Not surprisingly, 95% of the concerns were ‘I still fear the stage’ and ‘I really don’t know how Toastmasters method can help me’.
Surprisingly though, club leaders and mentors somehow have taken for granted that once a member wears the Toastmasters badge they will automatically get by to become better communicators and leaders through peer support. The engagement with an individual drops drastically from a high octane persuasion once the membership amount is paid.
Therein lies the crux of making Toastmasters movement truly successful in Nepal. The basics of why anyone becomes a member must be revisited. For me, this experience has been truly revealing.
Suman Shakya, DTM
Division A Director