What do you fear? I always felt public speaking was something I feared. For as long as I could remember, the thought of speaking in front of an audience filled me with anxiety and stress. Growing up, I always heard people say how terrifying and nerve-wracking it is to speak in public. I had the idea to communicate, but could not muster up the courage to go out there and deliver what I had in my mind. Whenever I tried speaking publicly I almost always froze and could not find words to express. Class presentations did gradually help in addressing such confidence issues. However, the very thought of speaking to an unknown audience brought back similar emotions of dread and reluctance.
Once I heard that my college was starting a Toastmasters club to enable its students to become better public speakers. Shortly, a demo meeting took place on our college premises. Right from the start, I was awestruck by the seasoned Toastmasters delivering their featured speeches and evaluations. It left me glued to my seat until the end of the meeting. What was once a willingness became a resolve, I was ready to join the club.
I vividly remember the first session of SAIM (South Asian Institute of Management) Toastmasters. Adjectives are not enough to describe how I felt that day. I personally feel that the Table-Topics session is one of the most encouraging parts of every session and that day I somehow volunteered to speak. While it was short, it was the start of the end of the indecision and uncertainty that wavered around my head at the thought of speaking to unknown audiences. So far, I have spoken on a few Table Topics and have hosted a session as the Toastmasters of the Day (TMoD). I cannot help but share about the two college events I have hosted, one of which was prior to joining Toastmasters and the other was the day after I hosted a session as the TMoD.
At the first event, I was noticeably panicking, my voice was trembling, and I even vented out to my friends because of the pressure. I did okay that day, or at least that is what I said to comfort myself! The latter college event which I hosted after joining Toastmasters is a different story. I was actually looking forward to hosting the program! I was calm, had a smile on my face during the entire program and the admiration from my teachers and friends gave me validation that joining Toastmasters was one of the best decisions of my life!
Toastmasters has opened a world of endless opportunities that I could not have fathomed when I joined the club. Besides public speaking, I have been able to network and form bonds with people from various backgrounds, professions, and age groups. Although I joined Toastmasters to become a better speaker, I have also learned the significance of timeliness, respect, and courtesy. I have learned that communication is more than just standing at a lectern and I am looking forward to learning much more.
Aashna Saud, SAIM Toastmasters Club
Published in Inkspire Issue 2. Click here for the full newsletter.